In the year of the pandemic the customer service has changed under the force of four carriers, between them correlate: new standards have been established, the need to look inside the company has grown to apply the model of service to other areas, has been demanded greater

The summary is offered to us by Alessandro Catalano, Regional Sales Director of Salesforce Service Cloud in relation to the fourth edition of the State of Service, report realized by Salesforce interviewing in the world (also in Italy) 7 thousand call cent professionals

State of Service The State of Service survey analysed the responses of over 7,000 customer service agents, decision makers, workers and supervisors in 33 countries, 300 of which in Italy.

Saying that new standards have been established underlying the fact that we are all customers, explains Catalano, in a scenario where at the level of efficiency the reference point is Amazon: ♪In the absence of physical touch points we turned to The customer service has become the human point of reference, the brand ambassador for customers. In this sense, companies that have invested in empathic training are those that have best performed in terms of turnover.

Greater empathy requires agility: without the availability of all information in a single list, in a console, you are not agile. To do this, it uses artificial intelligence to support operators, which automates repetitive activities, i.e. all manuals that are automated, so that the operator can dedicate himself to building the human relationship.

Investment in the telephone channel has been made, which has grown because the problems difficult to solve have multiplied. •Integrating the voice channel with the digital channel • explains Catalano • allows, with artificial intelligence, to fill out fields and shorten the time of problem resolution • • • •

For example, the fashion brand Brunello Cucinelli, has focused on the development of direct communication channels with customers, to accentuate the role of customer care as ambassador of the brand.

This is why since 2020 the customer service operator’s average time is no longer measured, but the degree of loyalty of a contact.

As a summary of Catalan’s thinking, those who deal with customer service are trying to significantly transform their business, accelerating digital transformation and reviewing resource management strategies.

Pandemic and customer service

The Salesforce State of Service survey reveals that 83% of customers expect to get in touch with an operator immediately when they contact a company and 82% of them to solve complex problems by talking to a person. However, providing quality and fast service at the same time is not always easy. Less than a third (29%) of the customer service professionals say that their organization excels in response times. Even fewer (26%) vote for case management times, first contact resolutions (22%) and waiting times (20%).

L’88% of the customer service professionals say that the pandemic has highlighted the technological gaps of their structures. L Customer service teams have also found inadequate links to the moment we are living. For example, 87% realised that existing policies and protocols, such as cancellation costs for events prohibited by public health measures, were not appropriate to current circumstances.

In the face of these challenges, companies are preparing and developing improvements and evolutions to look beyond the crisis, such as changing their policies to provide greater flexibility (83% in the world and 82% in Italy) and adopting new technologies (78% in the EU) and

Digital transformation for customers and employees

The digital transformation of customer service goes beyond the simple use of digital channels. Automation is also increasing: in two years, the adoption of artificial intelligence and chatbot solutions increased by 32% and 67%.

Customer service professionals recognise the key role that digital channels play in improving the support provided: 81% of service team managers say that digital initiatives are accelerating. Self-service modes such as knowledge-base database, community and chatbot provide customers with the information they need quickly. At the same time, 77% of customer service staff say that automation of routine activities (e.g. updating payment methods or resetting passwords) allows them to focus on more complex jobs. 78% of professionals in the industry say that consumers have increased the use of self-service aid during the pandemic and 66% say that self-service practices reduce the volume of calls.

Involvement of the labour force

77% of employees say that their role is more strategic than two years ago (in 2018 the percentage was 71%). For this reason, care providers are increasingly positive about the importance of their role. 67% of the employees ( 57% in Italy) see a clear career path (in 2018 it was 59%),. This coincides with an increase in punctual training, from 54% in 2018 to 61% in 2020. Although product knowledge and digital literacy are essential, cross-cutting skills such as communication, listening and adaptability are also considered important as customer service professionals can expand their knowledge.

The shift to remote work for customer service teams has not affected productivity. The majority (72%, 76% in Italy) of the assistance workers say they have all the tools and technologies necessary to operate remotely. However, since 54% of organisations have seen an increase in the volume of cases, many have asked for external aid (42%, 57% in Italy) or have resorted to employees from other departments (62%). Only 25% of the care professionals say that their organisations excel in the distance training of employees and even less (19%) say the same for their ability to hire these employees.

Training and skills

The role of a customer service officer, especially during crises, cannot be limited to closing tickets. Today, employees should be informed, have advisory skills and, above all, empathetic to the unique needs and circumstances of the customers they interface with. A mix of hard and soft skills → Communication, listening and product knowledge → are the most requested.

L’86% of Italian managers say they make significant investments in the training of their employees. Despite the low budgets, customer service organisations generally continue to invest in training programmes and infrastructure, with a particularly significant increase in the share of teams with access to training on demand (61%).

Field assistance

Three quarters of the decision makers of the field assistance, maintenance, continue to increase their turnover and almost seven out of ten (69%) continue to make significant investments through additional recruitment, training, and technological investments. In Italy, 78% of decision-makers argue that maintenance service remains a fundamental part of their overall strategy and a similar percentage, 75% confirms that it is fundamental to generate revenue for their company

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