For some organisations Covid-19 has led to a spike in customer service enquiries. For many, the resources that have been relied on for many years, such as telephone lines operated by customer service agents, have come under immense strain and no longer support effective customer service.

Behind the scenes you are likely doing everything you can, with the resources you have, to try to respond to all your customer enquiries in a timely manner. If your customer service channels have been hit hard and you are struggling to respond at the usual rate, it is important to set clear expectations with your customers. Make sure to put a clear statements on your website, social media channels and/or phone lines explaining that response times may be slower than usual due to increased demand.

In the current economic climate, scaling customer service teams to cope with increased demand is not an option for all. In fact many organisations are likely operating with fewer staff. Now is therefore the time to be proactive with your customer service and explore options such as self-service, automation, chatbots and other tools to make the best use of your customer service agents’ time.

Continued growth of omnichannel engagement

More and more people are becoming used to, and demanding, a truly omnichannel experience, and that’s especially required in customer service. Customers need a seamless solution throughout their entire support experience, whether they decide to opt for self-service or engage with an agent. Your agents, therefore, require the ability to interact with customers wherever they are and however they choose to contact you, whether that is via social media, email, chat or phone.

Increased adoption of powerful AI capabilities

A trend we are seeing amid coronavirus is the increased adoption of powerful AI capabilities. AI enables focused, next-best action and the right automation. There are multiple use cases for AI in customer service, including the collection of sentiment analysis, automated case routing and the seamless case handoff between virtual and human agents.

Today, you can completely resolve customer queries with AI. The baked-in AI capabilities of tools, such as Dynamics 365 Customer Service, can dynamically guide agents to the right actions by surfacing the relevant information when they need it, giving agents more time to focus on high-value interactions.

Those not planning to build AI capabilities into their customer service experience will quickly fall behind, especially during these unusual times. According to Gartner, by 2025, organisations that embed AI in their multichannel customer engagement centre platforms will elevate operational efficiency by 25 percent.

Proactive customer service

So how do you get started enabling a modern, proactive customer service experience during these challenging times?

Start with your people. It is key that your customer service agents have the tools and information they need right at their fingertips. This will empower them to deliver more personalised, effective standards of service. Ideally all this information should be easily accessible from one system that clearly presents them with the data they need, when they need it. This is even more critical during a time when agents are tighter on time or working with smaller teams. In addition, it is essential for managers to have real-time visibility into their team’s productivity and as well as the ability to delve into trending customer service topics.

Providing customer service agents with a 360-degree view of each customer journey enables them to anticipate needs and personalise every interaction. Full omnichannel engagement lets customers connect anytime, anywhere and on their channel of choice.

Having a unified technology approach in place brings clarity to processes and unlocks your ability to drive modern, proactive customer service. This is the first step in allowing you to take advantage of AI capabilities; open new channels; solve and automate complex issues; and gain real-time actionable insights.

To learn more about how to get started, watch our Proactive Customer Service Live Event recording to discover how organisations are automating and optimising customer service during Covid-19.