The global pandemic led to billions of people around the world spending the year 2020 behind closed doors. For most of the year, many of us didn’t have any face-to-face interaction with anyone living outside our home, except for delivery people and cashiers at the grocery store. Even those interactions weren’t truly face-to-face as our visages were hidden behind masks.
All of that is looking to change later this year, though, and people can’t wait for things to get back to normal. While we begin the transition back towards a world more in line with what we experienced in 2019, it is important to remember that there is a new normal. Some things will switch back to how they were before, but others will forever be different.
The Future Is Now
For people working in customer service, the reopening of the world from its current closed-off state will mean a variety of things. Many people working in customer service roles did the majority of their job over the phone or through the computer before the pandemic. Most of these people’s work lives were not greatly affected by the pandemic. The biggest change for many was that instead of going into the office, they worked from home.
While some of these people will return to the office in 2021, for others the switch to remote work will be permanent. For years now, plenty of customer service roles have been heading in this direction. Once upon a time, all customer service positions were in person. Now customer service reps in fewer and fewer industries actually ever meet a customer in person.
Some customer service roles have been eliminated entirely, with workers being replaced by advanced software. This approach, however, has been met with mixed results and the majority of customer service jobs still have the human touch.
Remembering How to Function in Real Life
While some people will be staying home or switching from an in-person role to a position behind a computer, others will be returning to a simpler time. A big question that many people will be facing this next year is, “Do I remember how to talk to someone in person?”. This question is particularly important for people working in-person customer service roles, as interacting with the public is a primary component of the job.
The silver lining of the pandemic could have been a world that came out the other end, kinder than the one that entered into it. Nothing brings people together better than a shared tragedy. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of disagreement over the nature of the disaster we have faced. That, combined with the length of the tragedy, has only helped to further divide us and create a world that is even more hostile.
It is still possible that once we have made it all the way through, people will begin to come together. Only time will tell. People may be so grateful that they are able to eat in restaurants, attend sporting events, witness a live concert, and go to a friend’s wedding that they have more patience with those working their best to make their experience an enjoyable one.
Of course, it is unlikely that any extra patience people may gain from the pandemic will extend to them suffering an accident. It will still be vitally important for employers to have the proper insurance to protect them and their employees in the case of an accident. A DJ working a wedding should still carry vendor event insurance because a bride who trips over a cable and breaks her leg will most likely still pursue legal action.
Overall, for in-person customer service representatives, things are likely going to return to a normal that is very representative of the pre-pandemic model. Some people will be kind and patient when you make a mistake, while others will never be satisfied no matter how wonderfully you perform your job.
It is important to remember how to respond appropriately. You will need to show appreciation with the good customers and discretion with the bad customers. Unlike when you are dealing with people through a screen, you don’t have the option to close your screen when you have had enough of the interaction.