Just how COVID-19 Impacted Customer Service & What’s Following [Data + Expert Tips]

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We all know the importance of customer care for retaining clients and scaling a business — and it’s just increasing in value over time.

Consider, for instance, what happened after i called CorePower Yoga’s customer service team a week ago to complain regarding an incorrect charge to my account. Exactly what could’ve been an annoyinh and frustrating encounter turned into me in fact improving   the membership.

That’s the power of good customer service — it can where your customers’ loyalty starts, or even ends.

Unfortunately, days gone by two years have been anything but easy on customer support teams. While consumers’ expectations for customer service hit an all-time high, customer service reps simultaneously saw more challenging calls and increased escalations  in 2020.

HubSpot’s Sector Data, for instance, shows a consistent rise in assistance tickets since the start of the pandemic — from 6% in March of 2020 to over 90% as of Aug 2021:

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However , as customers’ challenges and requests increased exponentially as a result of the pandemic, most service groups were still fighting to adjust to a fully remote control setup. (Imagine the stress of a conversation by having an unhappy customer out of your kitchen table, where you might lack a strong cell phone connection or quick access to peers just for help. Yikes. )

All of which is to say: COVID-19 had a strong impact on customer service, and in 2022 and beyond we’ll continue to see the ramifications from the pandemic on what clients expect from customer service, and how service repetitions will need to adjust to handle those new anticipations.

Here, We spoke with 6 experts in the customer care industry to gather information into the future associated with customer service. Let’s jump in.

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How COVID-19 Impacted Customer Service

1 . Assistance reps needed to adjust business offerings to meet new customer needs.

Microsoft’s  Worldwide Support Leader Kirsten Gudmundson  told me it’s vital program teams learn to adjust to their customers’ special needs, which might be distinct from they were pre-pandemic.

“Listen, learn, develop — quickly, inch Gudmundson told me. “During the pandemic, our own customers’ needs were evolving at warp speed as many had to quickly go through an electronic digital transformation to stay relevant. ”

Gudmundson adds, “It was imperative that we positively listened and modified our offerings to satisfy new customer needs and identified innovative ways to engage with clients. ”

The pandemic required all businesses to re-route existing strategies plus refocus their efforts. If you work for the B2B customer service team, then, it’s important to keep in-mind that component of your job is exhibiting patience and empathy when working with your customers.

kirsten gudmundson quote on how covid impacted customer service

Additionally , the ‘rule book’ you followed pre-pandemic might not work anymore. Part of the challenge of the service industry these days is having the flexibility to alter your approach — and your business products — as you determine better ways to provide your customers.

Since Gudmundson points out, “By making it easy for clients to get support plus proactively providing providers, we gave clients peace of mind, which allowed them to focus on this particular critical pivot stage for their business. inch

second . Burnout across services organizations increased.

Based on a 2020 Gallup report, 76% associated with employees experience burnout  on the job at least occasionally, and 28% say they are burned away ‘very often’ or even ‘always’ at work.

Burnout has increased significantly as a result of the pandemic. Work-life balance offers blurred significantly. In addition , some employees really feel pressure to remain online  to prove their own working to their managers — and still others need to adjust to operating from home while also taking care of their children or dealing with other household obligations.

Unfortunately, support employees are particularly at-risk of burnout. As researcher Kristina Hultgren writes, “call centre jobs are notorious worldwide for high levels of proceeds, absenteeism, employee burnout and emotional exhaustion. ”

Kevan Gammage, Global Director of Customer Support with Brandwatch, told me he is seen burnout boost for his own group after joining Brandwatch at the beginning of 2021.

“For us, the pandemic has been a bit of a ride, ” Gammage says. “It seems like customers have been realistic in understanding that our team is also impacted by COVID, but that just carries so far. ”

“Our reps have certainly needed to work under a lot more pressure in general, and burnout has been a constant threat in our world. For example , our team provides seen the type of tickets we get become much more technical in nature and issue. ”

To deal with burnout, Gammage told me he’s needed to become more intentional about how he or she creates a connected environment for the team, even though that environment will be fully remote.

Additionally , he told me, “We do good to avoid burnout simply by encouraging our people to take advantage of limitless vacation. We love to give the team specific self-development time to focus on things that are more private, like self-development or even mentoring from teams they aspire to work in. So far, so good — but we have to keep on being creative for the group. ”

kevan gammage quote on how covid impacted customer service

three or more. Customers became more familiar with communication equipment like Zoom and Google Meets.

Fatima Sbeih, Beautiful. ai’s  Director of Client Success, told me her team’s customer support requests nearly doubled at the beginning of the pandemic.

Sbeih says, “As a remote collaboration device, new users followed Beautiful. ai  early in the pandemic as they transitioned to from home. As a result, [our] customer support requests nearly doubled, leading to longer response times plus adjusting priority levels for support tickets. This — coupled with the inherent collaboration challenges of remote work — resulted in a backlog of tasks. ”

Sbeih informed me, “Clear and concise inner communication became an even higher priority compared to before, as do the mental health of my team to ensure everyone experienced supported. ”

To ensure strong inner communication on your own support team, consider investing in powerful  customer service equipment, such as HubSpot designed for help desk software or JIRA to get bug reporting.

