Service agents are critical to customer success. When we surveyed over 7,000 service professionals worldwide in August and September 2020. Over half of service agents were working from home. That’s nearly three times as many as in 2019. 

The majority either expect to work remotely in 2021 or remain uncertain about their future work setting. Customer service, IT, and other teams experienced a massive transition to remote work. As a result, the pace of remote collaboration and customer service delivery increased. 

In Belgium, 81% of respondents tell us their service teams have shifted workflows and processes. 

Eighty-two percent have changed policies to provide customers more flexibility. And 73% of decision makers have invested in new service technology to better support their agents’ and customers’ needs.

In this blog, we share insights as to how service agents are managing new changes and share tips to help organisations better support their success.

 

Service agents are optimistic in the remote work environment

Overall, more than two-thirds of service agents are generally satisfied with the quality of service they’re providing outside of the store, office, or contact centre. 

In Belgium, 80% of service agents say they can remotely access all of the data and information they need. 

Here’s how many service agents worldwide agreed with the following statements:
 


As noted, high performers are even more likely to claim access to the technology and information they need to do their jobs regardless of where they are.

Providing service agents the technology and work-from-home support to deliver exceptional customer experiences has real, measurable business benefits.

 

Service agents in action: VIZIO spotlight

When service leaders at VIZIO, the leading HDTV and sound bar brand in North America, began to hear about pandemic-related orders, they knew it was important to act fast. VIZIO needed a solution to keep its team of 380 agents connected and able to support the brand’s 70+ million international customers. 

In 2019, the brand had transitioned to a new service console that provided a: 

  • Simple, contextual view

  • Intuitive interface

  • Embedded knowledge base to help resolve at-home cases quickly

VIZIO’s service leaders took a proactive approach to set up work-from-home environments. With the right technology in place, service agents were able to deliver on customer needs across digital channels like chat, SMS, social, and self-service. 

The company was able to maintain a high level of quality support even as the global pandemic interrupted businesses worldwide.

As a result, VIZIO experienced:

  • 15% reduction in average handle time

  • 4x improvement in agent productivity in online vs over the phone

 

High-performing organisations excel at service agent support

The global pandemic has created challenges businesses couldn’t have predicted prior to 2020. Employee health monitoring, for example, wasn’t even on the horizon and would have been considered intrusive before COVID-19.

Now, 4x as many high-performing service agent professionals say their organisation excels at employee health monitoring, compared to their lowest-performing counterparts. This is also true of organisations’ ability to forecast case volume and demand, then staff for it. 
 

As illustrated above, onboarding new hires remotely is one area where even high-performers struggle. 

Less than one-third of service professionals said their organisation does this well. Meaning, there is a great opportunity for improvement and growth.

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

 

Organisational structure is changing to meet the needs of remote service delivery

As the very nature of work evolves before their eyes, service leaders are looking to new staffing models that: 

  • Accommodate new fiscal realities

  • Provide employee mobility and opportunity

  • Meet business demands.

Hiring full-time employees is still the default method of expanding the team. However, 51% of organisations are using part-time hires and 43% contractors to meet fluctuating service demands.

Interestingly, 23% of organisations are using job sharing as a strategy for meeting service needs. 

Eighty percent of service decision-makers in Belgium say they’re making “significant” investments in service agent training. 

They don’t seem to be planning on a return to business-as-usual centralised service operations, either. In fact, 74% say field service is a key part of their strategy. For 78%, field service is a significant revenue driver.

These investments in training and commitment to ongoing remote work enable employees to feel confident in their career prospects and the expectations and loyalty of their customers

Eighty percent of service agents in Belgium told us they see a clear path for career growth at their job.

The future looks bright — at least, for those service organisations, leaders, and service agents willing to invest in employee experience.

 

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?