What do customers expect from customer service post-Covid?
The year 2020 has certainly been one of huge shocks. But as society adapts, organisations are re-examining their offer.
Recent research suggests that businesses see improving customer experience as their most exciting opportunity in 2020, above video marketing or social media.
So why is customer experience so important? What will an improved customer experience look like in our post-Covid world? And what are the pros and cons of outsourcing customer service?
The importance of quality customer service
Numerous studies show that good customer service skills are essential for an organisation’s success.
One piece of research found that companies with a $1 billion turnover can earn an extra $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.
That’s because, according to another study, customers are prepared to pay up to 18% more for a good customer experience. By the end of 2020, it’s predicted that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
A recent PWC report says: “What truly makes for a good experience? Speed. Convenience. Consistency. Friendliness. And one big connector: human touch—that is, creating real connections by making technology feel more human and giving employees what they need to create better customer experiences. People are increasingly loyal to the retailers, products, brands and devices that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress.”
The Covid-19 effect
So how has Covid-19 changed customer expectations and priorities?
Certainly, interactions with organisations went more digital: online sales as a proportion of all retailing reached an all-time high of 30.7%. And more people, for example the older generation, have now embraced digitalisation.
Matt West, the CEO of consumer reviews platform Feefo, says: “I think the main challenge businesses are going to face is getting to the bottom of what exactly it is that has changed for them, and precisely how their customers’ behaviour has differed from before lockdown.
“This means assessing every single communication that you’re sending out, and all the interactions you’re having with your customers – whether that’s across your social media, your review content, your survey responses, and even your call-centre activity.”
Customer service trends 2020
Many companies have responded to the pandemic and its aftermath with creativity.
Some councils were quick to reprogramme online digital assistants to answer routine queries and free up advisors to help with trickier issues.
Home delivery services boomed. Aldi teamed up with Deliveroo to offer grocery deliveries, while the Co-op turned to a start-up company for its robot delivery service in Milton Keynes.
Robots using ultraviolet light to destroy Coronavirus are being deployed in warehouses and stores to increase customer confidence. Given that 54% of customers say they are interested in venues’ hygiene procedures, those robots look like a wise investment.
Another sanitation measure that’s well and truly arrived is contactless payments, with 87% of customers saying they prefer this.
Pret a Manger, which was hit by the drop in office workers buying lunches, built loyalty among its customers by releasing its chocolate chip cookie recipe.
And lockdown has made it all the more important that customers have a seamless experience however they interact with organisations: online, in person, on social media, or by phone. The proportion of companies investing in omni-channel customer service experiences has recently jumped from 20% to more than 80%.
Outsourcing customer service
While all these innovations are exciting, it’s the underlying principles that are really important.
Efficiency. Speed. Loyalty. Trustworthiness. The human connection.
However, this list of customer wants is not always easy to achieve.
At Connect Assist, we have extensive consultancy experience of helping councils, charities and other non-profits analyse customer service expectations and improve their offer.
We also excel in designing and operating omni-channel contact centres, incorporating online digital assistants into our live chat services as well as more traditional channels, to ensure a uniformly high quality customer experience.