As we begin another year, it’s a good time to reflect on the latest customer service trends and changes in the role of contact centers.
This is important because as trends come and go, companies need to adjust service levels to meet any new requirements and customer satisfaction expectations. Even if you’re not aware of it, the industry has seen quite a few major changes this year that will have a substantial influence on management-related decisions going forward.
Here are the top trends in customer service to look out for in 2022.
1. Customers switch to social media channels for purchases
As social media continues to grow, businesses are creating more and more social media profiles to attract consumers.
And it’s a two-way street. Customers are also showing their inclination towards social media to enquire about products and even to purchase them. Plus, social media is turning out to be a convenient platform to address customer issues.
As per a recent survey, 67% of customers have bought a product after chancing upon an ad on social media.
And among all the social media platforms, Facebook has maximum influence on customer behavior. The same survey suggests that 52% of consumers would be willing to purchase something from a brand they follow on Facebook.
Even big brands like Nike are jumping the bandwagon and running attractive ad campaigns on Facebook to drive sales.
Take this eye-catching Nike ad, for instance:
Many businesses are catching up, small and big alike. In fact, as many as 41% of companies have accelerated digital transformation efforts as a result of the pandemic.
2. Online customers want instant responses from brands
It's a fact that people love the immediacy of technology. They want things done fast, and they want them now. In light of that, it's no surprise that people expect instant responses when they ping a customer service contact at their favorite brand on social media or send an email.
In a recent survey, 90% of customers rated immediate response as important or very important when they have a customer service query.
Many brands are now paying heed to these demands, providing this kind of immediate response using various CX management solutions.
Statistics suggest that almost half of the U.S.-based CX professionals implement a CX management solution. 70% of them reveal that the ROI is “high” or “very high.”
Companies can also utilize live chat software tools to provide rapid responses to questions or concerns customers may have; it contributes to building a good customer experience and saves costs by limiting the need for a telephone-based customer service.
3. Customers are more environmentally conscious
More environmentally conscious customers are now altering how businesses operate and design their services and operations.
In time, this will turn into a shift in customer preferences, thus creating an ongoing cycle of change. This is something that service providers, big and small, should plan for right now.
In a 2020 survey, 45% of respondents stated that they try to find brands that are sustainable or environmentally responsible. Similarly, 44% said they try to find brands that support recycling.
Naturally, environmentally conscious brands are also likely to see more success as it boosts customer loyalty and optimize customer retention. The recent 2022 State of CX Report suggests that boosting customer loyalty is the top priority for CX managers.
Let’s consider how Lyft overturned their public image using more sustainable means.
Lyft, an 11 billion dollar ride-hailing company, faced public scrutiny for adding to emission and increasing congestion. Paying heed to public ire, the company shared its 2025 climate impact goals that included a switch to autonomous electric vehicles powered by renewable energy. It also went ahead and made a multi-million dollar investment to make rides carbon-neutral. By 2019, the company had invested more than $2 million in carbon credits.
A large part of Lyft’s success can be attributed to this marketing angle. In 2017, Lyft had control over a third of the U.S. ride-sharing market.
4. Customer experience becomes a more important pillar
For most customers, it's the customer service and overall experience that counts.
Given the rising adoption of omnichannel support, it’s critical for businesses to have a dedicated team working on improving their customer experience. From improving website speed to boosting worker engagement, businesses can benefit from improved customer experience by retaining existing customers, gaining more loyal ones, and mitigating churn.
What’s more, brands that make it easy to contact them and offer consistent responses online are clearly doing a better job than those who ignore or avoid customers.
According to the latest HubSpot research, 48% of customer service professionals consider offering a great customer experience a top priority. GetFeedback's study suggests that 73% of businesses have increased their efforts to offer a personalized experience to customers.
Here are the approaches companies are employing to improve customer experience:
Personalized product and service recommendations
Dynamic website experiences
Segmented customer messaging
These strategies will help your customer service agents get a deeper understanding of customers and provide a personalized experience based on customer data.
Naturally, keeping up with customer experience trends and customer expectations bodes well for companies. For instance, when a European Healthcare provider with problems within their Lead to Cash process improved customer experience, it led to additional revenue via cross-selling and upselling.
5. Automation takes the spotlight through robots
The need to change directions to respond to changing factors in the market, consumer needs, and new concerns is more prevalent than ever before. In fact, 77% of CX professionals stated that their customers want digital-first experiences.
Robotic process automation (RPA) has come to the rescue. Automation is at the core of customer experience trends these days and one of the most prominent customer service strategies. This innovation has enabled businesses to streamline their entire customer service processes.
From live chat through to virtual assistants, these tools enable higher levels of service to be achieved than ever before, in tandem with more personalized interactions.
They further allow companies to improve their bottom line by reducing man-hours spent on non-vital processes and even allowing more time for frontline service staff to focus on customer interaction as well.
