24 February 2022
Customer service in 2022
Customer service will look very different in 2022. In this post, we discuss some of the major trends you can expect.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses quickly changed their approach to customer service. There was far more emphasis on digital interactions using the best live chat solutions, and an avoidance of those taking place face-to-face.
Originally, experts believed that customer service setups would return to normal at some point in 2021. Customers would return to stores and outlets quickly.
However, with the arrival of omicron and ongoing COVID-19-related disruptions across the world, that no longer appears to be the case. Consumers still want to interact with reps in a safe environment. What’s more, after nearly two years of social distancing, they’re getting used to it.
So what’s changing in customer service? Let’s take a look.
Bots Are Making Up For Staff Shortfalls
Thanks to the Great Resignation, the rate of staff quitting their jobs is at an all-time high. One in four UK workers are planning to change their jobs in the near future, according to a survey by Randstad UK, and pre-existing staffing shortages aren’t helping either.
Because of this, many sectors across the economy are feeling the heat. It is becoming harder to source workers than in the past, pushing up wages.
However, technology might offer a solution. In 2021, for instance, American companies installed more than 29,000 robots in the first 9 months of the year, representing an annual growth of 37 percent. Many of these perform routine tasks traditionally done by humans, such as burger flipping.
What’s more, some robots are entirely cognitive – that is, they exist in the cloud. The best live chat bots, for instance, now have AI-powered voice systems and machine learning natural language processing that enables them to hold regular conversations. They can process simple queries and escalate tricky issues to human operators, reducing staffing requirements.
Customer Service Is Now A Number One Priority For C-Suite
Executives are increasingly seeing customer service as a primary contributor to business growth. Forward-looking C-suite members see it as a key differentiator as many other aspects of business become commoditised.
In 2022, the focus will return to omnichannel support. Executives will look for ways to improve the customer experience across the full journey, from initial awareness all the way to conversion. Customers will be able to pick up with service reps where they left off, no matter what communication channel they use. There will be less need to repeat themselves, and better understanding of their needs, thanks to integrated CRM solutions.
Product To Service Transformations Will Accelerate
Many companies that formerly considered themselves to be “product” companies are now changing their tack. Microsoft is a good example of this. It once considered itself a software company, selling operating systems to businesses and home users. Now, though, the firm sees itself as a service firm, offering a broad array of subscription-based services, primarily for business. Companies that sign up to its platform can benefit from enhanced supply chain planning, improved office productivity, and enhanced analytics to name just a few.
This evolution is occurring for two reasons: economic advantage and the growing utility of data. Brands are now able to collect more information about their customers than they ever could in the past, allowing them to provide ongoing service “solutions” to customer problems. Firms sign people up for services to improve cash flow.
Tyre manufacturer, Goodyear, is spearheading this change. It is now placing sensors in its products to determine when they need replacing. This data then goes to the brand, allowing service agents to provide customers with real-time updates about how their hardware is performing. The technology means that reps can tell customers whether they need to purchase a new product or not.
Customers Want To Buy Through Chat Apps
Online users already gravitate to brands with significant presence on social media. However, now WhatsApp is rolling out updates that are making it easier for people to shop online.
- Receiving automatic responses to their queries
- Getting personalised recommendations to their chat panel
- Connecting directly with verified brand agents
Other platforms are making similar progress. Pinterest, for instance, is expanding its feature set so that customers can actually buy things they see on the platform, instead of forwarding to a merchant site.
Lastly, today’s consumers want instant gratification. According to a Forrester report, they expect customer service to be available in five minutes or less.
Data suggest that 45 percent of adults will abandon an online purchase if they don’t get quick answers to their queries. And 66 percent say that valuing their time is one of the most important things that brands can do. Responding quickly, therefore, is vital.