How the pandemic has changed customer service forever

How the pandemic has changed customer service forever

It’s been two years since Covid-19 turned everyone’s lives upside down, and on the whole, businesses showed a remarkable ability to adapt when the pressure was on.

For customer service teams, especially those working from contact centres, the pandemic presented an enormous challenge. Suddenly, agents had to be able to work and collaborate remotely – meaning information siloes needed to crumble so everyone could pull together.

With in-person interactions all but impossible, assisting customers digitally became the only option. And to the surprise of many brands, this enforced new way of working turned out to be pretty effective. And customers noticed!

Customer expectations have never been higher

A report from TalkDesk found that 58% of consumers admit their customer service expectations are higher than they were pre-Covid. In response, rather than reducing their customer support budgets (as many businesses planned to do through AI and automation tools) many have instead increased them.

This is likely because, as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, when things go wrong customers need help – and they need it quickly. If they don’t get it, it’s easy for them to jump ship and go elsewhere.

Customer feedback has never been more valued

Customer feedback gives businesses a way to understand what their customers want and need. Businesses can use customer feedback to improve their products, services, and overall customer experience.

And in the current climate, with customer service more important than ever, it’s never been more valuable. In fact, GetFeedback’s 2022 State of CX Report found that almost 60% of Customer Experience teams started to offer additional customer feedback touchpoints during the pandemic.

Collaborative customer service has come to the forefront

In a post-pandemic world, businesses have had to adapt to a new way of working – one in which collaborative customer service models have proven to be far more successful than traditional methods, for a number of reasons.

First, it allows businesses to break down information siloes so everyone can access the same customer data. Second, it enables agents to work together to solve complex customer issues. And third, it helps businesses to create a more seamless omnichannel customer experience.

With collaborative customer service, businesses can provide their customers with the quick, efficient, and personalised assistance they need and expect.

Related content: Tiered vs Collaborative Customer Support – which is right for your business?

Demand for interaction over digital channels has increased significantly

Over the past two years, customers have come to expect a convenient, digital customer service experience. Brands that have not adapted their customer service offerings to meet this demand are now more at risk of losing customers to their competitors than ever before.

A report by Forrester found that 55% of customer service teams report an increased customer preference for interacting over digital channels.

Digital customer service channels include live chat and instant messaging, social media, self-service options like online FAQs and bot-assisted troubleshooting, as well as more traditional channels like email. Brands should consider all of these channels when designing their customer service strategy, so they can meet customers on the digital platforms they’re most comfortable using.

Online, brands aren’t just talking to digital natives anymore

One interesting effect of the pandemic was how it forced older customers, who might normally have preferred to go into a store to make a purchase, to get comfortable with online shopping.

Unsurprisingly, this had a big impact on ecommerce businesses which were largely targeting digital natives and younger, tech-savvy consumers. Groceries were a prime example. Before Covid, only about 30% of consumers ordered their groceries online. In the height of the pandemic, that number reached nearly 80%.

And while life might now finally be returning to something resembling ‘normal’, many customers won’t want to give up this new-found convenience.

Related content: Top tips for top eCommerce customer service

Now more than ever, customers want that human connection

Pre-Covid, if you’d asked a CX expert where they thought customer service was heading, self-service, automation, and machine-assisted service would likely have been top of their list.

And while all those things are still important, and certainly have their place in any CS strategy, the pandemic has been a reminder of just how much customers appreciate the human touch.

In times of crisis, customers want to do business with brands they have a solid relationship with, that shares their values, and that genuinely has their best interests at heart. Person-to-person interaction, digital or otherwise, will always be the best way to foster that kind of connection.

In conclusion

As we move into a post-pandemic world, businesses will need to continue to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their customers. And customer service teams will need to be at the forefront of this change.

If your brand has struggled to keep pace, or needs guidance on adapting to the ‘new normal’, then the Digital Customer Care Company can help. Our team of experts can help you transform the customer experience into one that meets the needs of today’s customer. Contact us today to learn more.