Coronavirus has taken us by surprise and has definitely changed the rules of the game. However, as quarantines around the world are coming to an end, we ask ourselves: How will the new normal be? And how will it affect the customer experience post-coronavirus?
In this article, we answer these questions and break down what’s crucial for CX leaders to think about in order to redefine a post-coronavirus strategy.
The impact of COVID-19 on customer service
With the spread of coronavirus, the world we knew stopped existing from one week to the next.
An economy of isolation replaced a collaborative one, and customer priorities and expectations completely changed. Today more than ever, they expect omnichannel solutions, empathy, self-service and resolution, all at once.
With this situation, companies and their customer service teams were also affected. First of all, they had to move to remote work because of the quarantine. And second, they’ve seen an unprecedented level of demand, plus constant changes in customer support volume.
In fact, as we already mentioned in our latest whitepaper, there was a 51% increase in the number of conversations with companies and customers in March, compared to February.
What did companies do to ensure continuity of operations during this time? Among other strategies, they used cloud-based technology, moved to digital channels, implemented automated tools like chatbots and self-service tools, and constantly evaluated the experience they offered.
This no doubt set the stage for the new normal after coronavirus.
Strategies to implement in the post-COVID world
We’re still experiencing the first shock from the crisis. We’re coming across companies that are changing their strategy to address the problems they faced during the pandemic.
But the virus and quarantine aren’t going to disappear without leaving an impact on society, including the customer service sector.
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We’ll soon be in a second wave of changes, characterized by companies making profound, structural and long-term transformations to their strategy in order to adapt to this new reality.
As we begin to get out of this emergency and start the new decade all over again, what are some of the big transformations we need to explore so our CX strategy adapts to the new world? Let’s look at some upcoming trends.
AI and humans: from division to collaboration
In a post-COVID world, these tools will be a key partner in helping companies and people form lasting connections. These are some of the smart technologies available today that are already complementing human work:
- Chatbots and conversational flows: The pandemic has shaped a consumer that wants immediacy, self-service and less bureaucratic hassle. That’s why chatbots will continue strengthening their presence in the market, solving problems immediately and continuously.
- Agent empowerment: AI in customer service has such potential to enhance employee capabilities. This includes things like letting the technology learn from your best agents, providing customer history, and using AI tools to suggest answers to questions.
- Automatic learning and predictive technology: Data allows for real-time reporting and statistics. Combined with a deep analytics tool, customer service departments can then better understand how good their service is, and how consumers are currently engaging with their brand.
Asynchronous conversations: prioritizing customers’ time
Consumers don’t want their time dictated or determined by anyone except themselves. If the issue isn’t extremely urgent, they’d rather send a chat message to an agent and carry on with other things.
Asynchronous communication doesn’t require both parties to be present and speaking at the same time. It allows for conversations that can be started, paused and resumed (from the same channel or a different one) around a customer’s life.
When using them, companies have three benefits: providing 24/7 service with a limited team; less investment in their own channels; and offering flexibility to service teams during peak demand.
Experiences that adapt to customers
Providing a good experience doesn’t cut it anymore. Today more than ever, companies need to understand and adapt to their customers. This is done by understanding and responding to their present and future expectations.
What does this mean? Solving problems instantly, offering an omnichannel solution and personalizing the experience based on a deep understanding of customers’ preferences and needs.
More integrations and more collaboration
The 2010s were all about automating processes and integrating more tools and solutions to make life easier. But as a result, the data they collected ended up divided in silos.
As a result, companies relied on human operations to make sure there was a universal vision and that all data was linked.
So after coronavirus, more and more companies are focusing on a solution or channel that can collaborate smoothly with the existing ones when deciding to buy new technologies or adding new channels.
Security and compliance are non-negotiable
As there’s an increase in personalization, data usage initiatives, remote work, and new international privacy regulations, there’s a renewed focus on CX compliance and security.
Data privacy regulations, encryption of sensitive data, restricted user access, and authentication are some of the terms CX leaders will need to get used to for years to come.
According to an Adobe report, 32% of consumers own a smart speaker and 44% of them access their voice assistant daily.
In 2020, we’ll see more brands exploring and experimenting with this kind of application throughout the customer journey, like voice-based chatbots for phone support, voice messages in text-based chats that help explain complex inquiries, and many others.
Customers as the responsibility of the entire company
The days of the customer service department being solely responsible for CX are coming to an end. Pressure is now on the entire company; customer experience has become a universal responsibility. This creates new challenges including empowering employees to do what’s best for the customer, decentralizing communications, and rewarding those who challenge the status quo.
Customer Experirence post-coronavirus: Next steps
No doubt the customer experience post-coronavirus will be different. The industry is currently facing an unprecedented challenge.
And remember there’s a free download for the full report “Strategies for Navigating 2020: The post-coronavirus customer experience”. It contains detailed and thorough information on what you need to know in order to outline your next CX strategies.