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.
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How Consumer Habits Have Changed During the Pandemic
The move to digital has been the most important change in how people behave. During the pandemic, people stopped shopping in person and turned to shopping online.
They have also turned to self-service options, like self-service checkouts and contactless payments in stores, and chatbots online to research products and solve problems.
Because of this, a lot of people have tried digital services for the first time. Others are so used to digital, self-service, and no-contact transactions that they probably won’t go back to their old ways. Here are some examples:
- In telehealth, online visits made up 4% or 5% of all doctor’s visits in 2019. During the pandemic, they rose to 40% to 50% of visits.
- For online grocery shopping, 36.8% of U.S. adults had purchased online in 2019. By 2021, nearly 60% had.
Another change is shopping with more thought. People are becoming more aware of their health, their social lives, and their finances. What should be watched is how many consumers think they will keep these new habits for a long time. After COVID, nearly half of them plan to be more cost-conscious, and well over half plan to make more environmentally friendly and healthier choices.
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.
Right now, getting the right tech should be a top priority. You’re behind the times if your employees can’t talk to each other from anywhere and through the customer’s preferred method.
Both customer service reps and sales reps need good tools that let them give customers a good experience. With cloud-based communications software that brings together voice, chat, email, and video conferencing, they should be able to offer an omnichannel experience.
The customer should have a smooth experience, which means that all communication platforms should share customer data. It should also connect to sales and CRM software so that information is always up to date on all systems.
This technology should also be able to analyze interactions with customers and make reports that can help businesses make better decisions. It should be able to show when the customer experience changes, where problems are popping up, and whether or not customers are happy when they contact customer support.
Teams that work with customers also need the right content. Agents in sales and customer service should be able to quickly find the 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 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.
The Key to Being Truly Customer-Centric
For customer-facing teams to be ready for the world after a pandemic and for what comes next, they need new technology and a well-organized, in-depth content library. They also need help from the people in charge.
With all of this, they’ll be able to help customers in a real way. This will help your business grow in a world that cares even more about the customer.