How COVID-19 Is Reshaping Customer Service
No one was ready for the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic caught entire industries by surprise, and brought the momentum of daily life around the world to a screeching halt. The gears of the global economy simply seized up, leaving countless businesses — and their customers — to fend for themselves. While these businesses scramble to adapt to this “new normal,” many of their customers are becoming increasingly impatient, frustrated, and unhappy. Millions of still-struggling businesses now face a nightmare scenario for their customer relationship management. In essence, COVID-19 is completely reshaping customer service.
In the early days of the pandemic, customers could be understanding — even sympathetic — to shortages, shipping delays, and other common issues. Most people realized that individual customer service reps couldn’t do anything about shuttered factories or closed borders. Contact centers were just like every other business, either scraping by with a skeleton crew or closed entirely. However, as the COVID-19 situation drags on, this abundance of patience is starting to fade. Customers are becoming tired of excuses. They have clients and vendors of their own that need products and services without delay.
In a very real way, COVID-19 is reshaping customer service and now forcing companies to completely rethink their customer relationship strategies. In this post, we’re going to look at a few trends that may soon become the modern standard for customer service.
Cloud-based Business Technology Is Becoming Essential
One of the biggest vulnerabilities of traditional, on-site customer relationship technologies is that they require people to be physically present at the office to use them. Many contact centers are simply upgraded versions of the old call center model, with rows of tightly packed cubicles containing LAN-connected computers to a central customer service database housed in an air-conditioned closet somewhere in the building. That’s not an ideal working situation during a pandemic.
Not surprisingly, many companies are now investing in secure, cloud-based solutions that enable their customer service reps to work from home. These tools are often built on top of highly robust platforms — often customer relationship management (CRM) systems — allowing for a wide variety of customizations and integrations. This allows for increased automation, streamlined customer service workflows, and substantially improved reporting.
These systems also have significantly lower infrastructure costs compared to the older method built around on-site servers. There are less cables to run, less machines to maintain, and there’s no need for a dedicated (and costly) on-staff IT worker to manage everything. Better yet, there’s no single point of failure should something go wrong. It’s automatically backed up on a remote server.
Thus, the customer-service operation is always available when the customers need them. It’s resilient. If there’s a shelter-in-place order in the state or county, or even a COVID-19 outbreak in the office, the business can still respond to customer service calls with minimal disruption. As long as your customer service team has access to the internet, they have everything they need to do their jobs.
While many companies were hesitant to go cloud-based technology route prior to the pandemic, they are seeing how they can manage this safely and efficiently with Single-Sign On and other security protocols.
Remote Work Is Killing the Traditional Office … and That’s Okay
Providing great customer service isn’t easy or cheap. It takes a substantial investment of time and money to train customer service agents. They also need specialized tools and resources to do their jobs, adding further costs. While there are some options for reducing expenses, such as fully automated systems or contracting customer service work, many of these solutions can reduce overall customer satisfaction.
Good news. There is another option: let your customer service staff work from home. Cloud-based solutions have already removed most of the technology bottlenecks. Many customer service workers have gotten used to working from their home offices.
So why spend the money on a physical office space? Remove this one huge expense from the equation, and high-quality customer service becomes much more affordable. Top-notch employees want and need flexibility more now than ever. By giving them this remote option, you are positioning your company to attract the best candidates.
In the COVID-19 era, every dollar your company saves is meaningful. When we think about how the pandemic is reshaping customer service, it extends to our office space and overhead costs for our employees too.
With the right management software, it’s entirely possible to have an all-remote customer service team. Worried about slackers? Don’t be! Many workers actually tend to be more productive when working remotely. You have the software for your team to do their jobs. Then, managers will be able to better track what employees are doing by looking at their output in the system. In office environment, it’s easy for managers to track performance by the hours spent in the office. Technology solutions allow managers can easily pull reports and track productivity based on real data.
Adapting Isn’t Optional
Millions of companies are currently struggling to adapt to this new economic reality. A record number of businesses — well over 100,000 in the U.S. — have closed for good in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. It’s a sad truth, but now is not the time to start losing customers.
To make it through to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s time to think about reshaping customer service. This means investing in the right technology, and embracing cloud-based options that reduce infrastructure costs. It also means minimizing uncertainty by providing your customer service teams with the flexibility to work from home.
Your customers need to know that they can count on you. If they have a problem with something they purchased, they need to trust that your company will fix it. In the COVID-19 era, reliability isn’t optional. To keep those customer relationships strong, your company needs to be ready to respond quickly and professionally.
At FayeBSG, we’ve helped countless companies develop the tools, strategies, and technologies they need for whatever comes next.
To learn how we can help your business, contact us today for a free consultation.
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