Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

72 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om Shopping trends and consumer behaviours have changed dramatically since the pandemic. Spending patterns have been significantly altered by homeworking and the enforced closure of physical stores has accelerated the growth of e-commerce. Furthermore, the adoption of remote working technologies has altered omnichannel customer service in previously unimaginable ways. But which of these trends will have a long-term impact on businesses? Homeworking is here to stay. A 2021 World Economic Forum report indicated that around 12.3 per cent of Europeans now work from home, compared to just five per cent before the pandemic. These consumers no longer have to fit online orders or customer service calls around commuting and office-based hours, so they expect businesses to be there whenever they need them. They also expect to be able to interact with brands via various channels. Businesses are already adapting to cater for consumers’ increasing reliance on e-commerce and remote service provision. One key change for 2022 will be the role of customer service hubs, which currently serve as the first point of contact people have with a brand. The responsibilities of these contact centres have broadened significantly during the pandemic, so it is now inefficient and expensive to rely solely on the agents to deal with every customer query. Instead, organisations using Microsoft Teams as the backbone of their IT architecture can extend their contact centre capabilities to anyone in the business with the help of solutions like Anywhere365. Once implemented, Anywhere365’s solutions make it possible for any employee – from customer service agents to managers and subject matter experts – to become part of a customer dialogue in any channel, at any time. This expedites and enhances the dialogue experience for both customers and employees, while driving profitability. According to Gartner, more than 40 per cent of customer service and support leaders have experienced a rise in calls since the pandemic. With research showing that customers look to other brands if they are unable to get the answers they need, now is the time for organisations to invest in implementing a great self-service strategy. Use of self-service has increased dramatically in almost every sector over the past few years. The ability to instantly access the right information empowers customers and enables brands to demonstrate their knowledge, credibility and the fact they value their customers’ time. However, to deliver an efficient and enjoyable self-service experience, they must adopt the right technology and tools – and offer them via customers’ preferred channels. Time to transition to omnichannel Several new omnichannel services trends will emerge in 2022, so now is the time for businesses to adapt to ensure they can support their evolving customer base G I J S G E UR T S : ANYWHE R E 3 6 5 V I EWPO I NT “Remote working technologies have altered omnichannel customer service in previously unimaginable ways”