CX in 2021

The landscape in both B2B and B2C industries is evolving, and brands must adapt to survive. Past articles looked at how more consumers are flocking to digital platforms and are more willing to explore and try new brands. What else is known, and what can be done to meet the challenge?

Expectations Rising

Although customer expectations are increasing, most customer satisfaction teams aren’t meeting those expectations. That’s the findings of a recent survey by Intercom, a U.S. messaging platform company. In its survey of nearly 600 customer support leaders spanning retail, healthcare, education, and tech industries, 73% acknowledged that customer expectations had risen, but only 42% conceded that they were meeting those expectations.

Of those polled, 18% told Intercom their top challenge was meeting customer expectations. Next in priority was increasing workflow efficiency (14%), followed by helping their customer service staff manage their volume (13%).

New Playbook

The revelation of these areas of focus comes at a time that budgets are shrinking. Of those polled, 62% of companies reported having to reduce the size of customer support teams due to the economic downturn. Many said they’re looking to technology to help offset the loss of staff.

In its poll, Intercom identified longer wait times, and lower customer retention as two areas in which tech might be helpful.55% of respondents said they plan on using part of their budget to get support tools that can help manage the volume of conversation. Three-quarters (77%) already use one to ten tools, while 44% report using six to ten. However, despite tech providing knowledge bases, phone support, and ticketing systems, 46% of those surveyed said tech prevents them from reaching their goals.

Over half (54%) of respondents believe the issue is organizational and plan to optimize their tech tools over the next year. Of those polled, 41% reported being slowed down by siloed tools on a weekly and even daily basis. Two main areas of focus are the automation of chatbot and responses to customer questions.

Shifting to Proactive

Rather than reacting to customers, 78% reported wanting to move to a more proactive approach and get ahead of known customer questions and issues before they come up. Many see it as a solution to 72-hour turnaround times and stressed out customer service staff. The expectation is that most customers will appreciate bot only being alerted to possible issues before they arise but how they might avert them,

Chatbot Rise

With the growing acceptance and popularity of chatbots, 50% of those polled said they plan to invest even more in automation in the next year. Of those using chatbots, 60% reported improvements in resolution times and a 30% improvement in customer satisfaction due to faster responses.

ROI

The major challenge for customer support leaders seeking to prove their worth to senior staff is proving the value of good customer service. While customer satisfaction is acknowledged as good to achieve, there’s no direct link to ROI. Intercom found that 30% of respondents plan to measure customer retention as another way to demonstrate the value of good customer service. Another 25% also say they’ll be measuring the same for customer renewals.

Bottom Line

Successful customer support centers use tech to quickly address common issues and free up staff to manage more complex ones. At the same time, they’re leveraging tech to proactively alert customers about potential issues before rather than after the fact. And to validate their efforts, they measure both customer retention and renewals.