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Identifying Customer Service Trends in 2021

13th October 2021  by Lydia Joyce

Written by Samantha Dennahy, Product Owner

At Union Street, we take pride in understanding the trends of the market in which we operate and getting to the heart of what our resellers want and need from us as a partner. Over the last 18 months we have seen a rapid change and evolution in the way we work. There are several key emerging customer service trends that we’re seeing play a big role in shaping what our resellers need from us and how they want to use our software.  Researching B2B customer service trends, we found the following four key topics came up time and time again:

  • Customer experience as a differentiator
  • Self-service
  • Digital channels of communication
  • Proactive service

In this article we will explore each of these topics in more detail, so read on to learn more.  We hope you’ll find some useful insights to re-enforce, or inform, your customer service strategy going forward.

 

Customer Experience as a Differentiator

 

With pricing becoming increasingly regulated in our industry and moving more towards unlimited packages, resellers are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors.  One such way is through customer experience, which it seems is becoming more of an important factor for customers when choosing a supplier.

 

In KPMG’s 2020 customer experience report, they state they  are “seeing a shift towards ‘buying into’ companies rather than simply ‘buying from’ them”.

Salesforce also support this, reporting that, “Historically, customers have expected basics like quality service and fair pricing — but modern customers have much higher expectations, such as proactive service, personalized interactions, and connected experiences across digital channels.”

KPMG talk about the Six Pillars of experience excellence which is a set of qualities that 11 years of their research shows are in every outstanding customer relationship.  They are:


Source: KPMG B2B Customer Experience Report

Not only is good quality customer experience helping to win new business, it’s a driving force in keeping your customers loyal and keeping them with you.  With Ofcom’s recent drive to make switching providers easier and quicker, it’s more important than ever to find new ways to keep hold of your customers.

Forrester report that “emotions drive behaviour”, so it’s important to build an emotional connection with your customers to drive their loyalty to you, as “Brands need to understand the behaviours, needs, and motivations of their loyal customers so that they can earn more.”

 

Self-Service

 

The consumerisation of B2B customer service means that end customers are demanding more from their reseller.  They want fast turnarounds, more ways of communicating, and they want to be able to do more for themselves.  This is helpful to resellers because if done right, you can increase your Net Promotor Score and drive customer loyalty whilst also reducing your overall cost of service.

“Resolution in self-service is a win-win for customers and for companies” – Gartner


Source: The 2019 Gartner Customer Service and Support Leader Poll

In an article published earlier this year, Super Office say that “Self-service is no longer a “nice to have”.  It’s a necessity to providing a positive customer experience.”  They back this up with the following statistics:

  • 40% of consumers now prefer self-service over human contact.
  • 75% of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.

We are also seeing evidence of this from within our own reseller base, who have reported they’re getting increasing pressure from their customers to provide more ways for them to help themselves rather than having to call or email the reseller.

Resellers are looking for tools which can be provided to the end customer, putting information directly into their hands and empowering their self-service experience.  These tools put the end customer in greater control of their own services and options.  They can make it easy for end customers to interact with their reseller at the right time and in the most appropriate way, making sure they always have the best customer experience.

 

Digital Channels of Communication

 

The last 18 months have seen a huge push towards digital channels of communication.  Online connectivity is better than ever before and 50% of the web traffic worldwide now comes from a mobile device.  The way we work has changed drastically and resellers need to be able to respond to that in the way in which customers are cared for. Your customers want to be able to work anytime, anywhere, from any device, and they’ll be demanding from you the appropriate tools to do that.

 

Online portals, mobile apps and APIs are an essential toolkit to give resellers the ability to more effectively and efficiently connect with your end customers.

In an article titled ‘Why digital customer service is important to the growth of your business’, Acquire state that “The more digital the journey, the higher the customer satisfaction.”

Super Office asked organisations about the business decision to implement a digital transformation strategy, and found that almost 50% of respondents cited customer experience and customer satisfaction as their leading influences.  For those companies that did transform digitally, they are experiencing an increase in engagement, loyalty and conversions.

 

Proactive Service

 

Embracing digital channels of communication opens up new and exciting ways to interact with your end customer.  It also enables a different approach to customer service and a move from being reactive, to adopting a proactive customer service model, which Gartner picks out as one of the 4 key priorities for customer service in 2021.

Mobile apps specifically have a lot to offer in the way of proactive service.  Leveraging mobile device capabilities leads to an enhanced, more convenient user experience.  Mobile apps also offer the unique ability to send instant, non-intrusive and personal notifications to users.

According to Business of Apps, sending customised or “dynamic” notifications to users had a positive impact on engagement, open-rate, and conversion rates.  In their 2020 customer service report, KPMG report that Personalisation is the strongest pillar in driving customer loyalty in 19 of the 27 markets.

“Proactive service results in significantly better customer experience outcomes, such as lower effort and higher satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and perceptions of product value.” – Gartner

A proactive customer service can make all the difference to the way you are perceived by your end customers.  It will inform how a customer feels about you as a partner, rather than just a supplier.  We discussed earlier that emotions drive behaviour and the importance of customer loyalty; proactive service can be a great way of securing and solidifying this with your end customers.

Proactive service puts you back in control and allows you to decide what you share with your customers and how, rather than being reactive to questions and concerns coming in from your customers.  It stands to reason then, that this approach can also help you to realise support cost benefits as you mitigate support queries coming into your teams.

 

Final Word

 

We really hope that you found this article useful and that you find a few points to take away and put into practice within your business.  It’s quite plain to see that good quality customer service, delivered in the right way at the right time, is key to winning the hearts and minds of your customers for the long term.

To support our findings, we would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to fill out our very short survey to find out your own experience with regards to self-service demands for your customers.

 

If you’d like to discuss any of the themes covered within this article, or to hear ways that Union Street can help you to meet these emerging customer service trends, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we would be more than happy to help.

 

References

The following links will take you to publications which informed the content of this article.  They are all a really interesting follow-up read if there are specific themes or topics you’re interested to learn more about.

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