Customer Service Leaders See a Tough Year Ahead

Sixty percent of customer service managers say it's going to be "the toughest winter yet" as they worry about losing customers in the run up to the holidays, according to new research.

As the industry reaches a tipping point, the research highlights that nearly half (48 percent) of customer service managers have seen customer willingness to buy, repeat purchases, and retention rates drop as a result of the potential recession. Additionally, two thirds of respondents report that customers are becoming more difficult to deal with and that customer expectations are higher than ever.

The data also revealed that nearly half (44 percent) of customer service managers feel that customer satisfaction scores have been difficult to maintain in the last three months in comparison to before the pandemic. Of this group, 61 percent say they have fallen as a result of frustration due to recession fears or staff shortages. The drops were revealed to be quite drastic, with over 40 percent of respondents saying scores have fallen by 5 percent to 10 percent in 2022, with another 34 percent revealing they have fallen 10 percent to 15 percent.

When asked about their biggest fear for 2023, respondents indicated that employee mental health garnered 28 percent of the responses, closely followed by staff shortages and falling sales.

On a more positive note, 74 percent say they are looking for alternative models to staff service and keep customers happy.

"With customer loyalty and attrition now at its most fragile, leaders need to look for models that provide flexibility and empathic customer service," said Megan Neale, chief information officer and co-founder of Limitless, a gig customer service provider, in a statement. "The GigCX model, which uses brand advocates who are customers themselves, may just bridge the gaps we are seeing."

To ensure customers aren't lost as we head into the new year, empathic customer support (36 percent) followed by flash sales, incentives, and discounts (34 percent) rank as top business strategies. Fifty-six percent of U.S. respondents see this period as a time to shine.