After two years of lockdowns, social isolation, and workers working in different places, people’s habits have changed a lot. A lot of these changes look like they will last for a long time. This means that customer-facing teams will have to change a lot.
Customer service reps, salespeople, and anyone else who works with customers or manages customer service needs a new plan that takes into account what customers expect now that the pandemic is over.
Essentially, companies need a new approach to customer relationships. It should be more customer-centric. More detailed. And, more flexible. Companies need to give their customer service teams the right tools so they can help customers well in a world that is always changing.
Let’s look at what’s different and what teams that work with customers need to do well.
Shifting Consumer Trends Amidst the Pandemic: A Closer Look
The digital revolution has been the defining catalyst for altering consumer behaviors. Throughout the pandemic, traditional in-person shopping took a backseat as people pivoted towards the convenience of online retail.
Moreover, the surge in self-service options, ranging from contactless payments and self-service checkouts in physical stores to the proliferation of online chatbots for product research and issue resolution, has been remarkable.
This period of transformation introduced many to the realm of digital services, some for the very first time. For others, the familiarity and efficiency of digital, self-service, and contactless transactions have become so ingrained that reverting to old practices seems unlikely. Here are notable instances:
- Telehealth experienced a seismic shift. Online consultations, which constituted merely 4% to 5% of total doctor’s visits in 2019, skyrocketed to comprise 40% to 50% during the pandemic.
- Online grocery shopping also underwent a substantial change. In 2019, 36.8% of U.S. adults had engaged in online grocery shopping. By 2021, this figure had surged to nearly 60%.
Additionally, a noteworthy trend is the emergence of more mindful shopping. Consumers are becoming increasingly attuned to their health, social interactions, and financial decisions. An intriguing aspect to monitor is the durability of these newly adopted habits. Post-COVID, almost half of consumers express intentions to be more budget-conscious, while well over half aspire to make choices that are both environmentally conscious and health-oriented.
What Customer-Facing Teams Need to Better Serve Customers
To adapt to the now and to prepare for what’s next, customer-facing teams need to have the right tools and resources in place. Let’s take a look at what these needs are.
In the current landscape, prioritizing the acquisition of appropriate technology stands as an imperative. Falling behind the curve is no longer an option when your workforce cannot seamlessly communicate across locations and through the diverse channels preferred by customers.
Both customer service representatives and sales professionals necessitate proficient tools that facilitate the delivery of exceptional customer experiences. By harnessing the capabilities of cloud-based communication solutions that seamlessly integrate voice, chat, email, and video conferencing, achieving an all-encompassing omnichannel experience becomes attainable.
A streamlined customer journey demands a harmonious fusion of communication platforms that seamlessly share vital customer data. Furthermore, integration with sales and CRM software is paramount, ensuring that information remains consistently up to date across all systems.
The prowess of this technology extends beyond connectivity, as it possesses the capability to dissect customer interactions and generate insightful reports. These reports serve as invaluable tools for informed decision-making, shedding light on shifts in customer experience, identifying emerging issues, and gauging customer satisfaction levels during their interactions with customer support.
Teams that work with customers also need the right content. Agents in sales and customer service should be able to quickly find content they can use to solve a customer’s problem or explain the value of the brand.
For example, salespeople should be able to point leads to informational videos, white papers, and case studies that can help guide a potential buyer further along their journey.
Customer service reps should have blog posts, eBooks, and other types of content they can send to customers who want to solve a problem on their own or learn more about a topic related to your product or service.
Customers are used to looking for answers online more than ever before, so this kind of content is more important than ever. People are taking care of their own problems, whether they are looking for information about a business software product or comparing loan products online.
Webinars, online events, articles, and podcasts that teach your sales and customer service staff how to give customers what they need when they need it will help your company become more customer-focused.
And the last thing your teams that work with customers need during this change is good leadership. At the end of the day, this is a time of change for anyone who works with customers. And the work of anyone in customer service or sales can be more stressful when people have higher expectations and their tastes change.
Lead with empathy and notice when your employees are taking on more than usual. This will help them become more resilient and ready to adapt. Listen to what they say and what ideas they have.
Unveiling Authentic Customer-Centricity: A Vital Blueprint
In preparation for the post-pandemic world and the evolving landscape ahead, a vital transformation awaits customer-facing teams. This transformation hinges upon embracing novel technology, fostering a meticulously curated repository of comprehensive content, and receiving unwavering support from leadership.
Equipped with these crucial components, these teams will be empowered to render substantial assistance to customers in a genuinely meaningful manner. This concerted effort not only amplifies customer satisfaction but also propels business expansion in a world where customer-centricity holds unprecedented significance.