In the modern business world, providing excellent customer service is now, more than ever, a major priority. And it makes sense – according to Dial Afrika’s research and development team, nearly 77% of customers feel more loyal to companies that offer exceptional service.
But what does fantastic customer service look like today? Are people’s expectations different now?
Customer service becomes the face of the brand
Remember when businesses relied so heavily on their customer support teams? Recently, they’ve been handling an unprecedented surge of support requests – a whopping 35% more than the previous year. As more clients make online purchases, support agents have become the main way customers interact with brands.
With in-person experiences becoming scarcer, customer support agents have stepped into various crucial roles. They’re now the warm welcome at the entrance, the assistant in the virtual dressing room, and the cashier at the online checkout. Sometimes, they’ve even been a friendly shoulder to lean on.
It’s no wonder that customer support has become a major factor in building brand loyalty. Half of customers today consider it more crucial than they did a year ago. As customer expectations rise, the stakes are even higher: a single bad experience will prompt 56% of customers to take their business elsewhere. This leaves little room for mistakes, and as a result, 67% of companies are focusing more on enhancing the customer experience in 2023.
Accelerate your digital transformation
Forget about long-term plans for transitioning to digital – the time to act is now. An impressive 75% of business leaders agree that the global pandemic has sped up the timeline for adopting new technologies, in order to better connect with customers and streamline remote service teams.
Here’s how quickly digital adoption has increased:
- 52% say digital adoption has sped up by 1-3 years.
- 28% say it has accelerated by 4-7 years.
Innovative solutions and technologies are no longer just for tech-savvy individuals – they’re becoming essential for all teams. More than half of businesses across the globe anticipate increasing their investments in customer experience within the next year. Those who fail to adapt risk falling behind.
Companies are eager to invest in technologies that will help enhance the customer journey by:
- Offering more communication channels
- Enhancing data security
- Increasing flexibility
- Improving internal collaboration
- Making decisions based on data insights
- Automating business operations
- Transitioning to cloud-based solutions
Leading with values is what customers expect
COVID-19 transformed how we live, and as a result, customers now expect businesses to align with their values and address important issues. Providing quick and convenient service is no longer sufficient. Companies must now connect with their customers on matters that are important to them.
- 65% of customers prefer to buy from socially responsible companies.
- 58% seek out companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- 53% want to interact with empathetic customer service representatives.
One effective approach to building stronger connections with customers is by placing them at the heart of everything you do. Unsure where to begin? Customer data can provide valuable insights. By understanding your customers better, you’ll gain insights into the issues that matter most to them.
The soaring popularity of messaging
If 2020 had a breakout star, it would be messaging. While people were staying home, they turned to familiar communication channels like WhatsApp and text messaging. Surprisingly, almost a third of customers contacted a company for the first time using messaging in 2020, and an impressive 74% have continued doing so.
Throughout the pandemic:
- Phone support tickets saw an 9% increase
- SMS/text support tickets increased by 35%
- Live chat support tickets rose by 33%
- Social media support tickets grew by 19%
- WhatsApp support tickets skyrocketed by 223%
- Email/webform support tickets went up by 18%
Given that messaging offers fast, personal, convenient, and secure support, it’s no wonder that both customers and businesses are embracing it. Social messaging app usage surged faster than any other channel in 2020, especially among younger customers. As a result, 57% of companies transitioned to messaging as a new communication channel and the number has continued to soar.
Messaging channels are not only easy to set up and utilize, but they also provide an improved experience for agents. In fact, agents are 59% more inclined to engage in messaging conversations with customers compared to traditional live chat. The reason? Messaging allows them to handle multiple inquiries simultaneously, and conversations remain accessible even after a chat window is closed.
Automation enhances experiences for Al
As messaging becomes more popular, using AI and automated chatbots has also surged. Interactions with automated bots have grown with a remarkable 87% in 2023, and they’ve quickly become a vital component of effective messaging strategies. Chatbots enable round-the-clock responses, and seamless transitions between bots and human agents eliminate the need for customers to repeat themselves.
Customers find chatbots most useful for simple tasks like order tracking or balance checks. This is especially true when customers require swift responses outside of regular business hours. Chatbots can even suggest relevant self-service content to provide answers when agents aren’t available.
For more complex issues, such as technical support or returns, chatbots can notify human agents when they’re available. This seamless blend of automation and human support ensures customers receive the best possible assistance.
Flexibility takes centre stage
Automated chatbots are just one avenue for more efficient ticket processing. After years of volatility, companies are determined to foster greater agility within their support teams. Adapting to change swiftly was the biggest challenge faced by managers last year.
To achieve greater agility, support leaders must:
- Rapidly scale their operations
- Streamline workflows across teams
- Alleviate pressure on agents
Teams that haven’t adopted the above yet should consider an omnichannel approach, which consolidates all available communication channels into a single workspace. Workflow management tools such as automations, macros, and triggers are also immensely beneficial. These tools offer automated email updates and predefined responses for agents, freeing up time for addressing more complex issues. Notably, support teams with quick response times and satisfied customers are over twice as likely to use these tools.
Support teams are embracing agility by training agents to handle multiple channels using their knowledge base to tackle common inquiries. The number of “blended agents,” those proficient across various channels, surged by 40% over the past year. Additionally, knowledge base articles increased by 27% worldwide, proactively addressing common customer questions through self-service.
The power of transparent data handling
A single negative customer service experience can drive away half of your customers. However, it’s not solely poor support or delayed orders that can lead customers to switch companies. Transparency in how businesses collect, use, and share personal data now significantly impacts customer-company relationships. An astonishing 71% of customers would leave a company that shares their data without permission, according to a 2020 McKinsey survey.
Balancing this delicate dance is essential. Customers desire personalization, but at the same time, they’re becoming more cautious about giving companies access to their data. Regulators have set guidelines, but it’s up to businesses to clearly communicate what data they collect and why. Mastering this balance could be the difference between retaining loyal customers and losing them. Companies that swiftly address this challenge are likely to gain a competitive advantage based on trust.
Evolution of customer expectations
According to Dial Afrika’s Customer Experience Trends Report, customers value the following aspects most:
- Quick issue resolution
- Support from empathetic agents
- 24/7 availability
- Choice of preferred communication channels
- Proactive assistance
Although speedy issue resolution remains crucial, customers now demand more from their interactions with support agents. Empathy, which experienced significant growth, now holds the same importance as 24/7 availability. Over the past year, companies have had to adapt in unprecedented ways while customer service’s significance has only grown.
Customers desire convenience and speed, but they’re also seeking empathy and alignment with issues they care about. They crave personalized service while favoring companies that are transparent about their policies. Meeting this high standard during challenging times could mean the difference between maintaining loyal customers or losing them. Companies that invest in smarter solutions and quick adaptation to evolving customer preferences will be well-equipped to navigate any future uncertainties.
Ready to revolutionize your customer interactions? Elevate your communication game with Dial Afrika’s Bonga CX! Say goodbye to pain points and hello to seamless CRM, VOIP, and Chatdesk solutions. Discover the future of customer experiences at www.dialafrika.com. Let’s transform your business together!
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