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5 Customer Service Trends for 2021

by Katie Joll · Updated Feb 15 2021

In the world of help desk software, we always want to stay on top of what’s happening in customer service.

How are expectations evolving and how might help desks or service desks rise to meet them? We’ve been through a lot of upheaval worldwide over the last year, but with many more people relying on online-based services, you could argue that the role of the help desk is more important than ever.

Some new behaviors have been adopted and some trends have continued to grow as their usefulness became more important. With this in mind, here are some customer service trends to be aware of in 2021:

How can help desks incorporate customer success more? Download here

#1. Chatbots are becoming essential

Were your ticket volumes up last year? Many companies reported higher than usual volumes, which is largely being attributed to heightened use of IT services during the pandemic. In many cases, the ticket volumes have created challenges in terms of meeting SLAs. Higher than usual response times have been common as service desks often don’t have the agents needed to cope with higher volumes.

It’s situations like these that are making chatbots indispensable to help desks. The right chatbots can essentially deflect ticket volumes away from agents to walk users through solutions on their own. The best chatbots have robust third party integrations and some form of AI/NLP solution. Above all, they need to give users a valuable, useful experience.

If you want to see a good example of the style of chatbot and self-service support that IT services could add value with, check out Dyson’s troubleshooting service. It takes customers through a step-by-step process, making suggestions for them to try solving their problem on their own. Only if the suggestions don’t work does it suggest they complete a ticket request.

#2. Agent wellness gets priority

It’s actually kind of weird to many of us why agent wellness might not have been a priority before. The issue of agent turnover is a constant challenge among help desks and has been highlighted further over the pandemic. There are clear links between agent wellness and job satisfaction, and agent turnover.

Fonolo published an opinion on the effects of the pandemic on agents from industry analyst Kate Nasser:

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has challenged contact centers in ways that other crises have not. Contact center agents had to up their listening and their empathy beyond what they had ever faced before.

COVID-19 tasked the agents to sustain others while they were likely worried about their own safety and families. All those who have suffered personal losses may find themselves questioning if they want to stay in the contact center industry.”

The world of customer service is often high-stress even outside of a pandemic, so it’s understandable that the circumstances of the last year might have led some agents to re-evaluate. Agent morale may have taken a beating, but there are ways companies can better support those on the support desk.

One good place to start is to take a serious look at shift schedules to ensure agents are getting sufficient breaks. Agent burnout is real, so it’s important to mitigate the conditions that can lead to it.

Agent wellness is a priority help desks are highlighting this year.

#3. Improved “mobile first” help

While mobile was already a large and growing channel, time spent on stay-at-home orders during the pandemic has seen mobile usage jump considerably. The average US adult is spending 23 additional minutes per day on their mobile, with many clocking hours of mobile time per day.

Globally, more people have access to mobile than other types of devices. It is expected that 3.8 billion people will own smartphones in 2021 and around 66% of the global population will have access.

This makes good mobile solutions a must for many help desks. Users may be choosing mobile-first as their preference - it’s important to check your data and find out!

How can you be ready? To start, your website and any portals used to get help should be optimized for mobile. Self-service options should be easily accessible and clear to use. You might even consider mobile messaging apps as part of the help desk. For example, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger can be used, even with chatbots. Many industry insiders are predicting service via chat will be huge for 2021.

#4. Work models may change (again)

Are you one of the many help desks that went from co-located to completely remote in 2020? For many, this was a massive shift in their work models and routines, and there have been mixed reactions to the changes.

Almost a year later, many are still completely remote and missing the face-to-face interactions with their colleagues. In some areas, businesses are starting to open their offices back up, although many companies also acknowledge that they found some advantages to having employees work from home.

The latest CX Mandate Report found that 65% of global customer service leaders believe that remote or hybrid work models will be the way moving forward. A hybrid model means that employees can work from home AND have days in the office. Different teams have different ways of handling this: some are creating a roster where people have certain days of the week at the office, while others are allowing more personal choice (if people prefer to work from home, perhaps they can continue doing so).

The key to managing it all will be technology. What will make your team just as effective whether they have an office or an at-home day? How will you keep them reliably connected and able to keep up with your SLAs? A good investment is technology that is just as remote-ready as it is for work in the office. Cloud-based technology remains supreme here, which is why the tech-stack you have in place warrants careful consideration.

#5. Customer success will be a service goal

You can offer the best customer service, but that doesn’t mean the customer will remain loyal to your brand. That’s because it’s about more than getting good service to the customer - they want to see a direct correlation with achieving their goals, or their definition of “success.”

Customer success is a term that SaaS companies have been big on for years. It means that the customer is gaining perceived value from your product or service. They’re achieving something meaningful, which will have a positive impact on their brand loyalty.

The help desk or service desk is in a prime position to influence customer success. If we were to define how, it would be that the help desk could take a more proactive approach when helping customers, where traditionally they might have been more reactive.

This would involve solving the problem the customer came with early and well, but at the same time making sure they’re set up to continue to their goal. No one wants to be submitting another ticket in an hour! It may mean the agent needs to take a slightly deeper dive into the user profile and ask a couple more questions, however, customer success helps to demonstrate the overall value of the help desk, too.

Download here: Tips to involve the service desk in customer success

Final thoughts

These are five of the trends that we’re noticing for customer service teams in 2021. With so much in flux at the moment, it’s difficult to make predictions! However, we’re sure that anything that backs up remote work and mobile operation will be huge.

With that said, the world of help desks and customer service is evolving constantly. Keep up with what’s going on here and of course, use a good help desk software to stay on top. Find out more about JitBit here.