The internet reshaped trade and commerce worldwide in just three decades. And now, post-pandemic, the era of the digital native is hastening massive changes in customer support.
As of January 2021, more than half the world’s population was online. Global internet traffic was up anywhere from 20% to 70%. We’re talking 4.66 billion active users worldwide. So, it’s no surprise almost every business is online.
The internet is a lively place. With everybody online all the time, it should be easy for customers to get in touch.
Great customer service improves customer satisfaction by up to 32%, retention by up to 33%, and revenue by as much as 42%. A whopping 93% of customers purchase from companies with excellent customer service.
These are hardly the kind of figures you’d blink and miss.
More than ever, your company’s success depends on its customer service.
Ah ah ah ah – Stayin’ agile
With oodles of choice, access, and knowledge on where to take their business, 68% of consumers say COVID-19 has changed how they interact with companies.
People now expect faster, self-service resolutions.
To survive in this rapidly changing environment, your company must stay agile and adapt.
Let’s talk about artificial intelligence
AI already covers a range of functions. From gathering generic information and pre-filling fields to handling routine customer issues (tracking orders and re-setting passwords, for example).
Machine learning can take the pressure off while mining data for deeper insights into consumer behaviour. According to Gartner, AI will handle 70% of customer interactions by 2022. This is important because consumers now increasingly expect access to on-demand messaging services.
According to Salesforce, more than 80% of service decision-makers say their company’s customer service must transform to stay competitive. The rush to automate is on, with 71% of companies agreeing that automation helps them remain agile, with 64% of IT decision-makers projected to invest in automation technology.
Chatting with chatbots
For handling common requests quickly, chatbots and customers make a great pair.
The more Natural Language Processing chatbots have, the more personalised — and therefore better — the customer experience.
Why drown in endless FAQs when a bot can easily pull up necessary information?
Delegating simple queries to bots empowers human agents to provide quality support on more complex ones. But there are downsides to chatting with chatbots, such as:
- 46% of respondents felt the bots kept them from speaking to a live agent
- 54% of respondents preferred a live agent, even if a chatbot would save them 10 minutes
- And 86% of users say chatbots should always have an option to transfer to a live agent
Proactive customer service
If reactive customer service is shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted, proactive service is warming the barn and keeping the stablehand alert.
Proactive service matters.
Per Salesforce, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. You should take proactive steps to resolve issues before they occur and be ready for queries before they come in.
The effort is worth it.
Customer support statistics show that loyal customers are five times more likely to make a repeat purchase and four times more likely to make a brand referral.
How to be more proactive
Being proactive is easy when you know how:
- Know your customers and let them know that you have their backs
- Remind them of upcoming payments or invoices
- Share details about sales and special events
- Inform them of anticipated problems
- Create a knowledge base/FAQ offering self-service solutions
- Provide forums or portals where they can get support quickly
Thanks to modern tech, there are tools to help you crunch the data and stay one step ahead.
How social are you on social media?
Social media started to keep friends and family up to date in our lives but evolved into a powerful business tool. 90% of consumers use social media messaging to communicate with brands.
The top three messaging apps are:
- WhatsApp at 2 billion
- Facebook Messenger at 1.3 billion
- WeChat at 1.12 billion
Is your customer service team addressing complaints and questions via social media? If not, why not?
Are your customers able to reach you on the platforms they inhabit? If not, why not?
3.2 billion people use social media. That’s 40% of the population. To not reach them where they hang out would be a massive oversight.
One benefit of the pandemic was that it turned remote working into the new normal.
With face-to-face customer support in decline, more companies are implementing remote customer support. After all, these jobs can be done from virtually anywhere.
With all the savings in ops and location costs a remote workforce provides, it isn’t surprising that 35% of contact centre leaders say their setups will be mostly WFH.
And technology is keeping up, with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, live chat software, video consultation, and messaging stepping up to meet the demand.
This shift can also help meet consumer expectations of real-time, 24×7 support, with service staff employed in suitable time zones around the globe. Geographical borders are no longer obstacles. And there’s also the undeniable benefit of offering nuanced assistance with multilingual customer support.
The human touch
While automation will take the lead in 2022, access to human support channels will remain essential.
70% of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels. And currently, 45% of consumers feel automated systems don’t understand their core issues.
Humans shine wherever tech falls short, providing emotional intelligence and empathy.
AI may be a quick tool for simple support needs, but the human connection will always be at the heart of customer support.