Shep Hyken On: How Covid Impacted Customer Service


What does the future of customer service look like after covid? Customer service author and keynote speaker Shep Hyken has some thoughts to share.

In this fifth article in our series, we’re revealing the transcript behind the interview we did with customer service experience speaker and author Shep Hyken for our Navigating Customer Service in 2021 trend guide. Featured in this interview snippet is Shep’s interpretation of how customer service has been transformed by the pandemic, and pushed into the future in a big way.



What do you think it was about covid that made customers value customer experience more than ever?

So I think what’s really interesting is that there was this big period of time where customers were willing to be more tolerant of a company right after covid. Not anymore. The best companies and the worst companies, there was a magnifying glass over these companies. And all of a sudden, their customers can see the flaws, or the benefits of doing business with one or the other. And what covid did is if you were I mean, here’s at this point, I believe if you are impatient with the way service was given to you before covid, you are less patient, right after we went into lockdown, because you realize everybody’s scrambling. But now it’s seven months later, eight months later, it’s like you better get back to where you need to be.

Learn more about how customer service will transform post-covid.

Also, and I know I’m getting a little bit away from the answer, but I think it’s important as a company, they recognize opportunities they hadn’t seen before, there were changes that they were forced to make that they never thought they could do before. What was happening wasn’t innovation. It was the adoption or adaptation to existing processes and technologies that were there. And simply put, I believe covid pushed companies three to five years into the future. In other words, in 2023, what we’re experiencing today with the way companies are managing convenience, delivery, and the different attributes of a good experience, which before covid were ways to differentiate yourself. Now they’re standard ways.

Example: My car dealership. They won my business because they said, “When you buy a car from us, we deliver it to you at your home, we’ll pick it up when it needs service. You never come in.” That was pre-covid.

Now, because customers don’t go into dealerships because they’re worried about getting sick and dying, all these other dealerships have said, “Hey, this whole delivery concept, taking it to the customer is pretty important.” So now it’s become table stakes. I like that that’s happened. It’s pushed companies to do a better and more effective job at delivering a better experience to the customer.

What will customer service teams do differently in 2021, to stay ahead of the competition and keep their customers happy?

So I think that what they have to do is go through a process in order to take it to the next level, and that is, they have to look at all the touch points they currently have. And ideally I would love to say let’s look at those touchpoints. And let’s compare the differences to pre-covid, and post-covid. Okay, when I say post-covid, it’s post. Now we’re in the pandemic versus here.

Here’s what I believe the companies will have to do. I want them to look at those interaction points again, I want them to study them: what’s changed? What processes are we doing now that are different? And just because we’re doing them doesn’t mean they’re still what we should be doing? We need to go to the next level, and analyze, is there a way to make this even better? Because that’s what’s going to separate companies...between this company from its competitor, that’s going to make this customer want to do business with them long-term, when we’re constantly customer focused and making decisions that are great, not just for our company, but for a customer.

Learn the innovations you need to make your customer service stand out post-covid.

Read more from Shep, as well as many more expert customer service authors and speakers in our Navigating Customer Service in 2021 trends guide.

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