12 Jan 2023 Customer Service Trends: What the Data and the Pros Have to Say
The new year brings new trends besides inflation, staffing issues and severe weather. The contact center and customer support industry continue to evolve. Data and customer service professionals have insight into 2023 customer service trends and the reasons behind them.
Bringing the Store Experience to the Customer
Ty Givens, a 20+ year customer experience solutions pro, sees this as one of the biggest trends for 2023:
“As we continue to move into this hybrid work environment where people are working from anywhere. It’s become easy to connect with co-workers with the click of a button on-screen, and businesses will need to introduce that same flexibility for their customers. This year is all about bringing the in-store experience home.”– Ty Givens, Founder and CEO, CX Collective
From 2019 to 2021 the number of people working from home tripled according to the US Census Bureau. Data projections show that remote work will continue to grow in 2023. Employees still prefer blending work from home (WFH) with in-person work. Similarly, customers became acclimated to digital buying options during the pandemic. Customers returned to in-store shopping, but still expect to have those digital options available. Plus they want the experience to be satisfying.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index May 2022 release, customer satisfaction hit the greatest low in 17 years. Ouch.
Forrester’s research concurs. Their US 2022 Customer Experience Index showed that 19% of brands lost CX quality. That’s the largest brand percentage drop in a single year in the history of the survey.
Why? One thought is businesses stopped updating digital channels because customers returned to stores. The online experience that kept businesses afloat during the pandemic is being ignored. An, “It’s over now, let’s go back to the way things were,” mentality. Indeed, the Forrester data indicates that CX has fallen back to pre 2020 levels. The improvements seen in 2021 are gone.
Others point to inflation, staffing shortages, and supply problems. These challenges are real, but so are the results of bad CX. Zendesk 2022 research shows that over 60% of customers will leave a brand after a single negative experience. That is 22% higher than the previous year.
“The most effective way to keep customers around is not by wowing them with free things or extravagant discounts, but by just making things easy and seamless for them when they need to get in touch with you. That means meeting your customers where and how it’s convenient for them. Like on any channel they want to reach you, whether that’s email, voice, messaging, social channels, text or live chat.”– Adrian McDermott, Chief Technology Officer, Zendesk
Prioritizing Agent Recognition
The fallout from the Great Resignation is still making waves in the contact center world. Businesses are waking up to valuing agents and improving the agent experience.
Five9’s 2022 International Customer Service Index (CSI) Business Decision Makers Survey shows 90% of business decision makers across 17 industries in the US, Europe and Canada are targeting agent/employee experience. They recognize the impact agent well being has on their business. They need skilled, empathetic agents more than ever, as 86% report an increase in call volumes.
Shep Hyken echoes this in his predictions for 2023. He suggests thinking of the customer service department as a “revenue generation department”.
“A problem handled well gives the customer confidence to want to come back. When they do, they spend more. Eventually, they may even become loyal. As companies realize this, they will start investing more into the department and process traditionally known as customer support.”– Shep Hyken, Shepard Presentations
Increased Focus on Digital/Non-voice Channels
Non-voice channels are projected to continue to grow in 2023. Five9’s report indicates surges in usage of these channels with 91% of those surveyed indicating increases in email, chat and messaging, with 69% believing over 40% of interactions to be fully self-service by 2024.
The Salesforce State of Service report, 5th edition, reveals similar results. Text/SMS, mobile app, forums and video support show the greatest gains in usage from 2020 to 2022 with increases of 6% to 20%. Automation helps manage this increased volume. Solutions like CSAT.AI provide automated QA and CSAT for these channels that are becoming preferred retail platforms.
In the US the average time per day in non-voice activities on mobile devices has steadily increased from 2019 to 2022, and is expected to continue to grow in 2023. According to Pew Research, over 75% of US Shoppers have bought items via their mobile phone. That percentage is even higher in the 18-49 demographic. It makes sense for those consumers to prefer using text/sms and social platforms to contact a brand over logging into a site or calling customer service.
The data and the pros have spoken. The game is always changing. The key is to be prepared for the changes, not playing catch up. Have the 2023 customer service trends taken you by surprise, or have you prepared for them?