Inside the Fourth Edition of the “State of Service” Report
Research reveals top three customer service trends driving the strategic role of service
In the midst of dual health and economic crises, the strategic role of customer service cannot be overstated. New research from the fourth edition of the Salesforce “State of Service” report reveals just how much stock customers put in quality customer service and support today.
The stakes have never been higher for customer retention as service teams face customers who are more anxious, more demanding, and have more complex cases. Service is more than a matter of closing a ticket and moving on to the next — it’s ensuring that the brand is associated with empathy and personalization as customers encounter circumstances that are completely out of their control. Think about all of the ways service teams have already adapted their policies, reskilled team members, and scaled support across channels to help, all while experiencing increased case volumes.
In 2018, we launched the third edition of the “State of Service” report. Our biggest finding at the time was the rising importance of customer service to overall business goals. Flash forward to today: Customer service has become the primary function to keep customers happy, bringing with it enormous business value.
For our latest research, we surveyed more than 7,000 global decision makers, agents, mobile workers, and dispatchers to understand changing customer service trends and key strategies and technology — and discover how service organizations are navigating abrupt changes to the work environment. To give service professionals the insights they need to plan for the road ahead, we’ve compiled the top three customer service trends driving the strategic role of service.
Top Customer Service Trends from Salesforce’s “State of Service” report:
Customer service trend #1: Changing customer service expectations underpin new strategies
When customers do interact with different departments — such as when they receive an email to upgrade their device and then contact customer service to discuss the upgrade — 76% expect consistent interactions. However, in reality the majority (53%) of customers say it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information. That means customers may find themselves repeating information or feeling as though the experience wasn’t personalized to meet their needs, which can negatively impact customer loyalty.
The rigidity of business policies and protocols can also be in direct conflict with customer satisfaction. This is particularly an issue now as customers face difficult and unfamiliar circumstances that are out of their control — and policies that were not designed with these situations in mind. As a result, 83% of service professionals say they’ve changed policies to provide more flexibility to customers.
Agents on high-performing teams (defined as service teams that have excellent customer satisfaction) are nearly twice as likely as underperformers (defined as service teams with fair or poor customer satisfaction) to have clear guidelines on how flexible they can be. Also, they are more likely to feel encouraged by management to be flexible with customers as well.
Flexibility empowers service teams to resolve each issue in the most personalized way, while helping customers out when they need it most. (For example, deferring a payment when a loyal customer needs additional time.)
“We use Einstein Analytics to keep a pulse on agent productivity — measuring average handle time, agent capacity, and performance. Our reports refresh every half hour, so we see how agents are doing even while they work from home. If we see productivity drop, we can reach out right away to see if they are having connectivity or other issues.”
Customer service trend #2: Service teams scale support with digital investments
Lastly, service professionals are taking a fresh look at their key performance indicators (KPIs). Seventy-one percent say they’ve changed or reprioritized metrics due to the pandemic. Customer satisfaction is still the top metric, but revenue has the highest adoption growth rate, up 57% since 2018. Customer effort has emerged as a new and exciting metric as well, defined as how much time and how many steps customers take to find an answer. A lower customer effort leads to increased customer satisfaction because the answer is available in a few steps, such as on your help center or customer portal.
A 360-degree view of the customer from a single platform helps service professionals deliver more personalized support, resolve cases faster, and make smarter business decisions. It’s important to note that service organizations with digital initiatives in place prior to the pandemic were able to quickly pivot to meet new customer needs and scale support.
“Real digital transformation can only happen when you have the proper alignment of your people and processes with your ERP [enterprise resource planning]. And there is no better way to make that happen than to have everything in one native platform.”
Customer service trend #3: Customer service career paths come into focus
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“Concern over personal safety is first and foremost. The COVID-19 Pre-Arrival Checklist helps to build trust with our technicians and reassures them that we are committed to their health and safety.”