FACT: We all feel different as customers today than we did two years ago. Personally, my patience is thinner than ever, and it makes sense when we think about what we are all dealing with— children home for exposure after exposure, careers we love and want to excel in (as the aforementioned kids crawl all over our keyboards), the need for self-care and family time, and simply remembering to do all of the adulting things like tax returns (we really have to do this every year?). If you throw in a call to a customer service department for something that shouldn’t have been an issue—personally, it’s a tipping point for me.

A colleague forwarded me an article the other week from Medallia on the Customer Service Trends for 2022 Report and I found it articulated a lot of what I was feeling . . . and more.

The article centered around four main trends that could look depressing for a CS Leader on the surface, but they were complemented with nuggets of golden opportunities. And because of all we’re dealing with now, consumers still point to customer service as a differentiating factor in who they choose to do business with. As the Medallia report says, “In fact, 95% of consumers consider CS in some capacity when making purchase decisions.”

We want to know that when something goes wrong, it will be easy to fix. We have no time for the alternative.

The four trends started with the fact that consumer patience will continue to decrease.

There’s a barrage of scary but unsurprising statistics about consumer loyalty. For example, in the last year, 53% of consumers say they have switched brands due to a poor customer experience. The message is clear that there is a continued need to focus on the customer service team’s skills. They are one of the most important people standing in the gap between your consumers and your company’s brand success. Yet the budget for frontline rep training typically looks stark.

One other thing I found surprising is that 41% of consumers across the US and UK still prefer the phone as their channel of choice. I chalk it up to the human effect; when you have an issue you truly need solved, you want another human to hear, empathize, and advocate for you.

The Need for Speed Will Continue to Increase

The data here echoed what CS folks probably feel day in and day out, which is that customers are becoming increasingly unreasonable. They want quick resolution, but they also want personalization.

I personally had an interaction with a brand known for fantastic customer service this past weekend. There was an issue with my order so I went to the website, and they recommended texting them. I sent a text and got an autoreply that “Someone will be with you.” Three minutes went by and I was back on their site looking for another way to contact them so that I could be done with this issue. I received a text back HOURS later and wanted to tell them: “My chance to focus on this issue is long gone.”

Despite the irritation, the resolution for my issue was fast once I got to a better channel (an aside: they should really quit chat if they can’t do it well). Ergo, I’m still going to be fiercely loyal to this brand. And that speaks to their recommendation in the article: “The value of good training for customer service teams as they aim to keep their customer effort score (CES) low and get to the root of their customers’ issues quickly.”

Customers Will Be More Vocal About Their Experiences

We all rubberneck for a bad customer service story, and they’re still spreading like wildfire. With customers’ decreased patience, they need to vent their disappointment somewhere—and that goes way beyond family and friends and spreads to social media. It isn’t a new story here but does emphasize the need for companies to have a strategy to signal to their customers that they are listening to feedback and seeking to improve the customer experience, which leads to the final point that . . .

Service Recovery Will Lead to Powerful Opportunities

I loved seeing this articulated because we’ve all seen it play out. When an organization has a service failure, they have a massive opportunity, and customers won’t hold it against you! Research in the article showed that “97% of consumers across the US and UK saying that if a brand turned a poor experience into a positive one by solving their problems immediately, they would do business with that brand again.” 97% is a HUGE number. I thought people were more inclined to burn bridges, and I’m DELIGHTED to be wrong.

The report ended by underscoring the critical piece that customer service teams play in their organization’s success, and their amazing resilience these past two years. I couldn’t agree more. There are unsung heroes from so many companies. And if you’re reading this and realizing there’s so much potential in your CS teams to unlock and you aren’t sure where to start, please contact us to learn more about adopting a low-effort service strategy.

Amy Smith

Amy Smith is a Vice President at Challenger’s Effortless Experience™ team. In her role, Amy implements several tailored product offerings designed to help companies grow in their journeys to becoming low-effort service organizations.

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