No matter your company size, the department you work in, or the industry your business focuses on, one thing remains constant: the past year has been one of major shifts, transformations, and challenges.
As our businesses and processes have undergone changes, so too have our customers, the ways they interact with our brands, and their expectations for those interactions.
In this blog post, we’re diving deep into the main differentiators brands will need to pay attention to this year to meet the changing expectations of their customers.
Meeting Changing Customer Expectations for Service Teams
Help Customers How (and Where) They Want to be Helped
Modern customers want brands to be available on the channels they prefer to use, when they prefer to use them, and to understand their needs before they even know they have those needs.
For many businesses, that means a pivot to more automated and tech-forward ways of providing support, like chatbots. Indeed, investments in new CX tech will be at the forefront of customer service trends in the new year.
And for good reason. Automated technology can be particularly useful when it comes to easy questions, like finding out a brand’s return policy.
But not all channels are created equal.
Despite their tech-savvy ways, 43% of consumers today say that the phone is the most likely channel for them to seek out when they have a customer service issue, followed by email (28%) and chat (23%).
It’s clear that to create a really successful customer service experience, brands need to combine innovation with optimization. Continuing to invest in new channels is critical, but can only be successful if it’s paired with a strategy focused on making your current support channels even better for your customers.
Maintain Connections Between Your Customers and Your Brand
Today, customers can research products or services online, order them from the comfort of their home, and have a package dropped onto their doorstep after a few days or an account set up in a matter of minutes.
They never have to step foot inside a store or talk to someone at your brand if they don’t want to. But when they do choose to interact with your brand, you need to ensure you’re providing them personalized, human experiences.
At the end of the day, customers will be stickier and more loyal if they have an emotional connection with a brand. They want to feel seen, heard, and valued by your business, not just for the money they’re spending with you but for who they are as a customer.
And customer service teams play a major role in that connection.
80% of consumers report that when customer service solves a problem for them, they feel more emotionally connected to the brand.
Now more than ever, when the virtual support agent is the single point of human connection between a brand and their customers, front-line teams have the unique opportunity to solidify that relationship.
For brands to stay ahead of the curve and meet this need for emotional connection, 2021 will see a renewed focus on the human aspect of the customer experience.
Understand and Optimize Toward Customer Satisfaction Metrics
Collecting real-time customer feedback is imperative for success today.
You need to understand how your customers feel after interacting with a member of your team, and how you can optimize their experiences.
If you don’t already have an effective customer service feedback strategy in place, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to hear directly from your customers about what went wrong, and then using that feedback to help improve your agent performance.
Losing this insight also leaves your team with an incomplete view of your agents and their performance. With Stella Connect, you can capture real-time customer feedback on the performance of individual front-line team members after every sales or service interaction.
After a positive interaction, customers can leave comments, share their positive experience across social media, and help power your rewards and recognition program by suggesting you give your team member a reward like a high-five or a cup of coffee. Alternatively, if they choose to leave negative customer feedback, customers can suggest areas for improvement and leave comments highlighting ways you can improve.
Collecting customer feedback is a business-critical initiative that drives product innovation, brand loyalty, process efficiencies, and improvements in the overall customer experience.
Invest in Your Front-line Customer Service Team
Consumers care about customer service.
They want to know that the brands they’re spending their money with value them as a customer, and will do what they can to meet your needs and resolve your issues. If they have a negative view of your support team, they may jump ship to a competitor and never consider doing business with your brand again.
In 2021, the role of the customer service agent is going to be more important than ever.
Recent research from Unbabel found that 50% of customer service leaders globally reported that CS budgets
are growing in 2021.
To meet changing customer expectations, use those increased budget to ensure your organization is investing in the tools your team needs, providing ongoing customer service coaching and training for your front-line agents, and holding regular 1:1 meetings to keep reps on track with their goals and in-line with brand values.
Meeting Customer Expectations in 2021 (and Beyond)
For businesses today, excellent customer service is a way to stand apart from the competition and offer an experience that is truly unique for your customers.
To get a full picture of what consumers are looking for from brands this year and to stay ahead of the curve, get our Customer Service Trends for 2021 report.