How to put customer service first in uncertain times

By Matthias Goehler, EMEA Chief Technology Officer

Published May 9, 2022
Last updated May 9, 2022

We wanted 2022 to be the year of pandemic recovery. Instead, it’s become a year of high prices, uncertainty, and further disruption. There’s a lot for both businesses and consumers to contend with against a background of war, inflation and Covid-19 fluctuations.

One thing we learned from the pandemic is that businesses have to adapt quickly in crisis. In some cases, where businesses couldn’t move quickly enough, customers had to put up with substandard customer service. The difference now is that customers aren’t willing to put up with bad experiences any longer. Almost half of European consumers say they have higher customer service expectations than before the pandemic started, according to recent research.

What’s more, 4 out of 5 consumers say they would spend more with businesses that can give them a personalised experience. Companies that connect their service with the digital purchase experience can open up new growth opportunities.

Build around your customers

Customers have a more nuanced view of good customer service than you might expect. It’s not just about how quickly a service agent can respond to a query. The quality of the service matters too. However, to look beyond speed as the only important factor and to deepen relationships with customers requires more insightful interactions. Each communication must build on previous ones and each interaction must be looked at as a chance to learn more about your customer base.

Messaging channels are a good way for this to take place. They allow for a better quality of service and help to deepen customer relationships in a responsive way. A brand that has done this well is the online travel agency Klook. The company focused more on its messaging channels and help centre during the pandemic to give customers always-on, open-ended support. At the same time, Klook also started to offer more staycation options, which showed agility and a desire to maintain customer relationships in a changing environment.

The pandemic isn’t the only driver of change at present. But we can learn from the past two years to gain a better understanding of how businesses can grow in uncertain times – and use customer service as a tool to facilitate that growth.

Get ready for growth

Although many businesses are now starting to appreciate the importance of customer service, they might not have a clear strategy in mind when it comes to making improvements. Here are three ways to use service to boost business performance:

Look at the bigger picture – The world of customer service is bigger than your CSAT score. By widening your scope to focus on metrics such as customer retention and loyalty, you can easily see the correlation between customer service and the bottom line. Find out exactly what your customer wants and you can empower agents to upsell and cross-sell, while delivering great service at the same time.

Get leadership involved – Only a fifth (20%) of business leaders report viewing customer service metrics daily. That can be problematic. Companies could be missing a trick if they don’t see CX as a priority, particularly when there are growth opportunities to be had. Customer enquiries can be a helpful tool for businesses to receive feedback on their services and products in real time. But without C-suite involvement, those insights won’t result in positive action quickly enough.

Equip your agents – Everyone wants their business to offer the very best service possible. The only problem is many agents are too bogged down by heavy workloads and inefficient processes to make the time to get better. Businesses can lighten that load by automating repetitive tasks. This will give workers the time to engage in training programmes that businesses should also roll out. Yes, it’s an investment, but it’s one that will ultimately pay off because good service generates revenue.

Businesses are on a rocky road so far in 2022. But one thing they can bank on is the continuing importance of the customer experience. Get it right and it can produce positive outcomes, despite the turbulence.

2022: The year of customer service-led growth

Invest in CX to grow your bottom line and secure leadership backing

2022: The year of customer service-led growth

Invest in CX to grow your bottom line and secure leadership backing

Read more