A year where changing consumer behaviors and heightened expectations have made the job of customer service (CS) teams much more difficult, 2021 has shed light on the growing value of great CS for brands looking to open the path to success after the pandemic.
Facing historic increases in customer query volumes, dramatic operational reconfigurations, and growing pressure to make every customer interaction as seamless as possible, CS professionals have empowered their organizations to meet demand and satisfy their clients in undeniably difficult circumstances. However, organizations have also had to reinvigorate their CS strategies to achieve this, including accelerating their digitization plans to meet their customers’ preferences for contactless technology – and to stay ahead of the competition.
In fact, 95% of consumers in the US and UK say they consider the quality of a brand’s customer service when making a purchasing decision, according to new search of Stella Connect by Medallia. And as key brand differentiators become less product-centric and more CS and CX focused, all signs point to 2022 being a monumental year for brand-defining CS experiences.
Here are three customer service trends brands need to prepare for in 2022 and beyond:
1. Decreasing consumer patience drives the need for speed
While brands’ constant raising of the CS bar has ushered in a new era for exceptional customer interactions, it has also skyrocketed consumer expectations and, consequently, the costs of poor service. Today, consumers around the world are leaving their favorite brands without warning, illustrating their diminishing patience and unwillingness to forgive and forget poor experiences. This willingness to switch brands at any time is a trend that is increasing the pressure on CS teams to deliver impeccable service more frequently in 2022.
For example, Stella Connect’s recent report Customer Service Trends for 2022: Preparing for the Future of Customer Service found that 60% of US and UK consumers say they will stop buying from a brand after a bad experience. customer service – a threat that certainly holds. weight, given that 53% say they’ve done just that in the past year. This is a concerning reality for brands who may be feeling the wrath of labor shortages affecting many industries, but it also represents an opportunity for CS teams to deliver service experiences. truly differentiating features that keep customers coming back for more.
And it turns out that, according to consumers, speed will help organizations outpace the competition in the new year. As they get used to things like next day delivery, one-click ordering, and 24/7 customer support lines, speed and convenience quickly become the success factors. most important today. Customers no longer tolerate long wait times, ineffective communication tools and protracted problem resolutions. In fact, response time is now more important to customers than even personalization, according to US and UK shoppers, with more than a third (35%) of US consumers and just under three in 10 UK consumers saying that they would wait up to five minutes for a response from customer service.
Indeed, as brands look to scale their CS capabilities in 2022 and keep their customer effort scores (CES) low, the key is to get to the root of their customers’ problems quickly.
2. Word of mouth more influential than ever
Mistakes are inevitable in the service industry. This is something every CS professional knows, and every customer understands to some degree. But when a mistake leads to a poor customer service interaction, it can have a detrimental effect on a brand’s reputation – especially today when consumers are much more willing to share their experiences with their peers. digital experiences, especially when those experiences don’t meet their expectations. .
So organizations can expect word-of-mouth to become a more powerful marketing tool than ever – and negative word-of-mouth to have a huge impact on their success and perception. After all, 40% of US and UK consumers say that after a bad customer service experience, they will share that experience online. Meanwhile, just under half (49%) say they would tell family and friends to stop buying from the brand, a significant increase from the previous year, when only 38% said they would.
This illustrates how consumers are increasingly confident in their ability to drive and deprive sales, a trend that makes them more vocal. Of course, the ripple effect is that this compounds the pressure on CS teams, who are already working in an incredibly difficult environment. But with word-of-mouth driving an estimated $6 trillion in consumer spending every year, it’s something brands can use to their advantage to drive significant bottom line results.
3. The power of service recovery will reach new heights
In the same way that brands can leverage their customers’ trust in their own voice, they can also leverage these inevitable service errors as powerful brand loyalty opportunities. This may seem like a contradictory statement – the idea that consumers would like to make Following doing business with a brand after encountering a problem, but it’s a proven strategy for growth.
Indeed, the Service Recovery Paradox tells us that if a brand’s attempt to solve a dissatisfied customer’s problem exceeds the customer’s initial expectations, a paradox emerges where the customer actually becomes more loyal to the brand than if the initial error had not occurred. never produced. This paradox is something new research from Stella Connect supports, finding that 97% of consumers in the US and UK say that if a brand turned a bad experience into a positive one by resolving their issues immediately, they would business with this brand. again.
It’s also interesting to note that more than a quarter (26%) agreed that they would be more likely to leave an online review about a bad experience turned into a positive, than a great or even a bad experience. All of this data points to a truly unique opportunity for CS teams to connect more humanly with their customers and respond more deeply to their needs, in 2022, as well as showcasing their department’s unparalleled value and influence on the results of their business.
Armed with new learnings from being on the frontlines during COVID-19 and distinctive insights into what it takes to create brand-defining customer service experiences that elevate their business above the competition, CS professionals will leave no doubt an indelible mark on the growth of their organization in 2022. Of course, they will do so in a context where consumer wants, needs and expectations will continue to fluctuate and make them more adaptable and flexible than ever. However, as long as brands equip their CS teams with the right tools to ensure fast and convenient shopping experiences for shoppers – and turn negative interactions into powerful growth opportunities – they will continue to rise to the occasion, no matter what. environment.
Sarika Khanna is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Medals, pioneer and market leader in customer, employee, citizen and patient experience.