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Agility in Action (1): Make it easy for your customers to help themselves and respond to customer preferences

Zendesk’s CX Trends 2021 Report looked at the data from more than 90,000 companies across 175 countries on the Zendesk platform, including 29,000 businesses in Europe and the UK. In our series ‘Agility in Action’ we analyse the market environment that is shaped by the current, cautious reopening.

Last updated April 16, 2024

In this first part of our ‘Agility in Action’ series we examine two aspects that have emerged from our survey into the latest customer preferences as particularly important to bolster customer service’s agility. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have observed that more customers have preferred to help themselves through self-service options and contact companies through messaging apps.


Investing in self-service automation technologies is especially crucial for start-ups and incumbents. For start-ups to be able to scale and win market share, they aim at rates getting 80-90% of their service automated. This allows them to deliver a fast and excellent service for customers with more complex problems.

Companies in Europe and the UK are adding self-service articles at a 45% faster rate to respond to customers, compared to adding 27% self-service articles at a faster rate to fully resolve customer issues. Interestingly, companies in Europe and the UK are adding the least amount of self-service articles, especially compared to Latin America who are adding on average 23 more articles than European companies. However, during the pandemic, the amount of tickets hasn’t risen as high for organisations in Europe and the UK (+28%) as it has for Latin America (+41%) and other regions. European companies therefore do not need to add as many self-service articles as other markets as they are investing in other ways to provide faster service such as ways to increase agent efficiency, use more blended agents and streamline their workflow.

On the other hand, self-service also benefits customers as it gives them more flexibility to solve their issues. In the UK, the majority of customers under 40 would rather solve their issues by themselves in the first instance. Companies should also ensure that customers can resolve their issues fast, as a slow service strongly impacts customers’ experiences and views on an organisation. Almost half of UK customers switch to another brand after just one bad experience, and 77% after multiple bad experiences.

The Growth of Messaging

The COVID-19 outbreak has also led customers to use messaging apps to contact customer support as it offers more ease, improving their experience. Since the start of the pandemic, tickets through messaging have skyrocketed: there has been a 235% increase in customers using SMS/texting to contact companies in Europe and the UK and a 113% increase on WhatsApp. Data also shows that 61% of UK customers that have previously used messaging channels to communicate with companies plan to keep doing so.

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