Over decades of development and rising standards of living across much of the world, the general standard of products and services has increased dramatically. Right now, with product quality gaps getting smaller, the all-important element of customer experience has become the ultimate distinguishing factor between competing products and services.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has driven customer expectations higher than ever, and this has formed a number of interesting trends to which companies in Australia and around the world will have to respond strategically to meet change. The following customer service trends are here to stay and successful companies will surely adapt and meet the challenge.
Trend #1: Service Has to be Fast and Simple
This is an age where elegant simplicity reigns supreme. Customers more than ever want to have their issues resolved quickly and without having to repeat steps, have call backs, or have the problem endure beyond their inquiry to customer services. The way companies can respond to this is to minimize wait times for customers, and set clear guidelines and stick to them on issues like when they will call customers back, or when certain steps will be resolved.
Furthermore, if the problem of one customer overlaps from one customer service team member to another, perhaps due to a shift change, communication between team members has to be seamless in order to ensure nothing the customer has done or said already has to be repeated.
Trend #2: Customers’ Brand Perception is Impossible to Ignore
In this information age, people’s trust in marketing messages is at an all-time low. The only sources people tend to trust when it comes to product/service comparison is their tight circle of friends and family. Beyond that, they are usually unwilling to listen. Multiple social media channels are amplifying the negative reviews and negative feedback of customers in ways that enterprises can little control, and a spate of negative reviews can cascade into a devastating loss of reputation.
To respond to this trend, companies will have to find more ways to gain customer feedback at different points in their experience or journey. By collecting more feedback at different stages, they can better identify the weak links in their chains.
Trend #3: AI is Becoming More Capable in Customer Service
Even though many people express frustration at AI-driven systems, the technology is improving fast, and many systems such as online “Chatbots” are able to deal with simple customer questions. As AI learns more about customers’ needs, these systems will relieve customer service departments and teams of at least some of the pressure they face day to day. This will allow companies to refocus their attention on how to deal with more serious issues where human-to-human interaction is the only way.
Trend #4: Customers Want 24-Hour Support
In these troubled times, customers have been increasingly frustrated with systems that seem to make it difficult to get in touch directly with human customer service agents. They feel shut out, and surveys have shown that as many as 72 percent of consumers aged 18 to 64 feel that a text-based service where you could chat to someone in real time 24/7 would give them a better customer service experience.
Some US insurers like Farmers Insurance are already trying it out, and are finding that people respond positively just because they have that safety net there that they can turn to. With tensions and fears heightened around the pandemic-ridden world, companies will have to find ways to reassure and “look after” their customer base as best they can lest they turn to others who will.