CX trends to deepen customer relations
Colin Crowley, CX Advisor at Freshworks

A view on tech that brands will likely leverage for better customer experience

As we ready ourselves to get into the last quarter of the year, this is the right time for companies to both reflect on the current year as well as to start preparing for the year ahead. The year ahead will see more and more brands leverage certain technology tools for deepening customer relationships and improving customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. Here are three key trends likely to help agents and keep customers delighted:

1. 2022 will be the ‘return to human’ as we hit the chatbot ceiling. 

As the pandemic pushed business online overnight, companies quickly scaled automation and self-service technology like chatbots and FAQs to deflect and resolve customer issues. Brands have reported a 7% increase in CSAT scores as a result of successful bot implementations.

However, brands are realizing just how hard it is to reach and engage with customers across any channel—and that customer service interactions offer a golden opportunity to not only resolve customer problems but also foster a delightful exchange that deepens relationships and loyalty. Southeast Asia’s leading fashion and lifestyle retailer Zalora, managed to do just this. By increasing automation and providing customer service agents more context, Zalora has seen a significant reduction in abandoned carts. What made the difference was the ability to use automation to guide the customer journey and arms agents with both relevant information and the time to focus on the individual shopper’s issues.   Up to 75 percent of their customers became repeat shoppers as well, further proving how customer service interactions can positively influence a brand’s relationship with its consumers.

 Look for more and more companies to rethink customer service as a branding opportunity in 2022. While chatbots are definitely an exceptional tool that powers customer service, companies are getting better at understanding when and where to purposefully use humans in place of bots to exceed delight with the human touch.

2. Companies will apply the oxygen mask principle by putting customer service agents first in the war to retain customers. Employees are in no place to take care of customers if they themselves are not taken care of.

With the Great Resignation making it harder to staff customer service roles, companies will spend more time investing in the agent experience. Prior to the pandemic, customer service positions already had a high turnover rate – according to Harvard Business Review, the average call center turnover rate is as high as 45%— but rising expectations and limitations over the last two years have put more pressure on customer support employees. This investment will help reduce burnout and retain agents, all while enabling agents to handle more customers with less stress. Better agent experience is correlated to higher CSATs and vice versa. In fact, Freshworks research reveals that just 100 extra monthly tickets per agent can lead to a 1% drop in customer satisfaction scores.

Technology can play a key role here, as efficiency features like AI-based ticket classification, automatic routing of incoming customer contacts to the right agent, and increasingly complex agent-assist technologies, which provide real-time conversational guidance to agents, can save agents up to 1.2 hours a day.  

3. WhatsApp will eat the world.

With all the hubbub over multichannel interactions with companies, it’s time to declare a few winners who are standing out. The biggest surprise for global brands will be WhatsApp. 68% of WhatsApp users report it’s the most convenient way to engage with brands. The rise of WhatsApp follows a larger global trend that shows messaging channels (Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messaging, etc.) dominate and result in high CSAT rates due to speed, convenience, and affordability. This is especially true in Southeast Asia where consumers are moving towards being mobile-first. Despite the growing number of messaging apps available to customers in the region, WhatsApp has a high usage rate. GWI, an audience targeting agency, declared WhatsApp the top platform in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, among other countries, in its Social Media Report for 2021.

In the Philippines, convenience store chain 7-Eleven found the rise of social media led to high demand for support requests on the same channels. The helpdesk solution 7-Eleven adopted enabled them to consolidate all of their customer support into one platform. This platform is intuitive for their agents and helped them automate over 100,000 requests in 2020.  The resulting improved customer experience has helped 7-Eleven in the Philippines retain and grow its customer base. In 2022, the adoption of these technologies will enable businesses to greatly enhance and personalise their customer experience, while reducing the stress on customer service agents. Happy customers and happy agents mean better business.