The pandemic has changed the way a lot of businesses serve and interact with their customers. Many have had to pivot from offering an in-person service to entirely digital. Rethinking your entire business operation and maintaining the same quality of customer service is no easy task. But the expectations of customers have changed, and businesses need to be conscious of this.
Karl-Heinz Land, leading author and consultant on digitalisation agrees and believes this changing customer behaviour is a result of the sudden appearance of new digital infrastructure, “We’ve really trained the consumer now to do a lot more things online, things that we either didn’t want to do or couldn’t do in the past because the infrastructure wasn’t there.”
This means customer expectations are higher than ever. A report by customer experience management experts, Genesys, found that 67% of consumers believe a business is only as good as its customer service. And with reputations at stake, businesses can’t afford to drop the ball on providing customers with a best-in-class experience they’ll remember.
We want to make sure that you get it right and keep building loyalty amongst your customers. So, what are the new rules of customer service, and what can you do to make sure you’re maintaining high service rating?
The past year has no doubt been a challenge for the majority, with heightened feelings of isolation and fewer opportunities for social interaction. Over the course of the pandemic, consumers have felt 34% less connected to others (Genesys). As a result, when customers pay for a service or reach out to businesses, they expect to be shown more empathy towards their situations.
When interacting with your customers, whether on the phone, email or live chat, they need to know that their problems are important. Offering reassurance and understanding will put them at ease and establish your business as one that cares about their customers, as Adolfo Fernández Sánchez, Google Head of Commerce Strategy explains:
“For SMBs, it is critical that they find authentic ways to demonstrate what their brand stands for, and they really connect to consumers on a much deeper level.”
Customers need to know that your business is accessible to them when they have an issue, especially when they can’t go through traditional routes of speaking to an in-store advisor. However, when 40% of consumers consider dealing with customer service a hassle (Genesys), the route to contact needs to be one that is most convenient for them.
Karl explains his experience of this, “Suddenly, it was either digital business or no business at all. Either communicate with the customer via WhatsApp or via Messenger or e-mail or have no customer contact at all.”
Having multiple contact points offers flexibility to your customers so that they can choose the route that best suits them. No two customers are the same and providing customers with an experience that is seamless and intuitive can help to provide a more stress-free experience.
With many services going virtual, this can offer a great opportunity to utilise data and stay one step ahead of your customers. 62% of consumers feel that they get better service from businesses that collect data, and a further 34% say that a sign of an excellent experience is when a business remembers them (Genesys). So, taking the time to get to know your customers and being able to anticipate why they’ve contacted customer services is crucial.
Simply recording previous transactions or enquiries by your customers can help you to assess what they might need in the future. Through this, you can offer tailored solutions to your customers, which not only makes interactions more seamless, but also makes customers feel that your business really listens to them. And as Javier Castro, CEO at BeeDIGITAL explains the benefits won’t only be felt by the customer:
“If we’re constantly generating data, an algorithm exists that can handle data, transform it, and find optimisations, make predictions, identify categories and without a doubt, improve some processes.”
Reflecting on this period, business leaders believe this pattern in customer service is here to stay as people have now adapted to this digital-first approach. This means making sure you’re prepared which will help your business in the long run. Karl-Heinz Land has witnessed this first-hand, “I can see this with some customers who say they don’t want to do it the way they used to anymore, now I’ve learned how convenient it actually is.”
However, customer needs are always changing and making sure you’re staying ahead of the curve will really make the difference if you want to build long-lasting loyalty. Adolfo believes, “Customer demand will remain dynamic as the economy starts to reopen, people will break established patterns and form new ones… During the upcoming months, big brands and small businesses will have to adapt to these fluctuations.”