Customer service is at the core of customer experience, and has arguably seen more change and elevated importance over the past years than any other business function, this according to the 2022 State of Service Report from Salesforce.

The fifth edition of State Of Service is based on insights from more than 8,000 customer service agents and leaders around the world who shared their observations on the trends, priorities and challenges that define CX at present.

This report assesses recent major developments in customer service and explains the impact for CX practitioners, from the importance of field service to digital engagement and the focus on agent experience.

Furthermore, State Of Service examines the rise of the chief customer officer, the wider role of CX practitioners in the c-suite and the investments driving agent training and development.

Take a look at some of the key findings that will drive customer service the rest of 2022 and beyond.

1. Digital Engagement Now the Norm

The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital channels from SMS, WhatsApp, and Facebook to Apple Business Messenger. Traditional telephony has evolved into an intelligent digital channel. As customer expectations rise and habits change, there is not going back to traditional customer service channels – digital is the future.

2. Customers Expect Service to Seamlessly Span Physical, Digital, and Contact Center

The lines are blurring across onsite field service, contact centers, and digital self-service. 86% percent of decision makers at organizations with field service say it’s critical to scaling their business, and a key way they are achieving this is through virtual remote assistance with contact center agents assisting customers using augmented reality.

Customers’ expectations mean service professionals need visibility into the entire customer journey in order to engage empathetically and efficiently. Efforts to connect the entire customer journey are well underway.

3. Labor Dynamics Heighten Focus on Agent Experience and Automation

Supply chain delays have created a surge in customer support volume at the same time contact centers face staffing shortages and high turnover (highest in B2C environments). To survive, leaders are reimagining their service operations with self-service web and mobile experiences, RPA, and chatbots for straightforward tasks. Organizations are also redesigning agent experiences to be simpler, more integrated, and to offer in-the-moment AI guidance and training to help newly hired agents become productive faster.

Today, the urgency for efficiency is also being driven by economic headwinds and fears of a recession, prompting service teams — and their peers in other departments — to consider how they can do more with less.

In a decentralized, digital-first hyper connected and sharing economy, customers service is marketing. Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. What people like to talk about is an exceptional customer service experience, or a very poor one. Your brand promise is dependent on the delivery quality of your customer service organization.

The report concludes: “While it may sound simple, being truthful and open is the top way organizations can build trust. A track record of routine honesty is the foundation upon which brands build trusted customer relationships.”