What’s the word of the year for customer service?
According to business and CX expert Shep Hyken, it’s empathy.
Hyken has years of experience in customer service and is a popular speaker and author. Like all of us, he saw the dramatic challenges businesses faced in 2020 and the pivots they had to make. Businesses and customers are adjusting to their new way of interacting and facing constant change, especially as we head into the new year.
Here are some of Shep Hyken’s predictions for 2021:
Customers Continue To Get Smarter
Today’s customers know what good customer service is. They experience it every day from companies like Amazon and Zappos and have come to expect and demand it from other businesses. Customers are learning from great companies and want that level of service in all their interactions.
Customers Are Becoming Impatient
Modern customers want what they want now. They’ve gotten used to getting their shipments within hours or overnight and now want everything right away. Companies need to meet that demand with quick service and delivery.
Customers Expect Convenience
Today’s busy customers are willing to pay for convenience. A study by Hyken found that more than 67% of consumers are willing to pay more for a convenient experience, and that number jumps to 90% if that experience includes delivery. Convenience matters and goes a long way with customers, and they are willing to pay for that convenience.
Personalization Is Getting More Personal
Customers want an experience that is unique to them. They want and expect companies to know their preferences and experiences. Some companies are going further with micro-personalization that is tailored to each person’s unique experience with specific product recommendations and preferences, not just general genres.
Companies Are Getting Automation Happy
Companies need a strong digital system to compete and deliver great experiences, but so many companies fall into the trap of relying too heavily on automation and not enough on the human experience. Hyken believes some companies get enamored with technology and use it to replace the human experience, which is a big mistake. The best companies create digital experiences but can seamlessly transition customers to humans if needed. There needs to be a balance between human and digital.
Problems Can Be Predicted
In a perfect world, if a problem can be predicted, it can be solved before the customer even knows about it. The most successful companies are continually looking for potential problems big and small and then proactively solving them before customers even realize they have a problem.
The bottom line of delivering great customer service in 2021 is simply to be nice. Customers expect convenience and personalization, but more than anything they want to interact with individuals and companies who are nice. No matter what happens in the future, kindness will always be on-trend.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.