Article | 5 min read

Good-enough service isn’t good enough: 3 strategies to remain competitive

The 2022 CX Accelerator report results are in: progress is stalling—even leading customer service organizations are struggling to meet SLAs and baseline customer expectations.

By Jeff Titterton, Chief Operating Officer, Zendesk

Published September 6, 2022
Last updated September 16, 2022

Given the current volatile and uncertain market conditions, it’s difficult to push for growth and investment in the customer experience (CX). The temptation to maintain the status quo is strong.

But don’t do it.

The service landscape may be stark, but we can’t stop making CX a priority and investing in areas where the impact can influence business growth. This is a critical time to focus on sustaining and engaging relationship-driven conversations and continuing to build exceptional experiences.

These insights aren’t mine alone. They’re drawn from the 2022 CX Accelerator report, which includes insights from nearly 5,000 customer service decision-makers around the world. Our survey uncovered a lot of the challenges we’re all facing. It also revealed the strategies that leading CX organizations are using right now to maintain high service standards, create meaningful experiences, cultivate customer loyalty, and stand apart from competitors.

Key insights

Key insights, magnifying glass

Leaders were unequivocal about the challenges we’re all facing—as well as the importance of the customer service organization:

  • 64% of companies say that customer service has a direct impact on their business performance
  • 60% said customer service impacts customer retention
  • 49% said that customer service impacts cross-sell revenues

Survey respondents also report a real shift since 2021:

  • 66% of companies reported that customers are less patient when interacting with agents or service teams
  • Companies are 18% more likely to report that customer satisfaction is somewhat or significantly below expectations
  • Even the category of “CX Champions” report unresolved queries are up 157% year over year

CX Accelerator report

Uncover personalized findings and action items for your business.

Investing in CX is an opportunity to grow

Opportunity to grow, holding plant

Customer expectations continue to grow, raising the stakes for business. But this is also raising the potential rewards of ‘delivering the wow’ to create lifelong customers. While the companies we surveyed were in different maturity phases of their CX transformation and path to growth, three clear areas of investment stood out.

1. Balance your human and automation strategy

Can humans and bots work together? Absolutely, and this approach is preferred by most. A balanced support strategy places customers in control of how and when they want to interact with your business—whether it’s through a conversation with a live agent or an interaction with an automated bot.

While chatbots and AI appear to be the wave of the future, our research shows that delivering on this strategy can be a challenge. Leaders need to understand the right roles for chatbots, how to collaborate with live agent support, and what the ideal customer journey looks like to deliver on conversational experiences.

  • During the first year of the pandemic, only 52% of companies were using chatbots and human handoffs; today, that number is 64%
  • 89% of service/support teams have a goal to make customer interactions feel more like a conversational experience and less like a transactional experience for customers

Actions to take:

  • Create a hybrid chatbot + agent workforce model
  • Develop best practices around bot handoffs, context gathering, etc.
  • Deliver conversational experiences that differentiate your brand

2. Integrate key data from critical apps

When disparate data point solutions don’t play well together, silos pop up throughout the entire organization, limiting business agility and making it difficult to create revenue-generating opportunities from support interactions.

For support, better collaboration optimizes customer engagement across all touch points. For sales, it gives reps a new channel for discovering cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Identifying, tracking, and acting on shared metrics helps the overall business keep customers happy, reduce churn, and create long-lasting relationships.

Actions to take:

  • Provide agents with the right information at the right time
  • Integrate with your business ecosystem: Focus on the quality of the data, not the quantity
  • Customize the types of data agents are presented with—and at which time—and pull what’s most relevant to the customer and that conversation
  • Present teams with a complete view of the customer

3. Evolve the role of CX by investing in your agents

It’s no surprise that employee churn rates are increasing and KPIs are declining: agents are overwhelmed and burdened with repetitive tasks. It’s been a tough few years, and agents are often unsung heroes, trying to solve problems and make customers happier. We must have empathy towards those on the front lines with customers and provide them with the tools and training they need to perform at their best. This is absolutely critical because it reduces employee churn while leading to better support and customer retention—even expansion.

With smart automations and workflow processes in place, you give agents the power to uplevel their skill sets and solve deeper problems, which can ultimately affect the bottom line, as evidenced by our survey results:

  • 83% of customer service/support employees are trained or directed to uncover sales opportunities in their course of their customer interactions
  • Top cross-sell opportunities come from social messaging (41%)
  • 79% increase in the amount that customers are spending over the last 6 months, an increase from 70% in 2021

Actions to take:

  • Invest in agent training to increase job satisfaction and produce more empathetic support
  • Share knowledge across departments
  • Turn agents into revenue generators by allowing them to create or assign leads to sales

Assess where you’re at

The data in the CX Accelerator report is clear: the role of CX cannot be understated. Leaders need to understand not only how to prioritize these investments but to make them work for their business.

Through the work we do with our customers every day, we understand how daunting this task can be. Yet this research highlights the scale of the opportunity in getting it right, especially as the baseline for service levels from “mature” organizations rise. Take the CX Accelerator quiz to find out where your business ranks, where you risk falling behind, and what you can do to make the right investments now.

CX Accelerator report

Uncover personalized findings and action items for your business.

CX Accelerator report

Uncover personalized findings and action items for your business.

Read the free report