Sbeih told me one of the most notable improvements to customer service that she’s seen has been a a lot more geographically diverse skill pool that aligns with customers’ timezones. She notes that this has decreased wait around times for new responses, and permitted for calls to be scheduled within company hours for each team.

As your team became more comfortable with remote software in 2020, so did your customers. This is a major benefit for remote support teams, as customers are more effective at submitting plus responding to requests on communication platforms outside of traditional phone calls.  

As Sbeih puts it, “customers grew to become more comfortable with conversation tools like Focus and Google Meets, enabling easier assistance. ”

four. Remote support training became a requirement.  

As people adjusted to this ‘new normal’, stress were high. Together with the daily challenges they will faced at their companies, customers also dealt with the intense pressures of a global pandemic.

All of which is to say: 2020 wasn’t an easy season for anyone in a customer-facing role.

Since HubSpot’s Team Prospect of Customer Support within Berlin Takeaki Fujita  puts it, “customer-facing teams were on the frontline for managing customer frustrations — which can be stressful for customer care teams to manage. ”

Additionally , Fujita points out that the isolation and isolation of the remote lifestyle may also impact the productivity of support repetitions. “Without teammates ‘on the floor’ for guidance, support escalations can increase when the rep feels tied to no one to turn to for help… which can slow down just how quickly we can control customer queries as a result. ”

takeaki quote on how covid impacted customer service

To reduce the loneliness and frustration for your team, you might consider providing remote coaching for the support reps. Because Fujita told me, championing collaboration within and across teams, encouraging transparency, and maintaining communication channels open up is vital for enabling reps to share information and learn from one one more.

Fujita adds, “Empowering reps along with recurring virtual assistance and proactive coaching can lay the foundations for efficient, personalized support relationships, which can only assist our customers to grow better. ”

5. Services reps needed to create or nurture the stronger sense associated with empathy in their consumer interactions.

When a consumer is calling a client service representative, they’re usually facing a difficult, frustrating, or disruptive situation. In 2020, it became significantly important for service repetitions to lead with empathy  in their discussions with customers.

As Moz’s Customer care Lead Natalie Alexis puts it, “Early on, we saw an increase in customers seeking help for their companies to survive. To better support those dealing with the particular impact of the pandemic, our services had to evolve so we directed to lead with increased empathy in our interactions — this delivered a sense of camaraderie with the customers. ”

“But as the pandemic has persisted, ” Alexis adds, “we’ve seen the affects of the sustained tension on our customers. We have continued to focus on delivering empathic service whilst acknowledging the increasingly stressful times we all live in. ”

alexis quote on how covid impacted customer support

Sympathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is especially critical for customer support reps. To help your team develop empathy, consider how you might show them what your customers experience on a daily basis.

If you sell software, for instance, you’ll want to ensure your customer support reps have the ability to been trained in using your software — the challenges these people experience as they figure out how to use your tools will help them understand and relate to your customers’ challenges, as well.  

Alnaica Augustave, an EMEA Client Specialist at HubSpot, agrees that empathy has never been more critical in the support sector. She says, “COVID-19 has had an impact upon customer service — particularly in the way of working and interacting with customers to have open communication plus listening. ”

Augustave adds, “We have seen an increase within customer service volume shifts with COVID-19, and order to reduce consumer frustration and stress, we have adjusted the infrastructure and focused on listening, increasing our own empathy during this period. ”

So … What’s Following?

Gammage told me that this pandemic has forced his support business to learn how to roll with the punches — and this flexibility will probably remain necessary continuing to move forward.

As Gammage puts it, “Going ahead, I think that the targets of customers will still be high, but reps ought to expect to have even more touchpoints with customers. inch

You’ll want to guarantee your customers are offered diverse options when it comes to getting in contact with your support group — for instance, perhaps you offer live talk, Messenger on Fb or Instagram, TEXT MESSAGE text messages, and a cell phone line. To improve these processes, consider a tool like MobileMonkey, which enables you to notice all customer communications in one place.

Additionally , as the remote control customer support world continues to evolve, it’s vital you remain open to alter and willing to alter your team’s processes to fit the new requirements of your customers.

As Sbeih told me, “Customer service has been, and will continue to be, prosperous in remote plus hybrid environments. Work-from-home flexibility, retention, productivity, and work-life stability will continue to find improvements. However , the adjustment will remain difficult for those who aren’t self-starters and may require additional support. ”

Ultimately, it’s essential your team pay attention to your customers and iterate over time to continue providing reliable, helpful strategies to their problems.

Remember: Your company success starts and ends with great support, so it’s essential you invest in your own support team for the long-haul, particularly because the world adjusts to some world post-pandemic.  

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