Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst and Ian Jacobs, Principal Analyst
2020 was eventful for customer service professionals, to say the least. Customer service teams faced a massive, almost overnight shift to remote operations and enormous increases in self-service and digital interactions.
On the consumer front, the pandemic pushed many US adults to connect with brands through digital touchpoints in new ways and at a higher volume. Fourteen percent of US adults paid bills and banked online for the first time, 21% ordered groceries online for the first time, and 17% ordered from a restaurant online for the first time.
As those two trends collided, companies invested in asynchronous customer service solutions like chatbots and messaging apps. However, this did not stem the tide of customer service call volume. As digital channels sorted out route requests (e.g., changing an address), live agents took on more complicated calls that required more know-how and people skills. Customers looked to agents for consultative information to help them navigate the pandemic. For example, how do you refinance your mortgage during the pandemic?
This dynamic will persist post-pandemic. Customers will gain increasing confidence with digital channels, and customer service agents will get more complex calls. Agents will become more critical to nurturing and growing existing customer relationships, and call centers will become a treasure trove of customer insight. The result: Agents’ work will become more important to the business’s overall customer experience strategy.
Smart companies will leverage customer service’s newly elevated position while continuing to grow, evaluate, and refine their digital strategy.