COVID-19 has changed many things about the corporate world. The sudden onset of a global pandemic sent a shockwave through the business world that affected those in customer service and support roles.
Of course, the support provided by those in customer service roles is not going anywhere, (arguably, they are now more important than ever), but the changes to the business landscape give pause for the future format of customer service roles and how businesses will effectively engage with their customers as the world settles into this “new normal”.
A positive customer experience is no longer defined by a single interaction with a customer service team member; it is defined by how a company engages with its customers on a large scale and in the long term
Will Customer Service Roles Change?
Today, we see many businesses take an approach to customer service that embraces technology as much as it does customer intimacy. Companies that implemented web-based chat programs, ABM marketing tactics, ramped up their video library, opened a customer service channel on their social media accounts, and/or transitioned to an account-based support structure saw benefits that were two-fold: on an individual level, these organizations were able to continue delivering a positive customer experience with little interruption, and on a macro-level, the overall response to building out their communication channels sent the message to their customers that they were valued.
The big take-away with integrating technology into your client support structure is that the quality of your customer service is no longer relegated to a single interaction, but, rather, the cumulative experience from multiple touchpoints with your business. It's about the overall experience, and it’s important to remember that a customer’s “journey” begins before a customer has ever spoken to a member of your customer service team. If your call center wait times are long, if your website is difficult to navigate and/or if confirmation emails are not set up within your support ticket system, this can negatively impact how an individual recalls their experience with your business.
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The reliance on technology to provide a positive customer experience will continue to trend in its current direction. For businesses looking to incorporate more digital-based support services, it is important to keep in mind the following factors greatly influence a customer’s experience with your customer support team:
- Response times
- Accessibility to a member of your staff
- User experience on your company website
- Knowledge of account history
Has the Ideal Candidate Skill Set Changed?
There are several soft skills found in all customer service professionals that are essential for success in a client-facing role. Things like strong verbal skills and a high level of empathy will always be necessary.
However, as technology is used more and more to bridge the gaps of physical distance, customer service professionals with a digital background are quickly finding themselves in high demand.
For example, in the high-volume world of call centers, professionals with high WPM typing abilities and experience working with softphones are coveted because that format demands proficiency in notetaking, triage, and ability to pick up a conversation where their colleague may have left off, without skipping a beat.
Outside of call centers, customer service professionals who possess experience with ERPs, video conferencing software, softphones, remote desktop sharing software, etc. are also growing in demand.
Does Face-To-Face Experience Matter?
Absolutely! Even in 2020 when most businesses have continued to operate remotely, there are certain client service positions that cannot translate to a digital format. For example, positions like service technician or an employee who works for an essential business needs to maintain a level of in-person customer skills.
If your business has pivoted to a remote workspace, the use of video call software to engage with customers also requires your CSRs to be proficient with face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, many of the skills needed in these types of conversations translate well to phone conversations as well – a communication tool that is here to stay in the world of customer service.
In 2020, a positive customer experience is no longer defined by a single interaction with a customer service team member; it is defined by how a company engages with its customers on a large scale and in the long term. As such, a business that wishes to deliver a positive customer experience must rethink the types of positions that fall under the purview of customer service as well as the skills required to better support their customers in a socially distanced world.