69% of customer experience professionals surveyed feel end user expectations have increased since February 2020, as COVID-19 continues to cause mass disruption to plans and activities, forcing people to seek out support and advice. This is one of the key findings from Freshworks Inc.’s latest Customer Experience Mandate research that looked at how the pandemic has impacted customer experience and services this year.
The results show that customer service departments have come under increasing pressure since the start of February as their teams – many of whom suddenly found themselves having to work remotely – had to handle a huge influx in enquiries from their customers. It’s not just customer support teams in the UK that saw these results, as the survey showed that many businesses across the world were similarly affected by the pandemic. EU respondents registered a 57% increase in customer expectations.
With 77% of respondents also seeing an increase in overall contact volume, the results of the research highlight the need for customer service teams to be able to work with high numbers of inbound queries and adapt to changing external events, while still being able to deliver on quality customer service.
“COVID-19 has completely upended how we live, work and play, and customer service teams have been particularly affected,” said Simon Johnson, General Manager, UK&I, Freshworks. “Agility and the ability to switch up business operations rapidly have really been the divider between business that have performed well and those that have struggled. At the heart of this agility is the degree to which technology has been leveraged and customer support is no different.”
To help cope with the added pressures of the pandemic, half (50%) of the respondents in the UK have relied on collaboration tools into their business to provide better communication and deliver the experience that their customers expect. 47% of respondents have used live chat functionality (including chat bot software, like that offered by Crisp) and 45% believe a cloud-hosted customer service software is critical in helping to maintain service levels during the crisis. The results paint a clear picture of the role technology can play within customer service operations to help cope with the increased demand from end users.
Since February, respondents saw a 90% increase on both social media and live chat channels. This demonstrates that while traditional methods of customer contact, such as phone (86%) and email (89%), still receive the bulk of customer traffic, newer methods of contact are becoming increasingly common as more customers look to reach out for support and solve their issues quickly. Businesses should be mindful of this as they look to open up new channels for their customers to engage with them on, in a way that suits the customer first.
“It is not surprising that we saw an increase in social media channels as a method of communication. With the ‘always-on’ nature of social media, customer services need to be able to match this capacity as consumers want to reach out any time on their preferred channel of communication,” Johnson concluded.