Once a business uncovers customer pain points, immediate action must be taken to improve CX, thereby building loyal customer relationships.
Of all the lessons businesses have learned in the past couple years, the importance of customer service is right at the top. As we look ahead to customer service trends for 2022, it’s certain to become an even bigger priority for businesses.
Usually the main way a company interacts with its customers in real-time, customer service has a powerful impact on everything from satisfaction and loyalty to brand reputation and the bottom line.
The accelerated shift to a digital-first world means that in-person interactions between customers and brands are likely to remain relatively limited next year, with the bulk migrating to or remaining online. This means the customer service function must continue to evolve. Brands will need to think more strategically about customer service.
5 customer service trends to watch in 2022
Now let’s take a look at customer service trends we expect to emerge – or become increasingly important – in the coming year:
- Customer service becomes the brand
- Managing service talent is mission critical
- Service will play a bigger role in C-level strategy
- Customer service continues to transform business, becoming a crucial player throughout the organization, including social media teams
- AI becomes table stakes
Customer service = The face of the brand
In recent years, companies have recognized that customer service is a very real extension of the brand, a human face or voice that ideally represents the best of the brand’s desired attributes.
Going forward, however, simply acknowledging that service agents are part of the overall brand equation isn’t enough.
Because at the moment of customer interaction, the service actually becomes the brand.
When a customer engages with your service department, that interaction has enormous power to shape their perception of your brand. The more that customers embrace digital channels, the truer this becomes.
This customer service trend means organizations need to think creatively about how to solve for intangibles like empathy and tone of voice. They need to ensure agents have ready access to the right information, at the right time, to solve whatever issue or customer pain point that may arise – even in rapidly changing situations.
Talent management and retention becomes a top service trend
Across industries and geographies, hiring and retaining quality customer service staff has been an enduring challenge. Not surprisingly, COVID has changed the nature of the challenge.
While employees view work-from-home options – which many service leaders now offer – as as a benefit, for employers it means figuring out how to create a unified culture when service agents aren’t co-located. It’s also challenging to create a career path for service agents when they have limited exposure to other parts of the organization.
But having motivated agents is critical to service success – they’re essential for delivering the level of service customers demand.
Organizations will be under pressure to address talent retention challenges.
The brands with the best customer service in 2022 have not ranked before. Discover the brands that have risen and fallen in rank since 2019.
Customer service moves to the top of the c-suite agenda
Digital transformation continues to accelerate, with C-level executives looking at new ways to grow the business. Customer service has come into its own as a growth driver.
It’s fair to say that customer experience – with service as a supporting pillar – is receiving more C-level attention than ever before, with many organizations now viewing it as an important element of strategic planning.
How will this customer service trend play out? For one thing, C-level execs – and not just the CMO – are likely to redouble their focus on omnichannel customer experience across the full journey, from consideration to purchase to after-sales support.
This means better understanding the customer and their history of interactions with the company, and making sure that information informs all customer touchpoints, regardless of channel. The effort won’t go unnoticed: customers reward top-notch service with greater loyalty, and greater share of wallet.
Business is about buying things, selling things, and engaging with customers. CX is about providing experiences that make people want to engage with you, buy from you, and buy again.
AI becomes basic: Smart technology drives expectations for consumers
Thanks to intelligent technologies, organizations can use automate customer service tasks, allowing reps to spend more time with customer problems that are more challenging to solve.
Automated suggestions can also assist employees in locating the correct solutions – thereby shortening resolution times.
When it comes to e-commerce, customers expect to quickly find answers, either with a chatbot to solve simple problems, or to get pointed to a human who can help. AI technologies make the service experience smooth and seamless.
In a digital world, customer service is crucial. Improve customer service for e-commerce, then watch loyalty and revenue soar.
Rubber meets the road: Service drives transformation
Traditionally, the customer service function has evolved to keep pace with changes in other parts of the organization – for example, the embrace of e-commerce. Now, we’re seeing service organizations come into their own as strategic partners in business innovation.
A powerful example of this kind of evolution is Goodyear, which is undergoing a transformation from a product to a service company. By building sophisticated sensors into their tires, Goodyear will be able to collect an enormous amount of data – about how an individual customer’s tires are performing, when they need to be replaced, and so on.
For this new business model to work, however, service agents must be fully trained and readily available to guide customers who are receiving real-time updates about the performance and condition of their tires.
In the case of Goodyear, the service organization becomes positioned at the leading edge of business innovation.
It’s the type of approach that’s likely to become ever more common in the years ahead.