This post is the first in a series of four from the State of Service report 4th edition. Topics include self-service and chatbot benefits, creating holistic customer views, and service agent success.

Customer satisfaction and how companies manage customer service have been greatly impacted by the global pandemic. There is a new standard of engagement with customers now. Are you and your team ready to navigate through these new customer satisfaction standards?

Service teams have shifted their workflow and processes as a result of COVID-19. Understanding how consumers have shifted their patterns will help you prepare your team for the new normal.


Navigating new standards of engagement and customer satisfaction

One of the new standards your team needs to be aware of is that customers expect to engage with a live person when they contact a company.

According to the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report, 83% percent of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company. And 82% expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person.

Consumer standards have also changed due to the pandemic because managers have granted permission to service representatives to accommodate customer needs in unprecedented ways.

Eighty-three percent of service professionals say they’ve changed policies to provide more flexibility to customers during the pandemic. Post-pandemic predictions are that customers will continue to expect more.


Shifting customer expectations are driving a new digital playbook

Customers now expect constant innovation when it comes to interacting with a company. Not only do they want to speak to a person but they also want the convenience of choosing how they speak to that live agent.

Many customer relationship management (CRM) systems now include texting options, live chats, video calls, and mobile apps. Customers typically initiate these communications. They may be responded to by a chatbot, but they are then placed in a queue to chat or text with a live agent.

Companies are finding value in these forms of communications, and agents say that the company they work for views them as customer advocates. These agents are responsible for how your customers view your company. So it’s crucial to give them all the tools they need to succeed.


Organisations are accelerating digital transformation to improve customer satisfaction

Complex phone systems are not going anywhere soon. Despite providing customers with alternatives to making a call, 89 percent of service professionals agree that customers will continue to use the phone to call for customer service.

There are many reasons a customer may choose to make a call versus using a digital platform. These demographics include age, race, and location. We also found that 81% of decision-makers are using a digital method to initiate company contact.

FCR media in Belgium transformed from an old product-centric company, which had a customer satisfaction rating of just 46%, to a customer-centric, dynamic and innovative digital media business and improved our customer satisfaction by 50%.

They did this by adapting their business model and focusing on engagement levels of service in just 12 months.


Measuring the impact of initiatives on customer satisfaction in Belgium

When it comes to measuring the impact of these new standards on customer relations, a key performance indicator (KPI) will give you a quantifiable method to evaluate the success of meeting the customer relations objectives of your organisation.

The most crucial KPIs in the Belgium compared to the full global State of Service survey results are:

 1. Belgium: Customer satisfaction  Global: Customer satisfaction   
 2. Belgium: Customer effort score  Global: Revenue    
 3. Belgium: Revenue     Global: Customer retention 
 4. Belgium: First contact resolution rate   Global: Customer effort     
 5. Belgium: Employee experience  Global: SLA performance 

Like global customers, customer satisfaction remains the number one priority but it's interesting to see Belgium respondents focus on employee experience also.         

In Belgium, you can segment our State of Service report by country and industry and interact with data in Tableau.


Agent agility is key as demand for customer satisfaction surges

Service professionals say that case volume management has become increasingly challenging during the pandemic. Agents are dealing with an increased number of interactions with customers who have complex concerns.

Here are a few ways companies like yours can manage these customer satisfaction issues:

  • Technology is driving efficiency for agents. AI gives customers more options for self-service with simple matters. Business owners have recognised the need for chatbots and 67% of CRMs include the use of this technology. These processes free up agents for complex customer issues.
  • COVID-19 brought demand for agility and resilience to the forefront. With customer demands increasing due to the pandemic, agents recognise the importance of improving customer satisfaction. Empowering your team to make decisions on their own will be the new standard.

Service extends to sales, marketing, and beyond

Customers don’t view companies by their individual departments. When they have a negative experience in one area, they associate that experience with the entire company. Customers will go to competitors even after just one bad interaction.

Customers expect consistent service from every member of your team. However, 53 percent of consumers say that they feel sales, service, and promotions departments do not share information.

Companies can communicate better with customers by implementing the following principles:

  • Understand how digital drives knowledge and data sharing. Your service professionals can share data through platforms that make it easier to communicate their customer interactions with their sales, marketing, and ecommerce colleagues.
  • Create a holistic customer view across your organisation. By offering a uniform system, there is less chance for data loss and misplaced information with customer communications.

Investing in employee experience drives customer satisfaction

Satisfied employees make for happy customers. Service agents play a strategic role in your business. When an employer focuses on both customer and employee retention, they increase revenue. Your service agents will remain loyal and many will choose a career path as an agent.

Here are a few statistics in employee retention:

  • Career paths come into focus. While globally, 67 percent of service professionals see themselves making a career in the industry. In Belgium, 80 percent will make customer satisfaction and relationship management their profession.
  • Remote work on service employee experience. During the pandemic, those who could work remotely were required to work from home. Half of the service professionals globally were working from home in 2020. Around 42% expect to continue to work remotely in 2021.

In Belgium, 92% of service decision makers are making significant investments in training their agents. However, many companies are a long way from establishing the agility they will need to navigate all the latest standards of customer satisfaction.

As workforce management takes a new shape, businesses recognise the need for quick adaptability. Partnering with Salesforce can provide your team with the latest most complete service platform and the best solution.


The Fourth Edition of the State of Service Report

What do 7,000+ service professionals across 33 countries have to say about the strategic role of customer service today?