We look at the customer service landscape in 2022, and pinpoint a few of the key trends you need to know about.
But first, we must bring to light some notable stats from the 2021 South African Digital Customer Experience Report (download the PDF).
The primary standout from this year’s data, is the staggering amount of money retailers are leaving on the table. Better experiences would encourage 96% of respondents to purchase more. They’d also go a long way to curbing the high levels of cart abandonment that are a consistent feature of e-tailing. Combined, poor performance in these two areas could account for in excess of R30bn in lost sales - a figure more or less equal to South Africa’s current eCommerce market. Extrapolating these numbers on South Africa’s most recently reported online spend of R30bn1 suggests that if online stores were to fix key issues they’d potentially generate an additional R11.95bn in revenue.
Across the board, niggles remain in a number of areas - the cost and availability of speedy delivery remains a key gripe for consumers. Brand trust is perhaps more important than ever, while areas such as site speed and customer service continue to impact people’s willingness to part with cash.
South African consumers have clearly embraced eCommerce, says Julia Ahlfeldt. “With improved levels of connectivity and an abundance of online shopping options, there’s no good reason why South Africa should still lag behind. Customer experience is holding it back.”
With that being said, let's look at some of the key trends to look out for in customer service in 2022.
Integrated customer service
In the same way that many purchase journeys take place across multiple platforms and devices, so too do many customer service queries. The more complex the issue, the more likely it is there will be multiple contact points with your customer service team and multiple platforms and devices involved. Being able to aggregate customer service conversations into a single dashboard is the key to providing a smooth, omnichannel customer service experience. CM.com’s Mobile Service Cloud delivers a cross-platform interface to enable you to continue the conversation, regardless of how your customer contacts you - whether that be WhatsApp, Email, Instagram Messaging or more.
Consumers are becoming more and more familiar with chatbots and, consequently, more comfortable interacting with them. Scripted chatbots, whilst effective in some circumstances, are less useful when you’re dealing with a broad range of queries. An AI chatbot, on the other hand, can use machine learning to understand the correct response to particular queries and conduct its own search of your website, for example, to find the answer to questions not already in its database. Customers expect to be able to get the answer to their query quickly and an AI chatbot can get up-to-speed with your business more quickly than a new agent and can also provide customisable out-of-hours support. In 2022, if you can’t give consumers the answer they need quickly, expect them to go elsewhere.
Hybrid customer service
Getting the right mix between technology and human interaction is a delicate balancing act, but customers expect to be able to switch seamlessly between artificial and human interactions when required. In 2022, with so many technology options available to customer support teams, ensuring that you don’t go too far down the automation route at the expense of customer experience will be the difference between creating advocates and enemies.
Combining the power of a chatbot with the familiarity of voice, voicebots offer speed, personalisation and convenience for the customer, and can field simple queries before handing off to an agent should things become more complex. Ultimately, voicebots can quickly triage incoming calls to ensure your agents are dealing with the most complex queries in an efficient manner, saving them the time and effort of dealing with a conversation that’s better suited to a voicebot. Download our guide to customer service voicebots to find out more about how they can make your customer service more effective.
Customer service from home
With the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to recede, customer support teams, just like many of the rest of us, won’t relish the idea of returning to the office. Having proven – after some false starts – that customer support can be delivered remotely, many agents and companies will be keen to continue the trend. Key to this will be the ability to monitor conversations effectively and respond across platform and device, and to manage inter-departmental and inter-agent conversations effectively using a tool such as CM.com’s Agent Inbox, part of Mobile Service Cloud. This has the potential to revolutionise the experience of customer service agents and provide effective remote customer support for consumers.
Real-time and 24/7 support
Customer expectations are sky high and will only increase as more brands begin to offer automated out-of-hours and instant customer service. Being available quickly and, crucially, when your customer wants to talk to you is more important than ever. Chatbots and voicebots – combined with an omnichannel customer support dashboard that lets you see conversations that begin and end on different platforms and devices – will offer a solution to weary customer support teams who have plenty to deal with within office hours alone.
Hyper-personalised customer support
Knowing who your customer is, their previous order history, and perhaps some of their personal details before they tell you can make customers feel valued. Dealing with your customers as individuals and delivering a bespoke customer experience increases the likelihood they will share their positive experience and become an advocate for your brand. In 2022, having a data solution that allows for this level of personalisation will become more crucial than ever, as customers continue to expect brands to interact with them digitally. The excuses afforded by the pandemic won’t wash in 2022.
Increasingly consumers are getting used to solving their issues with no human contact whatsoever. Given the desire to free up customer service for complex queries that require a human touch, self-service is an obvious choice.
Building a knowledge base for customers allows them to find the answers to their questions without needing to interact with any kind of human or AI interface. CM.com’s Conversational AI Cloud includes support for building your own knowledge base, allowing your customers to self-serve and freeing up your customer service team’s time.
CM.com’s Mobile Service Cloud and Conversational AI Cloud have been designed from the ground up to help you provide exceptional service to your customers. With an integrated CDP, chatbots, voicebots, and a powerful omnichannel messaging dashboard, these solutions will help you supercharge your customer interactions.