This article was written by Paul O’Hara.
2020 is finally behind us! The Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out here in the UK, and there are other successful vaccines becoming available, so once they can ramp up production we should see some normalcy returning. But what does this mean for customer service in 2021?
I think the most fundamental change we will see, compared to last year, is that work-from-home (WFH) will remain a feature of most customer service solutions. Even where it is possible for agents to return to the contact centre, many executives will choose to create a more agile team that can work from home or from the centre. This naturally builds more resilience into the processes and will help if the vaccine roll-out takes many months, or even if there is a new virus (please don’t let that happen anytime soon).
But that’s fairly obvious and most people would expect it. What else might change? Here are a few of my ideas about what will emerge as priorities in 2021. I am basing these predictions on my industry experience, input from clients, and following what the leading analysts are saying:
1. Self-service: I think there will be a lot more attention on self-service and not just as a deflection strategy, but as an integrated part of a positive customer journey. Many customers turn first to Google or Alexa when they have a problem, so it’s important that they’re getting good search results rather than just a PDF version of an FAQ document.
2. Relationship focus: The metrics used in contact centers are usually focused on the individual interactions - how long did a call last, was the issue resolved on the first contact by the customer? I believe we will also be exploring more metrics that look at the lifetime value of a customer and how we can start thinking about customer interactions in decades, not just minutes.
3. Data analysis: It is increasingly important to know your customer. We have huge amounts of data on their likes, dislikes, and preferences. It’s time to start turning that data into actionable offers that actively improve the relationship (and can lead to additional sales/revenue!).
4. Pivot to digital: Many industries have dramatically changed because of Covid-19 and it’s likely that they will need support in modifying how they interact with their customers. Retail is a good example - it’s a very different type of customer interaction when predominantly online.
5. Simplicity: Customers want to use their preferred contact channel, but they also want greater simplicity. There are too many poor chatbot installations that leave customers tearing their hair out. Customers are looking for a single HELP button that can quickly connect them through to a more proficient bot, or to a human agent. We need improved design thinking to make customer support as simple and streamlined as possible.
About the author
Paul O’Hara is Senior Vice President of Business Development at Teleperformance. With 20-years’ experience in the CX Management industry, he helps organizations address Customer Experience Management challenges within the complex European mosaic of markets, cultures, and languages.