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2023: The year of customer service-led growth

By Adrian McDermott, Chief Technology Officer, Zendesk

Last updated January 5, 2023

While leaders navigate a constantly changing reality, they must keep thinking about how to drive their business forward. As many companies hold on deploying new initiatives until the outlook is clearer, they are eyeing where current investments can be made: such as in customer experience. Why CX? Where human interactions are concerned, it is quality, not quantity that ultimately matters most – now more than ever before.

Invest in CX to grow your bottom line and secure leadership backing

There is a real risk in delivering subpar experiences. According to our 2022 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends report, the pandemic did not make customers more forgiving. If anything, they are more discerning. More than 60% of customers will defect after one bad experience, up 22% from last year. It is clear that consumer expectations have continued to increase and they are less willing to put up with frustrating experiences. This is likely something your customer service team observes, but it may not be as clear to those with budget authority. Now is a good time to demonstrate to leadership how quality customer service interactions are essential and what ultimately impact a customer relationship most, regardless of how many tickets are processed in a given day. Being able to tie customer service to business growth is incredibly valuable. It is often needed to get leadership backing and the investment in customer service that they do not have today. With increasing competition on the quality of customer experience, making strategic investments can be transformational and translate to a higher return on investment. Our research found that 64% of business leaders surveyed say customer service has a positive impact on their company’s growth, and 60% say it improves customer retention. In a landscape where customers shop with a service-first mindset, companies that deliver excellent CX are primed to outpace their competitors swiftly.

Customers expect better service and reward companies that meet expectations

What does it mean to offer great customer service? That depends on who you ask. Businesses give themselves higher marks than customers do. While 60% of companies surveyed say they provide good customer service, 54% of customers report that customer service feels like an afterthought for most businesses they buy from. On the other hand, when customers feel heard and taken care of, they are more likely to buy from you again. A focus on providing quality service to impact customer loyalty and retention is more lucrative in the long run. To create high-quality customer experiences, businesses need to go a step further than offering basic support. The most effective way to keep customers around is not by wowing them with free things or extravagant discounts, but by just making things easy and seamless for them when they need to get in touch with you. That means meeting your customers where and how it is convenient for them. Like on any channel they want to reach you, whether that is email, voice, messaging, social channels, text or live chat. Additionally, it is vital to connect service teams to the rest of the business as they are the ones who talk to your customers every day. By sharing customer feedback to improve the service experience, companies can meet consumer expectations and are best positioned to drive growth.

Quality over quantity matters most in customer service

Customers cannot stand repeating themselves, and they certainly do not want to be forced to call you when they would rather just send a quick message. In fact, they are often more loyal to companies that make customer service easier. 93% of consumers say they are willing to spend more with companies that do not make them repeat themselves. And they expect a seamless experience at every touchpoint: 73% of consumers want to be able to start on one channel and pick up on another without starting over. Yet only a third of companies today provide omnichannel support, a delta that reveals great opportunities to drive higher engagement and customer loyalty. Our research found that speed and convenience remain top priorities for customers, but that is no longer enough. They also want empathetic agents, always-on support and personalised conversational experiences, whether talking to a human or a chatbot. 68% of consumers expect personalisation each and every time they reach out and the companies that equip their agents with tools to have true customer intelligence – that know who the customer is, where they are coming from, and what their issue might be – can deliver high-quality service.

Now is the time to make CX a priority

What businesses do now, in the midst of uncertainty, is what sets the course for the future. What you choose to prioritise and how nimbly you can adapt will determine whether you have set the trajectory for growth or stagnation. Customers have made it clear they expect great service, which we know is hard, day in and day out. Yet investment in a few key areas, from connecting service with the rest of the business to getting strategic buy-in to supporting agents, creates better customer experiences and accelerates business growth. 2022 will be the year where customer service is no longer an afterthought, but a genuine opportunity for growth and revenue.