Every business leader can agree the stakes have never been higher to build trust and maintain customer loyalty. Ninety percent of customers say how a company acts during a crisis demonstrates its trustworthiness.
Customer service has taken centre stage as companies build trust and drive loyalty today and into the future. Now, meeting customer service expectations while balancing distributed workforces and new business models means service professionals need to rewrite their approach to customer service. This includes key strategies to respond to customer needs, ways to help agents adapt to a more strategic role, and ensuring everyone stays safe.
We’ve compiled recommendations, based on insights from over 7,000 service professionals across 33 countries for the fourth edition of the State of Service report, to help write your next chapter on customer service. This article is long, so jump to any section:
Note: If you’d like to check out the State of Service findings first before diving in,
“I’ve used emotional intelligence to empathise with the client to provide the best solution. By doing so, I prevented the type of customer experience that leads to ‘cancel culture’ and instead put them on the path to customer loyalty”
Seventy-one percent of consumers say that businesses showing empathy during the pandemic have earned their loyalty. Teach emotional intelligence best practices. Conduct role playing exercises from the side of your customer and your organisation. Encourage agents to use positive language. Instead of saying, “That’s against our policy,” try, “Here’s how we can handle this.”
The right digital tools help agents use their time efficiently instead of searching for customer information or details from past interactions. Ensure agents have a 360-degree view on a complete service platform.
Let’s take a phone interaction as an example (customers choose phone calls second to email). Equipping agents with cloud telephony allows them to stay focused on the customer. That’s because calls are automatically transcribed in real time. At the same time, agents can access complete customer information for the context they need to deliver personalised service.
“Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has caused for business models, VIZIO continues to deliver service without disruption. We’ve focused on how to empower our agents and already had best practices and the right service management solution in place.”
Eighty-three percent of service professionals say they’ve changed policies to provide more flexibility to customers during the pandemic. Agents on high-performing teams — those defined as having high customer satisfaction — are most likely to have clarity, encouragement, and training on how to be flexible with customers.
The key is to regularly communicate new updates. Train agents on new processes by setting up a customised digital learning module. And frequently audit your knowledge base to ensure articles are up to date.
“83% of service professionals say they’ve changed policies to provide more flexibility to customers during the pandemic.”
Everyone in your organisation affects the customer experience. Bring teams together to rally around the customer. Set shared goals. Encourage ongoing communication and collaboration. (Check out this Customer 360 playbook to help.)
Customer service has become more connected and more digital. This means partnerships with IT are critical. Eighty-eight percent of service decision makers call IT a strategic partner. Make technology strategy and selection a joint effort with IT.
“ Did you know that 88% of service decision makers call IT a strategic partner?”
To help your teams do more with less, try these tips:
Service organisations have increased adoption of chatbots by nearly two-thirds (67%) since 2018. Chatbots play an important role in answering common questions, like order status or password resets. If a case requires an agent, chatbots collect customer data and share it with the agent so that they have everything they need to resolve the case.
“Our customers increasingly want to engage with us online and by leveraging technology like bots there’s a significant opportunity for us to reduce phone calls and increase efficiency.”
“77% of agents say automating routine tasks, such as gathering basic information and customer feedback, allows them to focus on more complex work.”
Here’s what you can do to empower your team.
In addition to their central role in keeping customers happy, the trend of service teams functioning as new and valuable sales channels puts them in increasingly high esteem. Use digital training tools like MyTrailhead to teach cross-sell and upsell techniques. On the flip side, train employees impacted by temporary store closures or layoffs to work in service and support. Sixty-two percent of service organisations say employees from other departments took on customer service roles during the pandemic.
“Service agents are optimistic about what the future holds. Sixty-seven percent see a clear career path — up from 59% in 2018.”
“Concern over personal safety is first and foremost. We created a COVID-19 Pre-Arrival Checklist to build trust with our technicians and reassures them that we are committed to their health and safety as much as we are our customer.”