In the age of coronavirus, online shopping and ordering has become more normal than shopping in person. Ordering dinner in rather than eating out, buying your clothes online rather than in a store, and booking hair and nail appointments online have all become totally normalized in this crazy time.
For many business owners, this has forced somewhat of a sea change to their daily operations. Many needed to update their websites and ordering systems to match the increased online demand, and thereby decrease their in-person employees and storefronts.
With this in mind, today we will be exploring the topic of customer service. Has customer service lost its gravity, and what does this mean for small businesses in 2021 and beyond?
What elements of customer service have become less important?
It is undeniable that customer service has changed, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also as the generations have gone by. Back in the 20th Century, customer service had a strict code of conduct that was expected across all industries. A company representative wearing formal attire, having polite manners and having a deep wealth of knowledge were all expected by customers, no matter the company size or industry.
Of course, times have changed. While good customer service is still expected in 2021, most companies have a much more relaxed, casual approach to their customers. Company reps treat customers like equals, rather than superiors.
Similarly, there have been huge shifts during the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses closed down, while others had to move online. Face to face contact was basically nonexistent, leaving companies to get across their great sales skills on a digital platform.
Does customer service still matter?
Ultimately, yes. Customer service still matters. Customer service is the backbone of most businesses; with more and more entrepreneurs starting their own companies, it is up to each and every small business to make the effort to be at the top.
Customer service is also a huge industry in itself. You can even outsource your customer experience strategy to a customer experience (cx) optimization company. These companies will cover everything, from customer service, to store ambiance, to online user-friendliness, to helplines, and more!
Here are some customer service tips that still apply today, no matter the state of the pandemic!
1. Eye contact and basic manners.
If you run a business in which you interact face to face with your customers, this is a basic principle that should never be forgotten.
2. Supportive, helpful, friendly communication.
The worst thing you can do as a business is make your customers feel unheard. Being supportive, friendly and helpful – whether this is face to face, on the phone, through a chat function or via email – is an element of customer service that will only improve your customers’ experience.
3. Going the extra mile.
No matter how the world changes, going the extra mile for your customers will always be important in business.
If you are concerned about the meaning of customer service in 2021, use our guide to help you decide what to keep, and what to leave in the past!
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio