As the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt, it’s clear consumers and businesses alike have been impacted in ways we could never have imagined. From the loss of jobs, overnight digital transformation and businesses shutting up bricks and mortar stores, so much has transformed in such a little time.
For businesses, this has meant finding new ways to maintain customer relationships and creating impactful ways to communicate as a means of survival. And alongside the evolving customer expectations, this hasn’t always been easy.
Research has been conducted into how COVID-19 impacted customer service teams across the world.
Since February 2020, customer expectations in Australia and New Zealand increased by close to 60%, yet 54% of customer service leaders reported a decrease in customer service budgets. While expectations increased, budgets were on the decline.
With this in mind, it’s now become integral for businesses to understand what their customers need and execute on this in the most cost-efficient and effective manner.
Let’s understand how consumer expectations have shifted.
Virtual as the new physical
With consumers spending more time indoors, on the hunt for new information and distractions, and longing to remain connected with loved ones, there’s been one trusty companion heavily relied upon the Internet.
NBN’s Australian Broadband Data Demand research found that from the last week of February to April 2020, download peaks in the early evening hours increased by 30% and business hour peaks increased by 21%. It therefore comes as no surprise that businesses must be planning with a digital-first approach front of mind.
This “always-connected” culture has meant that customers proactively engage with brands and expect them to have relevant intelligence about their past behaviour.
Tapping into technology and digital tools is one way to ensure you get the best bang for your buck and ensure teams aren’t overworked. For marketing teams, this means leaving out-of-home advertising for the moment, and focusing efforts on social media.
For sales teams, press pause on the telephone calls, and utilise social media and email newsletters to do the talking as well as making use of smart CRM systems to collate vital information to boost engagement, drive deals and nurture relationships.
For customer service teams, it’s about going one step further in engaging and delighting customers on the platforms that matter most to them: web, mobile and social.
Looking into 2022 and beyond
It’s hard to imagine what beyond 2021 is going to look like and the impact the next generation of digital innovation is going to have. But what we do know is that consumers expect a personalised experience and this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
71 per cent of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal, 70 per cent of millennials are frustrated with brands sending irrelevant emails and 36 per cent of consumers say retailers need to offer more personalised experiences.
However, with hundreds, thousands and millions of customers, it’s now impossible for businesses to recall the individual details of each customer’s preferences. That’s where intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) tools come in handy.
Without systems like Freshworks CRM, businesses can now treat customers as individuals. These systems act as a single source of truth for businesses and provide a 360-degree view of consumers, capturing and combining previous interactions and connections in one place. Without such tools, personalisation is impossible to achieve.
On top of this, artificial intelligence provides a nifty way for businesses to reduce staff workload and prioritise the interactions that require the most immediate attention.
With artificial intelligence automating a lot of the consumer interactions through the likes of chatbots, it means customer service teams can prioritise the tasks that matter the most and the interactions that could make or break the business.
If there was ever a time to adopt AI and chatbots in your business, it really is now.
What does this mean for your business?
With evolving customer expectations and the “always-connected” culture continuing to thrive, technology is truly playing an important role in shaping our future. It’s time to experiment, take a risk and trial new methods of engaging with and delighting customers.
While creating a TikTok dance challenge might not be quite right for your business, truly knowing your customers by tapping into unified CRM tools and making use of artificial intelligence and chatbots, most likely is.
Ultimately, the future is a digital-first approach and putting your customers at the forefront of this has never been so important. As we’ve witnessed, businesses who’ve adapted, adopted technologies and remained laser-focused on their goals have proved there is still a great opportunity to thrive in this climate.
So, what are you waiting for?