Customer service organizations are playing a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more companies are working remotely and are being forced to do more with fewer resources, according to a survey by SaaS customer service platform provider, Kustomer. This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

Based on a survey of more than 150 customer service professionals across a variety of industries, Kustomer found that 90% of customer service professionals surveyed believe customer service is more important than ever, but substantially fewer agents feel equipped to handle massive changes in ticket volume, customer attitudes and policies.

"With increasing numbers of businesses closing their storefronts, customer service agents are often the only point of contact consumers have with a company, making them invaluable to brands' efforts to manage the rising number of customer inquiries and prevent issues before they arise," said Brad Birnbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Kustomer. "Right now, it's especially critical that customer service organizations across all industries have the ability to adapt and respond to today's demands, and provide their agents with the technology and support they need to do their jobs well."

Seventy nine percent of respondents said the pandemic is affecting their customer service organization significantly and only 1% of organizations reported no change at all. While some industries, like retail, are seeing a troubling decrease in business, the survey found that other industries, like healthcare and financial services, are faced with more problems than ever before.

Among the key findings of the survey:

  • Customer service inquiries are rising
    Customer service teams are seeing a 17% increase in inquiries (phone inquiries- 34% increase, email- 28% increase and web- 24% increase).
  • Agents aren't well-equipped to work remotely
    Thirty-nine percent of survey participants reported difficulty working remotely and 23% reported a lack of correct tools to successfully work in a remote environment.
  • New policies and more complex issues demand greater efficiencies
    Seventy-seven percent reported they had to learn new policies, 64% reported a need for greater efficiencies and 57% reported having to deal with more complex issues than usual. Only 50% said they felt they had the resources to solve customer problems.
  • Leaner customer service teams are asked to do more with less
    Sixty-three percent of customer service organizations reported a need to cut costs during the pandemic and 46% reported a need to reduce staff.
  • The right technology is needed to support customer needs
    Fifty-six percent of customer service organizations report the need to invest in new technology and 59% report the need to adopt automation for efficiency.

"Today's climate demands that companies and their customer service teams increase efficiencies with limited resources, leaving many looking for intelligent technology and tools to automate and scale communication with accuracy and empathy," added Birnbaum. "We believe that platforms like ours, including our latest AI engine Kustomer IQ, can provide agents with the tools and insights they need to get to the root of customer needs and ultimately help brands develop and maintain long-lasting customer relationships."