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Customer service: 6 trends to follow in 2021

In increasingly competitive industries, customer service has become a major differentiation factor. A HubSpot study states that close to 93% of customers consider customer service an important element in their brand loyalty. For your business to meet customer expectations efficiently and deliver optimal service quality, here are six main trends to follow in 2021.

Customer engagement is omnichannel

According to the Digital Report 2021 by We Are Social and Hootsuite, there are more than 4.2 billion global users today across the different social media platforms, or more than 53% of the world’s population. This statistic demonstrates the importance of digital practices in our lives and its influence on our consumer habits. Furthermore, Gartner predicts that by 2022, 72% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine-learning applications, mobile messaging, and chatbots. Faced with the growth of digital habits and the use of new communication channels, the customer experience has completely changed. Every business must now embrace omnichannel customer service in order to respond quickly and efficiently to customers.

Immediacy, a new customer need

Increasingly demanding and in a hurry, today’s customers no longer have the time to look for information in an FAQ or wait to speak with an agent by phone. They want to find the right information quickly and easily. Faced with this challenge, every business must facilitate access to customer data and make the customer journey seamless. Among the most efficient channels, live chat allows a customer to connect quickly with an agent from your business website and streamline the customer experience. From offering product tips to providing information about returns or reimbursement requests, chat is a digital channel that is useful as much for accelerating sales conversions during pre-sales as it is for quickly answering questions post-sales. This is an essential feature, considering that 90% of customers believe it is « important » or « very important » to receive an immediate answer for a customer service problem, according to a HubSpot study.

The rise in messaging for customer interactions

Nearly 70% of customers use messaging services to interact with companies, according to a Conversocial study. As an omnichannel strategy has become the norm for customer service, the increased use of instant messaging services is a powerful driver for customer service improvement. Easy to use, accessible, and interactive, this communication channel allows customers and agents to send messages synchronously (with an instant response) or asynchronously (with a short delay), depending on agent availability. Conversation history is stored, the discussion is personalized, and the customer experience is seamless.

Self-service, a new staple for customer service

As customers today are more independent, they also want to be able to solve their own problems (learn about a delivery status, for example), access information (check an account balance), or carry out recurring actions (pay a bill) by themselves. In its 2020 report on customer experience trends, Zendesk presents the most important criteria for quality customer service: 60% of those surveyed stated, « I can solve my problem quickly, » while more than 40% stated, «assistance is available 24/7. » Self-service, or self-care, has therefore become a full-fledged driver of customer engagement. Accessible through an interactive voice response (IVR) of a contact center or via a chatbot, self-service is a supplemental tool for customer service agents. Since it is available 24/7, especially outside of opening hours, it allows customers to receive answers to simple questions at any time or carry out common tasks completely autonomously.

 

Personalized customer service, a gage for quality

These days, customer service personalization is a critical issue to address for customer satisfaction. What customers want the most are to be recognized and enjoy personalized journeys. Customer knowledge represents one of the main keys of success: by integrating your contact center solution with your CRM or industry tool, your customer service department will benefit from a 360° view of each customer (customer information, history of the customer journey and all interactions on all channels…) and will therefore be able to offer personalized answers.

Each customer interaction is part of a conversation

No matter which channel customers use (phone, SMS, social media, chat, instant messaging), the challenge for a customer service department is to manage all customer interactions from a single contact center solution in order to ensure seamless communication. According to a Zendesk study on customer experience trends, 71% of customers surveyed stated that they expected companies to collaborate on their behalf to prevent them from repeating information. Thanks to a unified interaction management platform, agents have access to customer history and different conversations, regardless of the communication channel, to offer a seamless customer experience.

Conclusion

In 2021, the massive customer adoption of new digital technologies will create new challenges for customer service management. Every business must adapt their organization and tools to deliver an exceptional customer experience at any time and on any channel. In order to guarantee a seamless customer experience, it is therefore essential to provide your agents with the best tools for improving the efficiency of your customer service. Personalization, responsiveness, autonomy, an omnichannel strategy: these are the challenges your customer service department must meet today.

 

To offer your customers an exceptional experience and improve agent productivity, learn about Vocalcom, a global leader in omnichannel contact center solutions for 25 years.

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