How COVID Has Reshaped Customer Success: The Good, the Bad, and the Promising
Share with Your Network
This past year has fundamentally changed the trajectory of business operations, including customer service and success. And the outlook promises even more change. When business travel ground to a halt and office commutes became extinct almost overnight, customer success teams suddenly feared the relationships they worked so hard to build would be in jeopardy.
But a new, more fluid, on-demand, and hyper-personalized vision of customer success has started to take shape. And now the dust has begun to settle, we can more easily dissect the positive aspects that emerged, the negative factors to consider, and the promising opportunities ahead.
The Good: Teams emerge more nimble and attentive
Cloud-based technology adoption was ramping up before the pandemic, and the first few months of 2020 only served to accelerate growth. We saw many organizations quickly reshuffling operations; thus, the demand for flexible and scalable cloud solutions skyrocketed. A Cisco Systems survey conducted in April of 2020 found that 62% of contact center leaders planned to implement new cloud technologies in the next 18 months. For some customer experience teams, the change was fundamental. Take, for example, the International Customer Management Institute who, in the wake of the outbreak, transitioned 80% of its agents to work-from-home environments.
Proactive and agile organizations that already had these key technical pieces in place, can service customers remotely. It turned out to be a motion ideal for pandemic times since most customers had to work from home. In a way, the pandemic changed expectations for everyone involved, leading to a mutual acceptance that remote work is both necessary and, at times, more efficient.
Transforming customer success operations at breakneck speed is challenging. And customers understand this. According to a recent survey by Freshworks, 74% of customer service leaders say customers have become “more empathetic” since the crisis. Customer success teams and the businesses they serve found themselves working through the same uncertain and complex months. They found a way to make room for more personal contact and relationship building—essential for customer success—even when confined to digital spaces.
The Bad: Expectations are high(er)
Yet while they feel empathetic, customers also are expecting more from Customer Success teams. While they may be more understanding that the teams that service them are ramping up their capabilities, customers still demand world-class service. With more customers at home, there has also been a surge in customer contact volume, with 83% of customer service leaders citing an increase in support volumes, according to the Freshworks survey. Customer success organizations not equipped to meet those expectations are buckling under customer support demands in a COVID environment.
Higher expectations can also squeeze out smaller, less funded providers unable to scale their infrastructure to rise the occasion. According to a recent Verint Systems survey, only 50% of business leaders feel they’re prepared to support customer engagement priorities moving forward, and 82% believe 2021 will reveal even more difficulties.
Actual in-person visits, particularly those that require air travel, have been reduced due to pandemic restrictions, which can further impact customer relationships. On-boarding and implementation are contained to digital spaces, underlining the need for practical and clear communication and training.
The Promising: Flexible solutions for an agile future
From a customer standpoint, remote and hybrid workforces are here to stay, emphasizing the need for a flexible, cloud-based technology without requiring on-site installation. The good news is companies are readying themselves. Spending on cloud-based cybersecurity solutions, for instance, is forecast to grow 14% annually through 2024.
One reason: With cybersecurity risk on the rise—the National Vulnerability Database published an average of 31 new vulnerabilities every day in the first quarter of 2021—the future is uncertain. Modern cloud solutions help future-proof businesses by automatically updating instances, and they’re constantly fortifying the way they secure themselves against emerging threats.
For example, Kenna Security‘s partnership with VMware Carbon Black brings risk prioritization to vulnerabilities within cloud workloads, further aligning Security with IT and adding another layer of security to help today’s organizations drive down their risk profiles. Initiatives like this are a core part of a large-scale customer success posture because success efforts extend well beyond the point an implementation goes live.
For vendors themselves, a cloud offering brings unique advantages. Customer success team members (and potential talent) can work from virtually anywhere, opening up working hours beyond time zones. The Freshworks survey found that 75% of customer service leaders increased their budgets to ramp up virtual operations and support their customers moving forward.
The road ahead
All of these efforts to adapt and scale in the face of historic challenges produce results for businesses. In a recent Global Marketing Trends survey, Deloitte Consulting found 58% of respondents could identify a company that made improvements after the outbreak began.
Businesses are still navigating the road ahead, but customer success organizations will continue to become more fluid, flexible resources. And that’s everything in a business built on relationships.
How Kenna has adapted to a more fluid, on-demand, and hyper-personalized vision of customer success? Talk to one of our experts to learn more.