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How to Manage Your Customer Support During These Times

2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and consumers. Managing the fallout from the pandemic while maintaining high service levels has proven a tricky balancing act. While we hoped that the end of the year would bring some relief, it seems that we’re not over the worst yet.

Going forward into 2021, firms must look at ways to manage their customer support more effectively. It seems that traditional support channels are already failing.

Gartner predicts that the situation is becoming critical. So much so in 2021, we can expect 15% of clients to look for third-party help outside the traditional service channels. Gartner goes on to forecast that freelance experts will deal with 75% of client queries by 2025.

Firms that buck this trend by providing outstanding service will set themselves as industry leaders. With that in mind, we’ve created this article to assist you in managing your customer support during these challenging times.

Cut Through the Hype

Source: Gartner

 

According to SupportYourApp, companies have increased their spending on outsourced support over the last year significantly. The firm has seen an uptake in the level of support required by clients and believes that it’s part of the backlash against inefficient AI-based solutions.

While AI-mediated communications seemed to show much promise, the chart from Gartner above indicates that they’ll become obsolete before the demand peaks. For AI to achieve a human-like level of emotional support will take at least five to ten years.

In the interim, firms must provide that support through good, old-fashioned personal service 24/7. Support agents should be:

  • Empathic
  • Pleasant
  • Friendly
  • Efficient
  • Willing to assist
  • Active listeners

Companies may use automation to improve service delivery rather than replace it. Document management software, call monitoring programs, and similar services may help consultants become more efficient.

Contact Centers as a Service

According to Gartner, over the next two to five years, we’ll see contact centers as a service rather than an unnecessary expense. Firms should start viewing the potential to interact with clients at this level as an asset.

Creating a customer engagement hub today is far less expensive than it once was. Firms unable to run a full call center themselves may cost-effectively hire a third-party service. The support company provides the firm with the professional consultants, equipment, and analytics that they require.

Firms may then use the range of data to improve service delivery even further.

Listening to the Client Voice

Going forward, firms must tighten up their offerings and align them with their client’s expectations. Customer support performs a valuable role in this process, as it’s a direct interaction with the consumer.

By actively reviewing calls, firms can pick up on hints that they otherwise might miss. They may then course-correct as necessary. The technique requires more investment on the company’s part but makes the consumer’s role in data collection more passive.

The firm comes across as being in tune with its evolving customer needs by identifying trends early on and adjusting for them.

Offering Omnichannel Support

According to Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service Report, consumers increasingly expect companies to provide them with omnichannel support. The researchers found that telephone support is still the most popular option.

Support Channel Average Percentage Globally
Telephone 35.5%
Live Chat 21%
Email 34.75%
Online Portal 6.75%
Social Media 2%

 

Interestingly enough, American consumers buck the trends here. They also choose to call support above any other method but use live chat almost as much. With the rest of the globe, live chat takes a second seat to email.

Final Notes

Providing service during these challenging times means refocusing on the client and their interests. While automated support has its place, it shouldn’t be seen as the primary focus of an organization. Firms that succeed going forward will see providing one-on-one support as an opportunity for growth and service differentiation.