Digital transformation is vital for boosting customer service, report suggests

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Salesforce has released new research showing that following the chaos caused to businesses due to the pandemic, ecommerce services are seeing a major transformation.

The company's fourth State of Service research report studied over 7,000 individuals from 33 different countries, ranging from customer service agents and decision makers through to mobile workers and dispatchers. The findings revealed that the pandemic has really exposed customer service shortcomings, with 80% of service professionals stating that COVID-19 flagged up glaring gaps in the technology being used.

The survey found that 86% of those questioned reported that working remotely had initially left many service channel gaps. Some 87% of those questioned from service teams said that certain procedures, such as cancellation fees for events that were prohibited during lockdown, were also no longer fit for purpose.

As a result the report found that businesses have been making changes to the way they operate, with 83% of service organizations having changed their policies to accommodate ever-changing circumstances caused by the pandemic. In addition, 78% of those surveyed stated that there has also been investment in new technology to help tackle the fallout from the pandemic.

Digital transition

“Leaders are taking this time to rethink the value of experiences and reimagine engagement with customers and employees alike,” said Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. ”It’s not just about technology. Sometimes technology is at its best when invisible. We’re going to see significantly more agile, innovative, and relevant organizations emerge from this crisis that provide modern and sought-after experiences that change the game for everyone.”

Research clearly shows that customers are continuing to shift to digital, with six out of ten interactions with companies predicted to occur online during 2021. That’s up by 42% compared to 2019. Customer support is being forced to adapt quickly, with video support proving to be the biggest area of growth, also up by 42% since 2018.

Live chat is increasingly popular too, up 35%, as well as messenger apps that include WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which have seen usage increase by 29%. Meanwhile, in-person services offered by companies has dropped by 16%. Service teams are also making more use of digital technology to improve performance, with 32% increasing their use of artificial intelligence since 2018 and 67% adopting chatbots during the same period.

Salesforce data underlines the fact that the trend for being based at home is not about to go away. Over half (54%) of global customer service professionals worked from home during 2020. Only 43% of those surveyed expected to return to their place of work in 2021.

The findings also suggest that this has not impacted productivity. In fact, 72% of service agents said they had all the tools and technology at their disposal to work remotely. However, those questioned seemed unanimous in underlining the need for adequate ongoing training due to the evolving needs of customers and their frequently changing circumstances.

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.