Every year, we make strategic improvements to our customer support processes to create positive customer experiences. We accelerate our response time to lessen the frustration customers feel when waiting on hold. Our support agents tap into new technologies to deliver more useful answers and solutions. And we continuously integrate additional communication channels into our arsenal to make customer support easier for shoppers and agents alike.
Not surprisingly, 2021 is gearing up to be an especially exciting year for customer support advancements, as emerging solutions posture to take center stage and a new paradigm challenges the way we care for our customers.
Here, we’ll dig into 5 big trends we can expect to see as we transition from 2020 to 2021.
Perhaps the biggest change we can expect to see as we head into January is the shift from reactive customer support to proactive customer care.
In the past, retail and eCommerce businesses would simply wait for customers to call, send an email, or create a helpdesk ticket, before offering support, solutions, or answers. But with shoppers expecting better and faster customer service, that approach is no longer viable. To keep customers engaged and happy, businesses need to anticipate their needs and provide answers and solutions before they’re requested.
This upcoming year, proactive customer care will likely take on many forms, including proactive notifications on account issues, relevant product recommendations during each customers’ shopping experience, website and app improvements based on visitors’ behavior and feedback, and so on.
Customers don’t always have the time or patience to wait for a live support agent to help them. And fortunately, in many cases, they don’t need to. Between chatbots – that rely on machine learning to answer customer questions – and self-serve options like knowledge centers, most customers have the tools to resolve their issues on their own.
In some cases, they can even tap into newer self-serve options, like Visual IVR solutions, that make it easier for customers to access highly personal information on their own such as order status and account details.
As we move into 2021, we can expect these self-serve options to continue growing in popularity, as customer support teams are able to spend their time on challenging questions and businesses are able to keep customers happier with faster support.
Most retail and eCommerce businesses are aware of the benefits social media offers to customer support teams. Besides being an easy way to show off your customer care prowess, the speed of social media enables you to build stronger relationships with your customers — no matter what their experience has been up to that point.
However, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t the only social platforms that businesses can use to connect with their customers, anymore. With the increasing demand for image and video content (particularly among Millennials and Gen Zers), YouTube, Snapchat, and Pinterest may also become popular outlets for providing customer care in the upcoming year.
Outsourced Customer Support
Until recently, the majority of customer support was handled in-house, either by a single team in a single office location or by several teams in several different locations.
But with the increasing demands on customer support teams to provide faster response times and around the clock help, many retail and eCommerce businesses will need to find alternative methods to deliver high-quality customer care as they continue to scale in 2021.
For some, this may involve bringing on some freelance talent to support the in-house customer service team. But for many others, outsourcing to full-scale customer service teams will be a necessity to keep up with the influx of support tickets, social media comments, SMS messages, phone calls, and emails.
Regardless of which channels retail and eCommerce businesses choose to adopt in 2021, it’s clear that relying on a single communication channel is no longer possible. While some shoppers still prefer to talk on the phone or send an email, others are more apt to live chat, text, video chat, or use social media to connect with the brands they shop.
Fortunately, businesses can tap into omnichannel solutions in 2021 to manage all of their customer service outlets. They can answer calls via the cloud, send SMS messages, reply to emails, and even connect on social media in some cases.
As a result, they can quickly and effectively meet their customers’ needs and keep up with each customers’ experience without burning out.
With a myriad of new trends looking to shape customer care in 2021, we have a lot to look forward to. The trick now is to select the trends that will best benefit your team (and your customers) as we move into the new year.