2021 brings with it the shopping trends that we mostly saw in 2020. The pandemic has changed customer buying behavior which may permanently alter the way brands look at customer satisfaction and deliver customer experience.

These changes — increased online shopping, expectations for curbside or buy-online-pick-up-in-store delivery, more flexible and faster returns, and more proactive updates on status and shipping drive the need for faster, more competent, digital customer support.

The increased expectations on retail call center when they are struggling with remote workforces, disconnected or backdated technology, and volatility in call volume and demand generated by customers.

The contact center is entering a new era: AI-driven, autonomous contact center solutions, provide just-in-time, always-on, answer-every-call AI voice services that create elasticity for modern contact centers. Hence, it’s time to do customer service differently.

Consumer behavior is reshaping customer service. Taking an elastic customer service approach with autonomous contact center capabilities can equip you to meet these expectations and improve the customer experience overall and retain your customers.


Online shopping is going to increase

Many shoppers turned to online shopping with stores closed, lockdowns, and social distancing practices in place. The increase in online shopping volume puts pressure on contact centers as agents effectively take in-store sales associates in assisting consumers through the buying process. 59% of consumers contact retail call center now to get help making a purchase.

It is in addition to handling all the routine customer service inquiries and issues. This massive uptick in call volume and the sheer unpredictability of when spikes and surges will arise leaves contact centers maxed out. Thus, long hold times or lack of receptiveness forms unconstructive customer experiences that tempt churn.

In addition to eCommerce, retailers that also have brick-and-mortar stores must maintain high levels of positive CX, and connect the consumer experience across every touchpoint: in-store, website, app, marketing, and customer service. While retailers are looking forwards to eCommerce, for many, it is just another addition to an already intricate omnichannel customer experience.

Increased returns add to the pressure

As shoppers have transitioned to online shopping for items they usually would have tried on or evaluated for themselves in store, the rate of returns has understandably increased.

In fact, digital purchases were forecasted to increase with passing years.

The massive volume of returns incurs steep costs and time, potentially jeopardizing margins for retailers already hard hit by economic uncertainty.

All of these transformations indicate that customer service agents are carrying the weight of a weightier load than they have in several years

Faster, more innovative digital customer support

Given the added pressure on retail call center agents, it would seem not kind to inform call centers that they must now work faster and step up their already stretched-thin game. But, customer expectations come into play when businesses differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace.

Customers choose a company where they get the best customer experience. Their faithfulness is not to brands but to how brands make them experience. And, they have little tolerance for brands that are too slow or fail to respond when they contact customer service.

Final words

Retail call center providers are at an inflection point in 2021 where they must find alternative options of delivering exceptional customer service or risk losing customers and sales to competitors that do.