Customer service and the global pandemic

How have the fundamentals changed?

Article by John Hicks | 10th February 2022

The pandemic has been one of the most transformative events in modern history. Life in the UK has shifted fundamentally, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of work. Two years of COVID-19 have changed not only the manner in which we work, but our attitude to the concept of work itself:

Changes in retail were customer-driven

But things were different in the retail sector. Stores remained open and colleagues continued going into work, often at considerable risk to themselves

The nature of retail work changed temporarily as a result of social distancing and other safety measures, but the biggest changes were in the expectations of customers. Shoppers had new priorities, and they began to seek a very different kind of shopping experience:  

  • In 2020, 57% of shoppers chose where to shop based on the ability to social distance
  • A further 37% prioritised convenience above all else
  • Customers were less willing to travel, making 22% fewer shopping trips in 2020

This new focus on safety and convenience can also be seen in the rise of online and omnichannel shopping.  87% of UK adults made an online purchase in 2020, and ecommerce accounted for 36% of all retail sales in November 2020. 

Click & Collect also became a dominant force. By allowing customers to minimise time spent in stores, the service perfectly captured the mood of the time. 80% of stores offered a Click & Collect service in 2020, and Click & Collect revenue is expected to reach £10 billion by 2023

Will these changes last?

It’s not surprising that customer priorities changed in 2020. The real question for retailers is whether these changes will be permanent. Data from last year paints a mixed picture. One the one hand, it seems that shoppers are keen to get back to shopping in-store:

  • 66% of consumers expect to return to their normal routines in 2022
  • 94% of shoppers say their finances have either returned to normal, or will do so this year
  • 41% of customers are keen to see items before they buy them, and 16% are looking forward to shopping socially again

Get to know the post-pandemic shopper. Read our report here:

However, it seems that customers will also retain some of the behaviours and expectations of the pandemic:

  • 20% of UK customers plan to continue shopping online after the pandemic
  • Over half plan to use Click & Collect more, and 61% have increased their use of self-checkouts
  • 70% of customers have switched to different brands, and 14% have lost all sense of brand loyalty

Find the perfect balance with VoCoVo

The loss of brand loyalty presents an opportunity for stores that are willing to adapt. Customers will switch to whatever store suits their needs, and we can help you become that store.

 Our products let you give customers the best of both worlds. You can  streamline newer services such as Click & Collect and self-checkout, while also providing the good old fashioned customer service that they have been missing:

  • Headsets can be used to authorise self-checkout purchases remotely. This reduces queuing times and allows you to cover the SCO area with fewer colleagues.
  • Headsets allow you to find information for customers without leaving their side. If a customer needs specific advice, you can speak to the most knowledgeable colleague without having to track them down.
  • Call points can be placed on Click & Collect counters. Customers can use these to check on their orders without having to join the main queue. 
  • Telephony integration allows you to answer customer calls from the shop floor. Customers can call ahead to check on online orders and have their call put straight through to the stockroom.

Shoppers may have new priorities, but good customer service will keep them coming back. Get in touch today to get started.

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