Consumers are shopping again after an enforced period of calm during the Covid pandemic. This is positive news. Everyone wants to see a recovery in progress, but we have learned lessons during this pandemic about how customer experience (CX) strategies can be more flexible. Customers have also changed their own expectations and are now demanding that brands interact on new channels with different services.
A lot has changed in the past couple of years so we can’t just expect CX in 2022 to reflect 2019 - there is no return to life immediately before the pandemic. Here are my thoughts on the key areas where we should be thinking about a CX evolution right now:
- Hiring: contact center agents have usually been hired for their communication abilities and ability to think on their feet when handling a customer. This remains important, but I think we are going to see a lot more focus on hiring people with specialist skills into contact centers - like fashion influencers helping customers of fashion brands or gadget experts to support phone or tech companies. We need more strategic sourcing of recruits and better screening/testing to find people with the skills that specific clients need - and with work-from-home options, we can now cast the net wider and recruit from almost anywhere.
- Blended CX: using a core team based in a contact center gives the ability to build a team culture, but augmenting the bricks and mortar team with agents based at home allows the option to hire from anywhere - focusing on more specific skills as mentioned in the previous point. Hybrid working options also allow employees more flexibility in their job, making the work itself more attractive and therefore making it easier to find talent.
- Training: hybrid working arrangements can be applied to processes such as training and onboarding too. Avatars can be used as trainers instead of in-person trainers in a physical contact center. This makes training faster, easier, and offers the ability to locate the trainers from anywhere.
- Quality: CX quality is becoming even more important than ever because customer expectations have been heightened during the pandemic. They want more channels, more availability, and more expertise - if you don’t step up and deliver, it will be perceived as a dramatic drop in quality.
- Channels: brands need to be open to additional channels that were maybe seen as niche in 2019 but are becoming more important now. Video chat is a good example. Can e-commerce providers make online shopping feel more like an in-store experience by offering personal video service? WhatsApp has exploded in popularity and has largely replaced traditional SMS in many markets. Even Facebook Messenger has become an important communication channel because of how tightly it can be integrated with social media browsing.
The reality is that the pandemic has changed customer expectations and the ability of CX specialists to deliver great service. It’s now possible to deliver more flexible work-from-home solutions securely and to reap important benefits like hiring team members from anywhere.
CX leaders need to take a long look at where they are today. Returning to the CX that was common in 2019 isn’t going to be a strategy for the 2020s. Think about these five key points immediately, because the world has changed a lot in just two years.
Published first on LinkedIn by Katrin Langley, March 2022.