2021 and 2022 were fraught with unprecedented challenges. From an impromptu shift to working remotely to an uptick in inbound volumes, customer care teams were on the frontlines of work disruption this year. This year has presented many new challenges in customer service.
Table of contents
- High inbound call volume
- Slow response rates & long wait times
- Broken feedback loops
- Changing circumstances
- Learn to see customer service challenges as opportunities
- LiveVox can help you meet the moment and improve customer service
As with most other industries, COVID-19 threw a real wrench in the gears. But in many ways, the challenges that customer care centers faced during the pandemic weren’t new but just intensified by COVID-19. The volume that inbound call centers were tasked with fielding exploded by about 16%, as did the number of service tickets. These volume increases compounded challenges, like response time and the need for feedback, that are regularly faced by customer care centers.
Here we examine some of the top challenges for customer service as well as the opportunities that adapting to them can bring in 2022.
High inbound call volume
COVID-19 forced millions of people to stay at home. This stay at home orders affected the volume of calls in two ways.
- Customers no longer had the option to visit brick and mortar fronts. Their questions, complaints and feedback now had to be routed through the contact center. Every reason a customer could possibly have to contact you was now the responsibility of your customer care center.
- Customers began to have more time on their hands. All those projects and tasks they had been putting off now came to the forefront. Maybe they had been meaning to update their information on their AAA card, or maybe they had put off taking out a loan to do some major home improvements. Whatever it was, it needed to be done right now.
As a result, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) had a bit of a resurgence in its importance, especially ones equipped with intelligent conversational capability and virtual agents. Conversational IVR is a powerful tool when it comes to managing high inbound call volume because it helps customer care centers serve more customers at once more efficiently. Conversational IVR systems allow you to gather information about your customers before they are routed to a human agent. This speeds up the process by allowing agents to have the necessary information about the nature of the call before their conversation with the customer even begins.
Advanced IVR systems can also allow customers to complete mundane tasks such as filling out forms, changing contact information, or even making payments. This reduces the amount of tasks agents have to complete for each customer.
Going into 2022, customer care centers have an opportunity to provide greater self-service options. Giving your customers options and encouraging self-sufficiency gives you the agility to handle the unexpected.
Slow response rates & long wait times
The volume a customer care center receives and its response time are directly proportional. As volume increases, so does response time, so this challenge was a foregone conclusion in the wake of the pandemic.
This long response time is due in part to staffing issues related to working from home and onsite closures, call routing inefficiencies, and simply not being equipped to handle the number of service requests coming in.
COVID-19 fallout caused heavy traffic on all routes of the customer service journey. Digital channels like SMS and webchat saw a huge increase in activity. In fact, our own April SMS Survey Report found that digital channel usage was expected to increase by 78% by 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
Many activities and events that were supposed to happen, didn’t’. Plans had to be canceled or changed. Not only did the number of customers needing service increase, so did the urgency.
Broken feedback loops
One of the keys to providing great customer service is feedback. Learning from your customers where you excelled and even more importantly where you fell short is an integral part of the customer experience. Improving customer service can not be done without knowing what needs fixing.
But, amidst the high call volumes and service tickets, where does feedback fit in when things are changing so quickly?
Around 23% of customer service teams reported that CSAT scores declined during the pandemic.
The customer care center is faced with the challenge of ever-changing circumstances even when it’s not a moment of global crisis. In order to consistently provide excellent customer service, customer care teams must react quickly to these changes. Making your contact center more agile with automation is the best strategy for embracing our new normal. About 42% of teams who automated some of their service workflows this year were more likely to hit their goals. Employing automation may seem daunting but the rewards for great customer care are loyalty, repeat business, and higher revenue.
Going into 2022 we predict we’ll see more investment in behind-the-scenes areas like agent experience, AI, and workflow automation in response to the challenges of the pandemic.
Learn to see customer service challenges as opportunities
Customers expect an omnichannel experience
Understanding customer expectations has always been key to serving them effectively. If customers didn’t already expect an omnichannel support experience before the pandemic, they most certainly do now. Customers want to be able to use alternative channels to get in touch with you, especially if one of them has a long wait time. Providing an omnichannel experience makes for a more seamless and less frustrating customer journey, which will aid in getting those CSAT scores back up to (or above) pre-pandemic levels.
Remote agents have become more widespread
The technology that allows agents to work from home has been available for many years, but organizations have been resistant to adopting it. For many of them, though, the pandemic forced their hand and they’ve come to accept and even appreciate remote work. The right technology empowers agents with the tools they need to solve customer issues from anywhere and gives management the oversight needed to troubleshoot even when they’re not in the same location.
Bots and AI tools can supplement humans
One upside of the spike in call volume during the pandemic is that customers have grown more comfortable turning to digital tools like chatbots to resolve their issues. This coupled with the growing adoption of AI means agents are getting continuously better and faster at tackling customer service challenges. Organizations that embrace AI tools to complement their human agents will reap the benefits of reduced wait times and more satisfied customers.
Data drives customer service decisions
The availability of fully integrated CRM, omnichannel and WFO platforms gives organizations an unprecedented level of data to work with. This data can be leveraged to find new ways to reduce customer issues, gather customer feedback and boost customer engagement. If there’s one recurring theme to watch for, it’s the focus on the customer. Businesses that adopt a customer-first mindset and support it with the right tools will see corresponding results in their satisfaction scores and on their balance sheets.
LiveVox can help you meet the moment and improve customer service
The only constant in this new and evolving business landscape is change. Leaders that want to stay ahead of the curve must adapt their understanding of how important service is to the modern customer experience–and to the performance of the business as a whole. Set your organization up to thrive in a post-pandemic world with the help of LiveVox.
LiveVox is an all-in-one contact center platform built for the companies of the future. With an unrelenting focus on improving the customer experience, LiveVox powers faster, more effective, and more personalized interactions that support your business objectives. Our platform is built for the way agents actually work, and we’re constantly optimizing it to better meet the needs of our clients and their customers.
By marrying customer conversations, CRM, and WFO capabilities, we make interacting with customers seamless and intuitive. A comprehensive suite of built-in risk mitigation tools helps you manage consent while keeping you in compliance with industry standards like PCI-DSS, CTIA, TCPA, and more. Request a demo of the LiveVox or chat with one of our representatives to learn more by getting in touch today.
Customer Service & Call Center FAQs
The top challenges in customer service and call centers include slow response rates, long wait times, broken feedback loops, and an ever changing customer service environment.