6 customer support trends you need to know in 2021
Updated: Jan 13
As we get ready to leave 2020 behind, it's beneficial to reflect on a key lesson companies of all sizes learned this year; retaining customers meant embracing more customer-centric and omnichannel strategies. In 2021, we’re seeing several of the same lessons turn into the biggest customer service trends. It’s never too early to get a head start strategizing on how to provide best-in-class service for your customers.
Below are six key trends that will determine your support team's success in 2021.
1. Building teams with support agents who can work remotely
As the world continues to face a global pandemic, remote work gained popularity in companies across the world, spanning dozens of industries. Companies such as Shopify found that agents able to work from home can focus more on their well-being and work responsibilities with less stress, thus improving their performance.
During virtual event: The Future of CX Work, Shopify's Director of Support said the eCommerce company uses several strategies to optimize employee performance ranging from hiring people based on their personalities and tendencies (not their CV) to focusing on agents' mental health.
Building a successful remote team requires support leaders to not only look after agents' wellbeing, but track whether the team can give customers what they need. One way for support leaders to ensure the team provides customers with consistent, valuable experiences is by measuring customer success KPIs. These metrics can fall into categories such as customer experience, agent performance, and business goals.
Measuring these metrics will help support leaders identify those who may need additional guidance working remotely, while simultaneously recognizing opportunities to optimize the customer journey.
2. Using knowledge bases to deflect customer tickets
Customers want quick resolutions and the opportunity to solve simple issues themselves. In a survey by Statista, 88% of U.S. customers stated that they expect brands or organizations to have a self-service support portal.
Self-service portals, or knowledge bases provide SEO-friendly content (such as comprehensive articles, how-to posts and video tutorials) to educate customers about a product or service and allow them to help themselves.
With a robust internal and external knowledge base, customer support agents can find information in less time (leading to faster ticket resolutions) and customers can pinpoint their problem, quickly locate the information they need, and solve the problem themselves.
As more and more companies adopt a self-service approach, companies that provide a fully functioning knowledge base will be able to save time and money on their content, reduce friction in the customer journey, deflect tickets, and increase customer satisfaction.
3. Providing personalized customer experiences
One of the most popular phrases today regarding customer service is to “personalize the customer journey.” Whether this means offering multilingual support options or a seamless online experience, customers should feel as though their journey has been created for their needs.
In 2021 and beyond, personalized customer support is a must for a good customer experience. Here are a few ways to create and foster personalized customer experiences:
Hire agents who display high empathy levels
Use insights to optimize the customer journey and create smoother customer-agent interactions
Provide customer feedback opportunities
Choose a customer support platform that makes customers feel like agents know them and understand their needs
No matter the approach, customers want to feel as though businesses know and understand them as more than a ticket in a queue.
4. Delivering real-time support through live chat and chatbots
As businesses embrace an online support strategy, data shows customers are favorable to channels such as live chat that offer immediate support. In fact, in 2019, the customer satisfaction rate with live chat was 83.04%.
An online, real-time customer service strategy helps companies build trust and genuine customer loyalty, as support teams can provide more personalized assistance as needed. Chatbots also allow businesses key insights into any potential roadblocks customers face.
To gain these insights, support managers can sift through chat history, identify common customer pain points, and address these challenges before customers grow aggravated and churn.
A comprehensive, real-time support approach is essential for satisfying users in 2021. One helpful tip: live chat is a great tool for answering simple questions that can also be found in a knowledge base (as agents can easily search for and send articles), but may not be as ideal for longer conversations.
5. Customer-centric success strategies
Today's customers expect more than basic service—they seek a sense of success and achievement as well. Though once standard for success teams to focus solely on putting out fires, consumers now want agents to understand expectations, maximize value through personalized experiences, and provide a frictionless journey from start to finish.
In order to keep customers happy and excited no matter what difficulties may arise, businesses have looked towards a proactive support model that emphasizes customer centricity.
In practice, this may mean replacing reactive methods with proactive journey touch points (such as onboarding and pre-renewal conversations) or evaluating whether your support strategy reflects an understanding of who your customers are and what they need and want from your business.
6. Mastering social media as a support channel
During the past decade, social media has increasingly gained traction among some of the largest companies in the world as a way to foster customer communication. Social media is no longer a 'nice-to-have' channel, it's an essential tool. Not only should agents use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to communicate with customers, but they should deliver positive resolutions via those platforms as well.
Companies that master social media support will achieve benefits such as greater customer satisfaction, positive word of mouth, and increased retention. In 2021, social media will only become more and more important as a tool to share information, converse with customers, and retain users.
Stay ahead of the curve
Delivering exceptional support carries a different meaning in 2021. Businesses must go above and beyond to retain customers and deliver satisfying support. Use the trends above to help guide your support strategy and keep customers happy well beyond 2021. Looking for more insights on customer support trends?
Download the Top customer support trends of 2021