The world of work has changed, thanks in no small part to the COVID 19 pandemic, plus continued advancements in technology. Many of us now split our time between the office and home working. Even more of us are seeing bots and machines work alongside us to complete daily tasks.
We’re in an increasingly hybrid work world.
And customer service is a sector no less hit by the changing times. So, as 2021 draws to a close, we cast our view ahead to consider the industry changes to expect in the coming year.
Here are our predictions for the customer service trends for 2022.
The growth of the agent experience
The customer experience has long been — and still is — of major import to businesses. But in 2022, the importance of the agent experience is set to grow with it.
But what is the agent experience? It focuses on:
- • Agent working conditions
- • The support offered to agents by management
- • Agent benefits and compensation
- • The provision of agent tools
- • Flexibility for a good work-life balance
So, rather than being heavy-handed when measuring efficiency, customer service agent well-being will take the spotlight.
This comes as one of the repercussions rippling out from the 2020 pandemic. Agents have proved that they can work from home, and have long-since earned the trust of their managers. Plus, rewarding remote opportunities are on the rise. Agents have more choice than ever to select from roles where they can work from the comfort of their homes rather than the contact centre.
Employers, then, must focus on offering a positive working environment for their customer service agents. In an industry where attrition is high and remote work is on the rise, contact centre managers will turn their attention to the agent experience.
Plus, this attention is also fuelled by the difference your agents can make to the customer service experience. Happy agents equal happy customers.
Customer service is more important as a differentiator than ever
Between supply issues and worker shortages, it’s not always possible to offer fast delivery. Products and services aren’t always readily available at the moment.
This results in the trend that will see customer experience become even more important than before. Where you may struggle to stand out for your stock or your offering, you can stand out for differentiating your service and support from that of competitors. After all, a customer is more likely to be forgiving of a supply shortage if the person helping them is considerate and empathetic.
AI, IoT and other customer service technology
The continued improvement of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will be reflected in another of the customer service trends for 2022.
Chatbots are currently evolving, which means we are set to see newly adept bots in the customer service sector. This bot evolution will take two forms:
- Emotionally equipped bots
- Smarter bots
The work towards better artificial intelligence technology continues apace. As a result, chatbots are getting smarter — they can ‘understand’ more, do more. This means that in customer service, AI chatbots will start to become more popular. (That is, over the tried and tested flow-based chatbots.)
Challenge striking balance between human and machine
This bot advancement leads us to our final prediction. A challenge that customer service practitioners are set to face in 2022 is striking the perfect balance between humans and machines.
Finding this balance has sat on the edge of customer service for a while. Increasingly, technology like chatbots and automation is offering support for customer service roles. And now, AI technologies are only rising and strengthening. They’re finding an ever-bigger foothold in customer service. Man and machine are blending together to help customers more quickly and efficiently.
So, finding this optimal balance – a mix of rapid automation and friendly human help – is one of the key customer service trends for 2022.
The more powerful AI chatbots will be able to handle more requests than ever before. Meanwhile, the humanoid, video chatbot will enable machines to attempt to simulate the human touch.
However, 2022 is not going to see bots and AI sufficiently capable of replacing humans entirely. Hence, there will be a challenge in striking the balance between automated efficiency and human proficiency.
Customer service trends for 2022
The customer service trends for 2022 are closely related to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the business world.
The agent experience will become a new focal point for practitioners. AI technologies will continue to augment the way that we offer service and create customer experiences. And with that will come a greater emphasis on the challenge of striking the balance between manual and automated.
One thing is certain: the hybrid customer service work world is here to stay.