As we head into 2022, one major area of focus for small business owners will be – customer service trends in the coming year.
The pandemic has had a major impact on small business customer service trends and strategies. Businesses across industries had to rework their customer services strategy from the 2nd half of 2020 and in 2021. For one, the space for social commerce, and in particular, Live Chat, grew and brands renewed their customer service efforts on social.
According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives – executives in the survey said that their companies had speeded up the digitization plans for customer and supply-chain interactions as well as plans for their internal operations by 3-4 years. The survey also said that the companies had accelerated and expanded their portfolio of digital or digitally enabled products by 7 years.
Regular in-store shopping took a hit – but as economies across the globe slowly limped back to normalcy, some of the changes that emerged during the pandemic continue to shape customer expectations.
So what does the future hold?
Continue reading to learn more about the expected customer service trends that will dominate 2022.
Top 4 Customer Service Trends to watch out for in 2022
Customer expectations continue to influence how brands strategize their customer service – this has been true for some years now and it will continue even in the New Year and beyond.
With that in mind, here are some of the top customer service trends that will dominate 2022.
- The Era of Digital Customer Service is Here to Stay
While the space for digital customer service has been steadily growing, the pandemic pushed the move into full gear. Customers have moved dramatically towards online channels.
And as mentioned above, in the McKinsey Global Survey of executives, companies are increasingly moving towards expanding their digital portfolio and are also looking at quickly digitizing their customer and supply-chain interactions.
Live Chat adoption is also growing among brands. Brands that made the shift experienced the benefits of Live Chat in delivering an omnichannel customer engagement to their customers.
Chatbots can help businesses save on customer service costs by responding to nearly 80% of routine customer queries.
The advancements in the field of AI have helped drive chatbot adoption. And the reason is obvious – as mentioned above, chatbots can manage up to 80% of all customer inquiries. What this means is that customer service reps will be able to respond much faster to customer inquiries. More importantly, it frees up customer service reps to quickly address more complex and pressing customer issues.
This can dramatically drive customer service engagement levels for businesses.
Immersive tech adoption, by way of extended reality (XR) technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), will make it easier for brands to provide their customers with experiences that are more engaging and immersive.
The tech-savvy generations, in particular, expect more immersive brand experiences over material gratification. And this is where XR tech can make a big difference by offering engaging brand interactions both online and offline.
3. Continued Focus on Offering Personalized Customer Experiences
Customers are increasingly looking for brand experiences that display authenticity and are organic. This is especially true for Gen Ys and Gen Zs – these demographics shun direct and in-your-face marketing and advertising.
In the coming years, including in the immediate future, personalization and meaningful brand connections will matter more than ever.
It’s important to note here that “instant gratification” drives customer expectations today. So customers expect meaningful and authentic brand connections to happen organically and quickly – or rather in their exact moment of need. And the time and space for brands to deliver on this expectation last only for a very short duration. With younger demographics, this duration can be just a matter of seconds. Google calls these little widows of brand engagement opportunities “micro-moments.”
Businesses that leverage these “micro-moments” will reap huge customer engagement benefits.
4. Increased Dependence on Customized Subscription-based Business Models
A recurring revenue source for businesses can be a boon in these pandemic-driven uncertain times. How economies will change and how these changes will impact business revenue is still hard to predict given the fluid nature of the pandemic.
For this reason, instead of solely depending on the “moment of need” purchasing decision of customers, businesses will move towards customized subscription-based business models that offer regular revenue generation. This is a trend that will continue to pick up steam in 2022.
In fact, since 2014, the subscription-based business model has grown by more than 350%.
According to Dr. Carl Gold, Chief Data Scientist at Zuora – “The Subscription Economy is not limited to one or two industries. We’re now seeing sectors far and wide placing subscriptions, over pure-play products, at the center of their businesses to achieve rapid and sustained long-term growth. The SEI report showcases the transition to subscriptions beyond the boundaries of traditional SaaS organizations into the Manufacturing and Business Services sectors, exposing the phenomenal value of the subscription business model in today’s digital age.”
Brands that can successfully expand their products and services within a subscription-based business model will not only benefit from a recurrent revenue source, but they will also find it easier to build on their customer engagement and delight customers.
By signing up for a subscription program, customers will be able to receive a product or service regularly thereby benefiting from auto-renewals. In addition, for the customer, this is a time-saver and they can be assured of a regular supply of routinely used necessary products or services.
It all bottles down to offering continued customer value – and the subscription-based business model achieves exactly that for businesses.
Customer expectations are driving business customer service and marketing decisions today. And increasingly customers expect brands to deliver personalized interactions that align with their needs. While the quality of products and services matter absolutely, customers also expect brands to prioritize customer service experiences across multiple brand touch-points. This in particular is true of Gen Ys and Gen Zs. These demographics as mentioned above seek authenticity in brand engagement channels and experiences.
Businesses across industries will have to relook their customer service priorities and strategies if they want to continue to stay relevant among target customer pools.
Customer service in 2022 will be more about providing meaningful brand experiences and meeting customer expectations within the digital ecosystem as well as offline.