For instance, CXP, a company that offers outsourced contact centers for some of the UK’s biggest brands was able to reduce 10-minute interactions to six minutes with robotic process automation.
As a result, customers could get their queries resolved more promptly.
Apart from that, automation can also personalize the whole experience. Currently, CXP has 14 robots that undertake 158,400 tasks, and save 13,200 hours. The bots also increase accuracy by 18% and boost Trust Pilot scores for clients by about 52%.
In addition, people want to solve problems themselves, leading to a rise in self-service options offered by companies, including a well-designed knowledge base.
6. Changes in the role of customer contact centers
As customer contact centers continue to evolve, they will likely continue to increase their use of technology, augmenting their services with innovative products and tools like chatbots and virtual assistants.
While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by these changes, the experience that each company creates for customers remains a key attribute in the continuing success of customer contact centers.
In fact, many of the best customer interaction experiences are characterized by a seamless combination of human touch, live interactions, and automation such as digital menus.
Millennials, in particular, dislike phone calls and getting in touch with the contact center for minor issues. As customer contact centers continue to evolve, they are becoming increasingly hybrid - with a blend of human agents and Artificial Intelligence.
Companies are also gearing up to keep up with the latest trends. If you look at the statistics, 85% of businesses are likely to offer live chat support by 2022.
With 60% of CX teams already adding extra customer feedback touchpoints during COVID-19, customer contact centers will also follow an omnichannel communication approach, and for good reason. According to CX Today, 9 out of 10 consumers expect an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods.
As customers demand ever-improving standards from support services, the role of contact centers transforms. To meet demands for high-quality support, companies must implement new ways to communicate with their customers, thereby enabling them to benefit from a more productive interaction.
7. Risk of customer service personnel burnout
Customer service is as important now as it has ever been and good customer service can lead to an increase in purchases and a desirable company reputation.
However, being a customer service agent requires a lot from one’s mind and body. This especially holds true today with unparalleled competition in terms of customer service.
Many new studies also show that customer service professionals are under more pressure and that they suffer from burnout more frequently. According to a study by Toister Solutions, 74% of customer support professionals are at risk of burnout.
A survey by Deloitte shows a whopping 77% of respondents suggested that their employer is not doing enough to prevent burnout in the workplace.
If this trend continues, then businesses need to take a hard look at their training methods, employee benefits, or maybe even at the whole customer service model. Whatever the case for this shift in business strategies might be, businesses can't ignore it.
To reduce the number of call-backs, businesses should ensure that their customer service representatives are fully staffed, have adequate training in the software used to expedite common tasks and receive regular breaks.
It’s also crucial to implement workload management fairly to avoid burnout. By proactively managing your team’s workload, you can defend against stressful situations, remain in control, and keep employees humming along without burning out.
8. Remote work will continue
As more and more companies grow to understand the benefits of remote work, we’re likely to see the number of such positions increase in parallel. Ultimately, this trend will be fueled by the need to cut costs in the face of a shrinking pool of talent across the board.
As per Gartner, remote employees will represent approximately 31% of the worldwide workforce in 2022.
Customer service jobs won’t be exempt from this phenomenon. The next few years will likely see companies searching for ways to streamline their call center operations without sacrificing customer service.
If that means hiring remote workers and incentivizing them right, getting blowout performance out of them is well within reason.
And even workers seem to be elated with the prospect of working from home. In fact, 47% of employees in a study stated that their work-life balance has been affected positively by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The same study stated that 70% percent of organizations saw financial growth in 2021 as opposed to 2020. These numbers hint at the productivity of the remote work trend.
Let’s see another case study to understand the trend.
A U.S.-based firm surveyed 715 companies, representing more than 3 million American employees, to assess the productivity level of working remotely. The study examined more than 800,000 responses and assessed productivity.
They evaluated employee productivity from March to August of 2020 and compared it to the same period in 2019. The study found out that productivity had increased while working remotely.
This trend justifies the decision to embrace remote work opportunities and finding value in the trend toward more virtual experiences.
However, you should have the right remote work policy in place if you plan to employ remote workers. It can be a big part of making your employees feel valued, and therefore increasing overall employee satisfaction.
Keep up with customer demands
The customer service trends for 2022 outlined above are only a glimpse into the future of customer service; they demonstrate how businesses need to redefine themselves to keep up with the customers’ demands.
It would seem that in 2022, it won’t be enough just to meet consumer expectations. Businesses will also have to use new technologies and innovate now more than ever before.
Customers will also expect companies to provide self-service options, omnichannel customer engagement, personal connections with the support team based on data analytics, and the inclusion of digital channels.
It’s time for brands like yours to keep experimenting and formulate new ideas to help them stay ahead of the curve.
For more findings on the current state of customer service as well as other emerging CX trends, download The 2022 State of CX Report.
Guest author Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content.