When the COVID outbreak hit the United States in early 2020, most companies were completely unprepared. Businesses of all sizes and types scrambled for new ways to help their customers and provide them with the best service possible given the circumstances. At the time, business leaders probably didn’t even realize that many of the changes they implemented would end up becoming long-term solutions.

A year and a half later, businesses have learned valuable lessons about the power of exceptional customer service. Today’s most successful companies have adapted and worked hard to understand what their customers are going through, as well as what they want and expect. They have improved their customer service by delivering more compassion, empathy, and patience.

To deliver the best customer service possible, it’s important to understand the trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic. The average consumer has evolved significantly in the last year or so in terms of their needs, wants, and expectations. Here are four ways that COVID has changed customer service:

People like convenience and ease

Online shopping, curbside pickup, and delivery services are certainly nothing new. However, the pandemic has switched them from a luxury to the norm. People have fallen in love with the convenience, ease, and safety of these options, and it is likely that they are here to stay.

Customers expect compassion and empathy

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on people and businesses around the world. Today’s customers aren’t just hoping for compassionate service- they’re expecting it. Research shows that one-third of customers will stop doing business with a brand they love after just one bad experience. Additionally, 74% of businesses report a renewed focus towards being more compassionate with their customers. Simply put, if you’re not delivering compassionate customer service, your customers will move on to a competitor that is.

Customers are paying attention, and they notice improved service

People expect more empathetic customer service, and they are paying attention to which brands are delivering it. Deloitte’s latest Global Marketing Trends survey of global consumers found that 58% of respondents could name a brand that improved its customer service after the COVID outbreak. With this said, we recommend treating every customer as though they were going to write a review about your company. They are paying attention to the service you deliver, so make sure it’s excellent.

Technology is here to stay

Unable to meet with customers face-to-face, companies have found innovative new ways to be accessible. In addition to being reachable via phone, an increasing number of businesses are now assisting customers via text message, live chat, and social media.

Their efforts to delight customers using technology appear to be working; Deloitte’s survey found that two-thirds of consumers feel that the pandemic has increased their appreciation for well-designed technologies. The technology trend also appears here to stay, as the majority of respondents believe that they will continue to use digital technologies more than they did prior to the pandemic.