Get ready for 2023! Set up a customer service strategy that works and saves your costs.
Due to the unstable economic environment, the world is challenged with today, businesses will be looking toward optimizing their operational costs and reducing expenses in 2023.
That will ultimately lead to customer service and support teams being pressured to ‘do more with less’, as customer support is still seen as a cost center by many organizations. Here’s how your business can deliver and maintain a consistently high level of customer service while also reducing your support costs.
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Why excelling at customer service is critical in 2023
Customer service and customer experience continue to be key competitive differentiators for many brands as they are looking to build an efficient service strategy based on top customer service trends of 2023. And whether a company is able to meet, exceed or fall short of customer expectations is often directly tied to its success and long-term profitability.
A recent 2022 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends report revealed that 72% of business leaders say their organization views customer service as a critical business priority, while 73% see a direct link between their customer service and business performance. That said, over 60% of customers claim they now have higher customer service standards, but 54% report that customer service feels like an afterthought for most of the businesses they buy from.
The same survey found that when customer expectations of high-quality service are met, it can help businesses drive more sales:
- 93% will spend more with companies that offer their preferred support channel
- 92% will spend more with companies that ensure they won’t need to repeat information
- 90% will spend more with companies that provide a personalized service experience
- 89% will spend more with companies that allow them to find answers online without having to contact anyone
5 Ways to maintain great customer service at lower costs at 2023
Considering the world’s state of affairs and the shrinking economy, many businesses are currently on the lookout for potential ways to cut down on their customer support costs without compromising on the level of service they deliver to their customers. Let’s go into 5 ways you can provide and maintain excellent customer service and reduce your support expenses at the same time.
1. Get the most out of self-service and AI solutions
Pandemic-driven self-service and AI adoption continue to grow. More businesses will be taking advantage of self-service and AI-powered solutions as consumers are becoming more self-reliant when it comes to handling issues and demanding 24/7 support. Gartner predicts that by 2030, a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots, while the trend of customers relying on virtual personal assistants, chatbots, and other self-service tools will grow over the next 10 years.
If self-service isn’t part of your customer service strategy yet, it might be the right time to expand your customer support options with self-service solutions. Chatbots, AI virtual assistants, voice bots, knowledge bases or self-service community portals – all have the potential to reduce your ticket volume and ultimately costs. Aberdeen actually found that using an online community platform can reduce support costs by 32.9% year-over-year. Another research by Chatbots Magazine also revealed that businesses can decrease service costs by up to 30% by implementing virtual agents and chatbots.
2. Work out the right balance between bots and human support
Despite the growing use of AI in customer service, businesses will need to strike the right balance between AI-driven automation and human support. For basic issues, most consumers would prefer self-service options. However, when facing complicated issues, they would still want to have the ability to talk to a human agent and receive a personalized experience. According to a Forrester survey, 76% of customers want human contact to remain part of customer service, while 63% are happy to be served by a chatbot if there is an option to escalate the conversation to a human.
Apart from investing in automated solutions and AI chatbots, make sure your customer support retains the human element. Even the most advanced chatbots with sophisticated NLP (Natural Language Processing) capabilities would fail when it comes to delivering personalization, empathy, and delightful experiences to customers. That is where genuine human interaction remains a vital component of a positive CX. And Deloitte’s survey proved that delivering positive customer experiences can reduce your cost to serve customers by up to 33%.
3. Leverage the Voice of the Customer (VoC) data
Collecting, analyzing, and leveraging the Voice of the Customer (VoC) data can benefit your organization in multiple ways. Aberdeen Group discovered that effective use of VoC data helps businesses improve engagement, achieve higher retention, grow revenue while also reducing costs. According to the study called ‘The Business Value of Building a Best-in-Class VoC Program’, top-performing VoC users decrease customer service costs by over 20% year-over-year.
There’re many methods of collecting VoC data you can employ at your company. That includes analyzing recorded calls and chatbot transcripts, gathering customer surveys (Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Customer Effort Score Surveys, and Net Promoter Score Surveys), conducting customer interviews, monitoring customer reviews and feedback on third-party websites. Armed with customer insights, you can reveal weak spots in customer experience and proactively address them before they turn into bigger problems, better deliver on customer expectations, and enhance your customer service strategy in a cost-effective way.
4. Shift from a reactive to a proactive customer service approach
The concept of proactive customer service has been gaining increased attention over recent years. Numerous studies have proved that it’s time for businesses to embrace the proactive approach that is highly expected and valued by consumers. A survey by Helplama across the US found that 83% of consumers want a company to contact them proactively regarding product or service issues before they have to make the effort to call or message the company. Out of those who had experienced proactive service, 92% said that it changed their perception of the company in a positive way.
Not only do consumers appreciate companies being proactive in their customer service efforts. It is also an effective way for businesses to actually spend less on customer service by reaching out to customers proactively before they raise tickets or make calls that have associated costs. In fact, over a 12 month period, proactive customer service can lead to a 20-30% reduction in call center calls — lowering call center operating costs by as much as 25%, according to a study by Enkata.
5. Improve agent retention and prevent turnover
A high turnover rate among customer service reps has always been a challenging realm for business owners. E.g., the average call center turnover rate is around 45% – at least twice higher than other departments. Consider that the average company in the US spends around $4,000 and 24 days to hire a new employee, according to Glassdoor. If you’re looking to optimize your service expenses in 2023, your business should focus more on improving agent retention to save on new hires and prevent turnover in the first place.
That can be done through adopting a strong employee-centric organizational culture and the ‘employee first’ approach, offering greater flexibility and empowerment, allowing employees to achieve a better work-life balance and putting more focus on engagement and employee development. That ultimately results in happier and higher performing agents taking better care of your customers as well as reduced attrition and improved retention.
Due to the rough economic climate, many business owners will be looking for ways to reduce their customer service expenses while still maintaining excellent service quality. You can achieve it by:
- leveraging AI and self-service,
- keeping the right balance between automation and human support,
- effectively utilizing the VoC data,
- adopting a more proactive service approach,
- and focusing on agent retention.
All of the mentioned steps help you to reduce customer service costs. Want to know your customers more and serve them better over the next year and years ahead? Start your free Trial of Nicereply today and get a deeper insight into your customers’ needs, perceptions, satisfaction, experience, and desired outcomes. Use that feedback data to enhance your customer service strategy in 2023 and beyond.