29 September 2021
Covid: The impact for online communication?
We explore how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted online communication and what lies ahead in terms of online chat software and other communication methods.
There is no denying that Covid-19 has completely transformed the way that we work. There have been many shifts, all over the world, including more remote work and services being delivered in a digital manner. Because of this, customer service is one area that has naturally seen some changes as well, with the use of online chat software becoming more prevalent now.
What challenges has Covid-19 presented in customer service?
There are a number of challenges that businesses are facing due to Covid-19, including:
- Changes in customer protocols
- Increased redirects and escalations
- Excessive hold times
- Missed opportunities to connect
- Demand for a personal connection
Customer service demands have increased due to financial concerns
One of the biggest changes that we have seen as a consequence of Covid-19 is an increase in customer service demand. We are all used to demand increasing at specific points throughout the year, for example, on Black Friday. However, with so many changing circumstances due to the pandemic, the strain on customer services teams is evident. For example, Help Scout has revealed that 12 per cent of businesses are now handling more than double their weekly volume of customer conversations.
Often, a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that customers are no longer in the same position as they were 18 months ago. With job losses and business closures, a lot of people across the country have financial concerns, which they need to discuss. Banks, lending firms, and companies offering payment plans and contracts, like mobile phone providers, have felt this the most.
What can you do if customer service demands have increased?
If you are dealing with an unprecedented amount of customer queries, you may feel like you are overwhelmed and you do not know where to begin. However, there are a number of steps that you can take:
- Make the most of online chat software - There is only one place to begin, and this is by making the most of online chat software to filter queries and handle customer questions more efficiently. Online chat software is incredibly convenient. AI can be used to help with the most common queries, ensuring that live agents are only engaged when they need to be. This will help you to manage the flow of traffic a lot more efficiently.
- Promote being proactive and “overcommunicating” - During these times, overcommunicating is not possible. Giving customers as much information as possible is a must. If you have an announcement section on your website with up-to-date details regarding any shipping delays, promotions, Covid-19 news, and so on, you reduce the chances of people needing to get in touch with you because all of the information they need is there for everyone to see.
- Consider outsourcing if you are struggling - If you are really struggling to address the needs of your customers and you feel like they are not getting the service that they need and deserve, you may want to consider outsourcing. The great thing about outsourcing is that you can benefit from the service in question as and when you need it, ensuring you only need to pay for such a service in times of need.
Some industries have experienced the opposite due to government restrictions on their business
While the strain on customer service departments has increased, on the whole, there are some companies that have seen such a monumental drop in consumer queries because of the landscape of their industry at present.
For example, when the lockdown was implemented and we were told to stay at home, transport services were not required. This resulted in a huge drop in customer support demand, which caused some providers to stop offering this service altogether.
What can you do if your customer service needs have dropped?
If your team has been facing low-volume days, there are a number of different things you can do:
- Take the time to work on your knowledge base - You can spend some time increasing your knowledge base so that it is filled with all of the information that your consumers could need. This includes creating videos, improving the content you already have, and adding new content to your help documents. By doing this, and the volumes return to normal later on, you will have high-quality self-service options for viewers, and this will make a huge difference.
- Concentrate on listening to your customers - At present, customers are likely to be very stressed and facing more pressures than they have ever faced before. Life is difficult for a lot of people right now, and it is important that your customer services team respects this. You need to have more empathy and really listen to people when they speak. Do not underestimate how powerful it can be to be the soundboard for someone at a time like this, providing them with at least one helpful and calm conversation throughout their day.
- Now is a good time to experiment - With customer support demand being a little bit lower than it usually is, it is a good opportunity to try something new. If you do not have online chat software in place at the moment, now is a good time for you to look for the best solution and implement this at your business. Aside from this, you may want to consider recording some new short videos for your knowledge base.
Final words about Covid-19 and online communication
So there you have it: an insight into Covid-19 and the impact it has had on online communication. There is no denying that customer service requirements have changed due to the pandemic, with different industries feeling the effects in different ways. The need to adapt has become more important than ever before, and online chat software can help businesses to do this, filtering traffic during busy periods and ensuring consumer queries are answered efficiently.