Digital transformation has shifted to a new phase where businesses must compete to differentiate themselves in the digital landscape and provide services that cater to employee and customer demands alike. 2022 will see new trends that will redefine the customer service landscape – what’s new this year?
In 2020, Covid-19 sparked a surge in technology adoption and usage as businesses and consumers flocked online to carry out daily tasks. By April 2020, 49% of UK and 63% of US adults said they had carried out a new online activity due to the pandemic, such as attending a gym session, a class, or a religious service. Consumers upgraded their home technologies and even those who had been warier of using digital services sought and purchased services on their mobile phones.
Jump two years and the idea of “returning to normality” is still far-fetched. Times have changed, businesses have adapted and consumers have higher expectations than ever. 50% of global consumers say that the pandemic has made them re-evaluate their priorities in life. This has a direct impact on customer service. As the focal point of interactions between consumers and businesses, customer service teams must be constantly evolving to cater to new demands.
So, what must customer service teams be prepared for in 2022?
It’s not about going digital; it’s now about digitally evolving
Digital is no longer an option. Businesses that have failed to adapt to these new requirements are likely to struggle for survival. The rush for embarking on digital transformation has lulled, and we now find ourselves in the same digital playing field where B2B and B2C have ultimately become B2H (Business to Human).
Everybody has had time to adjust to the new changes brought by the pandemic and consumers have been willing to forgive companies struggling to adapt to the pandemic-related disruptions. But, after two years, consumers now have high expectations that digital experiences will work proficiently.
According to Forrester, 56% of US consumers believe that companies should have sussed out how to handle pandemic-related disruptions by now. Another 58% of consumers expect companies to have optimized their digital resources to be able to respond better if the country faces another public health emergency.
Those businesses that managed to adapt to the pandemic are not exempt from challenges. Ongoing digital sameness and increased competition mean that businesses need to be sharp to keep consumers happy and demonstrate their business value in a competitive market. These are some of the notable customer service trends for the coming year that businesses must understand to optimize their digitalization process.
9 Customer Service Trends for 2022:
1. Human-centered technology that drives both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX)
A major part of recent digital transformation strategies have been focused on the customer, and rightly so. Last year alone, customer service trends redefined how enterprises engaged with their customers. However, digital environments affect both customers and employees. With a growing to deliver stand-out features, businesses will unlock the creativity of their employees and back them with intelligent technologies such as automation, chatbots, knowledge bases, and machine learning engines that let employees focus more than just on financial results, but on delivering outstanding customer journeys and boosting productivity.
Forrester states that B2B buyers find that competence demonstrated during the buying process is the most significant driver of purchase choice, ahead of relationships with sales reps or customer references. Business leaders must still seek smarter, automated to create personalized engagement with clients. But they must do so with clear metrics and a strong idea of what the customer wants, meaning that a huge element of this human-centered technology still revolves around the customer.
2. Customers are buying and engaging through new channels
We’ve already heard about omnichannel. It is clear by now that customers don’t like having to repeat their information over different devices, which can be quite inconvenient when they are constantly changing from one device to another. With e-commerce seeing huge growth over the last few years and expecting to keep growing, digital shoppers are browsing and purchasing goods and services from the social apps they already use. WhatsApp has rolled out shopping features to make it easier for customers to chat with brands, get personalized recommendations and receive swift responses to their questions. Along with WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok have also followed suit and added features to let users buy items instead of just viewing them. Businesses must be aware of this shift to social media channels and be prepared to use omnichannel integrations that cater to these new trends.
3. Customer patience is waning – they need instant responses
Customers have a wide array of products to choose from and are receiving offers, discounts, and hooks on multiple channels. When they decide what they want, they want it now. Speed and convenience are just as important as the product itself. Brands must deliver promptly or risk not only losing a potential purchase but also losing that customer’s loyalty to the brand.
