2021 State of Customer Service: Industry Change
By Joel Sylvester, Chief Marketing Officer, Five Star Call Centers
Each year, Five Star Call Centers shares the State of Customer Service to shed light on trends and insights that impact the customer service industry. Our team has garnered this information from best practices, tradeshows, conferences, and publications we’ve reviewed throughout the year. In this three-part series featuring industry, technology, and people, we dive into each topic and provide you information and resources for your business. New parts in the series will be release May 13 (Industry), May 20 (Technology), and May 27 (People).
Customer Service on the Flip Side of the Pandemic
The evolution of customer service changed drastically in the face of 2020. Look at any store, restaurant, or service provider, and the difference from 2019 to 2020 is astonishing. But what may have seemed dim and unfathomable in 2020 is giving way to a new, bright day for the consumer in 2021. With customer service right in the center.
Where’s Your Next Customer Coming From?
Brand Loyalty in a Customer-Centric Industry
Brand loyalty? It has been touted as a thing of the past. Or so we thought. Then 2020 turned us upside down. Companies had been grappling with consumers shopping around on pricing and two-day shipping and brand loyalty seemed to be left firmly in the past.
Then 2020 brought temporary closures. Shipments were delayed. Products sat back-ordered for months. And the American consumer…waited. But this did not happen overnight. As products disappeared and services were delayed, the consumer turned to customer service representatives for answers. And when those messages of delays and backorders came from a friendly, empathetic customer service representative, those consumers did something they would not have done months before. They waited for products. And they purchased gift cards for services.
It was great customer service that kept customers loyal and brought new customers in, even when consumers were not getting the answers they wanted.
“How are we going to keep our new customers and how do we re-win our lost customers?”
But now it’s 2021, and you must, yes, MUST, be asking yourself, “How are we going to keep our new customers and how do we re-win our lost customers?” The answer lies right in your customer service team.
Great customer service will keep customers coming back. New customers will stay. Old customers will come back. When you can get a product from hundreds of places, it’s the care that a customer receives will make them a returning customer.
The impact of last year means that in 2021 items like first call resolution, net promoter scores, customer effort scores, and customer satisfaction scores are driving business success. And you need to be prepared to provide the best customer service experience.
So, what’s the right mix for great customer care? Focus on these key elements. The right team of people and the right channel mix to meet the type of customer you want coming through your doors, be it brick-and-mortar or virtually. Then measure, measure, measure.
Your Customer is Typing. Are You Answering?
Digital Customer Care Channels in 2021
2020 showed just how important customer service channels beyond voice truly are to the customer. Surges in email, chat, social media, and text service channels are a trend that is key in 2021.
If you added these channels in 2020, you must be mapping a long-term plan for customer service excellence for these channels. If these are service channels you’re still not offering, know that these are quickly becoming care channels that customers expect businesses to have available to them. Look at your ideal customer base and make sure you are offering the right mix of customer service channels. Then layout a plan to execute them well.
Saving Dollars: How Work-From-Home Can Save You from Budget Year 2020
Work-from-home wasn’t a new concept in 2020, but it wasn’t exactly mainstream either. Early last year, many jumped in feet first and quickly moved their call centers to work-from-home. It became a test for many. Could quality customer care be offered with a 100% work-from-home team?
Quality customer care can be provided in a 100% work-from-home environment.
Overall, a resounding “YES!” is being heard across the industry. And with the success of work-from-home, your customer care teams can not only can help drive consumer spending and loyalty, but they can also provide a huge opportunity for businesses to save in overhead. Companies save through:
- Reduced office space and supply expenditures
- Increased productivity – Less distraction and reduced tardiness
- Reduced sick leave – up to $1,800 per employee per year
- Easier to engage staff to fill overtime needs for short periods
Work-from-home not only can save companies, but it leads to happier employees. Forty-three percent of American employees want to continue to work from home after the pandemic has ended. Work-from-home also saves employees from out-of-pocket expenses – to the tune of $4,000 per year in gas, coffee, lunch, and other expenses.
Securing the Nation: Customer Service Security in a Digital World
There are many great benefits to a work-from-home team, along with the opportunities to provide care across many digital platforms. And with these opportunities comes due diligence to security.
To be honest, it’s security in my own business the keeps me up at night. But, by understanding and being transparent about weaknesses, our industry can continue to work together to protect our customers and clients, along with our important data. Technology coming down the pipeline in our industry will allow us to provide game-changing customer service. It’s key that we keep security top of mind with every decision we make.
About Five Star Call Centers
Five Star Calls Centers has been an industry leader in the contact center outsourcing industry for over 35 years. They deliver voice, IVR, digital, and consulting services across the U.S. and are dedicated to learning and implementing state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge practices.
About the Author – Joel Sylvester
Joel’s career spans hundreds of companies and helping each enhance their customer experience. He has recruited, trained, and coached award-winning customer services teams across the globe in industries spanning retail, finance, product support, healthcare, hospitality and more. Today, Joel serves as partner and chief sales and marketing officer for Five Star Call Centers, an outsourcing call center with five locations based in the Midwest.