Customer Success in 2022:
Business Challenges and Solutions in the new reality
Customer Success and Service is one of the areas that underwent big changes through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mass unemployment, social distancing measures, community lockdowns, and the rise of hybrid work setups — businesses are met with reasons to evolve the customer experience in every corner.
We asked businesses to share their biggest pains and adjustments in their customer success operations amidst the pandemic.
Let’s take a look at the data.
What are the biggest challenges in CX amidst the pandemic?
When companies first made changes to their customer service operations, no one expected the implications to be long-term. Coming into 2022, business leaders view the following as the biggest challenges they had to overcome.
74.7% of businesses received more complaints in their customer service due to connection losses.
19.3% reported that their customer service operations weren’t significantly affected, while the remaining 5.9% actually saw improvements.
Out of all businesses that reported increased complaints, 54% pointed to service reps working from home as the key issue.
Customer expectations rising
79% of businesses struggled to manage the rising expectations of customers, particularly in terms of digital transformation.
Data collected from customer satisfaction surveys revealed that roughly 67% of customers expected new service and product offerings more frequently.
75% of customers also demanded drastic improvements to companies’ user engagement methods within unrealistic time frames. 62% responded positively to the use of AI and automations to better the customer experience.
Zooming from home hurts CX design
76% of businesses reported that the lack of in-person meetings bogged down their ability to create and optimize memorable experiences for their customers. 54% of these businesses also stated that employee productivity was down by almost 50%.
On the other hand, 21% of businesses said that their team’s effectiveness and productivity were unaffected. The remaining 7% stated that productivity was increased since the pandemic office restrictions were set.
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet were the top three most popular online meeting platforms, with 89.8% of all respondents using at least one of them. The rest used any of the following:
- Skype for Businesses
- Cisco Webex Meetings
- Zoho Meetings
Streamlining the online checkout experience
74% of businesses with physical stores had trouble adjusting their digital storefront and checkout experience with 80% of their customer base now shopping online. Prior to the pandemic, these businesses reported that only 30% of their customers shopped through their online channels.
On the contrary, only 11% of online-first businesses needed significant optimizations to the checkout and after-sales experiences.
69% of businesses received a sudden influx of complaints regarding the responsiveness of their website and online customer service channels.
When contacting a virtual customer service representative, customers only waited an average of 5 minutes and 36 seconds before dropping the line. For customers using live chat support, the average waiting time was only 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
Optimizing for different devices
67% of businesses received more complaints about their mobile website in recent years. 56% of those with a mobile app had difficulties optimizing the user experience across multiple devices.
On the other hand, 29% of businesses didn’t notice even an uptick in customer complaints.
Interestingly, only 37% of businesses reported a measurable increase in complaints regarding their desktop sites.
Shipping and returns
Logistics needed exhaustive optimization to combat short-term disruptions and long-term structural changes.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 63% of businesses started relying more on third-party delivery services to handle returns and shipping. Only 29% of these businesses reported frequent issues with their delivery service provider.
- Lack of personalization in support channels
- Customer service outsourcing
- Inadequate staff training
- Communication issues from managers to remote workers
- Employee well-being
What are businesses doing?
Despite the setbacks, many businesses are winning the customer service game through decisive reactions, quick innovations, and resilience.
Below are the known strategies that worked well for businesses in the new COVID reality.
Letting AI take the helm
82% of businesses bounced back from the decline in customer satisfaction by using AI and proactively tracking real-time signals and analyzing customer behavior patterns. This enabled them to be actually a step ahead of the customer in understanding sentiment, predicting loyalty, and providing support on a personal level.
In addition to learning customer behavior patterns, some of the other common ways businesses use AI for customer service include:
- Maximizing response times
- Providing action suggestions to agents
- Automating resolution of common problems
- Capturing and processing gigabytes of customer data
- Streamlining automations and integrations with other CRM systems
Automated Meeting Intelligence
As businesses have roughly 70% more virtual meetings per day, more and more of them implement Meeting Intelligence systems. These are designed to automate crucial tasks, like capturing key conversations, predicting customer commitment levels, generating meeting summaries, and more.
Meeting Intelligence software can also be used to generate recommended action plans for agents by analyzing conversations with customers. For manual actions, some platforms automatically capture clip recordings from meetings, which can be reviewed and shared with team members.
Outsourcing and partnerships
56% of businesses have expanded their partnerships to quickly and adequately fill capability gaps in the customer service area. Some businesses leverage partnerships and outsourcing as means to reduce costs and lower risks.
A common example would be the outsourcing of customer service agents to meet the increased number of requests from customers stuck at home.
Among businesses that successfully utilize expanded partnerships amidst the pandemic, 89% consistently monitor the performance of their partners. 92% also have well-defined goals, while 84% have a clear and streamlined onboarding process for integrated partners.
Authentic employee experiences
Businesses agree that employees are at their best when they feel social cohesion and purpose.
72% of businesses use frequent video conferencing to keep remote teams motivated and energized, maximizing organization-wide performance. 44% launched virtual events focusing on employee appreciation, often coming with contests and award programs.
Top-performing businesses also use the following strategies to keep their remote workforce motivated:
- Using visual collaboration tools like Kanban boards and project management systems
- Weekly huddles
- Prioritizing employee mental well-being
- Offering team-focused mentorship programs
Social listening and selling
86% of businesses grew their online presence across more than one social media network between 2020 and 2022. 48% of those businesses invested in social listening tools to connect with potential leads and stay on top of conversations surrounding their brand.
Social media listening works by actively detecting brand mentions on websites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This gives businesses the opportunity to preemptively reach out to prospects, correct spreading misinformation, or answer queries regarding their products or services.
51% of businesses also started offering their services on social media marketplaces, but only 36% of those businesses had their sales expectations met.
Test and learn new technologies
Almost 98% of businesses agree that adopting new technologies is the key to surviving the new COVID reality. However, only 47% of all respondents believed they were learning enough to meet their goals for 2022.
According to the top-performing businesses, introducing technologies one at a time followed by a period of testing and optimizations is the best approach.
Robots take over frontline tasks
Finally, a handful of businesses began exploring the use of robots for frontline tasks as a way to ease staffing shortages and elevate the customer experience in 2022. While only 6% of survey respondents had tangible plans for robots in the near future, dozens of big-name businesses already made strides with the concept.
Some examples include:
- Throughout 2021, 29,000 robots were acquired by North American companies for frontline tasks
- Walmart using delivery drones developed by Zipline for their on-demand delivery service
- McDonald’s developing an AI-powered voice system for drive-thrus with IBM
- White Castle deploys robot cook to prepare fries and burgers
Here is a snapshot to help summarize our key findings from this survey:
Key Takeaways: How to Optimize Customer Experience in 2022
Here are the key takeaways from the survey results:
- 98% of businesses believe that new technologies are the key to customer service success in the new COVID reality
- 86% of businesses use AI to improve customer experience despite ongoing workforce issues
- With 70% more virtual meetings per day, businesses resort to Meeting Intelligence systems to automate crucial but time-consuming tasks
- 92% of businesses that successfully outsource their customer service have well-defined goals, while 89% consistently monitor performance
- 86% of companies expanded their social media reach across multiple social networks
Overall, most businesses are optimistic about the state of customer success and experiences in 2022.
The majority of roadblocks that plagued businesses in 2020-2021 already have tried-and-tested solutions, often times banking on digital transformation and technology adoption. Moving into 2022, businesses should stay open to new technologies and strategies to level up the customer experience.
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