Time is relative, and while fifteen minutes is quick for pizza delivery, it is an eternity for a bank transfer or a jeweler specifying if they have a ring in the size you have requested. Customers expect a response from a company within five minutes or less. Additionally, 71% of consumers want to be answered in real-time. This only adds more importance to automation, real-time agent assistance, and conversational experiences that help customers interact and access information quickly, guide them to make purchases, and assist employees when they need to speak directly to clients.
4. Sustainability and digital experiences
Businesses are seeking new ways to boost their brand loyalty and retain their customers. Climate issues that have been featured in the news, events like COP26, and films like Don’t Look Up, have only heightened public awareness on the need to care for the planet. 91% of consumers want companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. By 2022, companies will realize the value of combining digital and sustainability, giving rise to digitally-driven projects and sustainability reports that distance themselves from greenwashing.
Data mining tools will be a valuable asset for companies seeking to create transparent reports to show they are climate-friendly as well as the deployment of FAQs to provide information to customers wanting to know more about a company’s pledge to sustainability.
5. Growing self-service options for customers
Customer interactions needn’t always require direct contact with a human representative. Customers increasingly expect organizations to offer self-service support. This can be through FAQ pages, chatbots, or knowledge bases that help customers get what they want swiftly and reduce the burden on customer support teams.
6. Customers still want personalized interactions
Automating and self-service tools are undoubtedly useful for customers, but many of these still expect their communication with brands to feel personal. Companies that focused on personalized customer interactions reported a 33% increase in customer loyalty and customer engagement. This can range from using customer names, suggesting products based on purchase history or localization, remembering details such as size choices, to speaking in a customer’s preferred language.
Customer-centric approaches are vital for companies, and these should also be deployed in the technology they use, from chatbots to live chat, to email marketing. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can help businesses and human agents retain and leverage data to make personalization easier.
7. Data-driven customer service
The importance of data has been evident for years now, but many businesses haven’t been deploying their focus on data on customer service in the same way that they have been doing it for sales and marketing teams.
In 2022, companies looking to strengthen their customer and employee experience will add new KPIs to measure the efficiency of their customer service teams. These KPIs include Net Promoter Scores and average response times and are a direct reflection of the efficiency of a customer support team. Customer data can also be used to improve the responses and support to users, by leveraging user profiles to deliver personalized assistance.
Additionally, the increasing use of data will mean a greater need for data privacy and security. Customer service teams must be compliant with laws and regulations that secure customer data.
8. Bots are still prominent players in customer service teams (and they are here to stay)
The pandemic is still producing shortages in staff and supply chains in 2022. The lack of access to human employees, fuelled further by the “Great Resignation” that still rages on in 2022, has moved businesses towards robotic technology.
In many cases, bots are helping in staff shortages, with robots taking over human tasks. But this is not the only function for bots. Chatbots can help customer service teams work better by seamlessly providing valuable insights collected from multiple channels and devices. With the proficient use of NLP and Symbolic AI, customer interaction platforms can deliver 24/7, end-to-end transactions and query resolutions in multiple languages, channels, allowing human agents to focus on complex issues that require their expertise. While customer interaction platforms may be useful in lieu of human staff, they are far more effective in collaboration with them.
9. Businesses will use more Customer Service software
As customers increasingly demand seamless multichannel support, companies need to consider managing their customer service in a single, centralized place. This can help teams organize and respond to customer service requests and tickets more swiftly, reducing human error and ensuring more consistent service. In larger companies where there can be silos, centralized hubs can improve collaboration between teams.
Other customer service software tools can be used to help streamline workflows, respond to customers across multiple channels, and tap into data insights.
Customer service teams must stay ahead of the market now that most businesses have gone digital, by delivering optimal seamless, personalized, and data-driven experiences that can guarantee success, while catering to their employee demands too.
Are you curious about intelligent automation and self-service tools?
Inbenta is a 4-module platform that powers seamless customer interactions with chatbots, help sites, semantic search, and ticketing.