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Listening to the Customer Now More Important Than Ever

As market volatility went into overdrive in early 2020 due to the pandemic shutdown, it became clear to Wendy Shaw, vice president of operations for Nationwide Retirement Solutions that the game had changed. Panicked retirement plan participants considering emotional responses to an unexpected market crash needed to talk to someone right away. As call volumes spiked, Shaw’s team recognized that it was critical to deliver fast, calm and compassionate guidance to help retirement savers avoid mistakes that could derail their long-term financial security.

A recent Reuters Events panel addressed the accelerated need for organizations to provide better more flexible experiences for customers in the webinar titled,Shifting Customer Expectations - Top Customer Care Trends for 2022’, which featured insights from senior leaders at Nationwide, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Ricoh USA & Hootsuite. The panelists discussed the top trends, challenges, and opportunities that the customer service industry faces this year.

Watch the panel discussion below.


Shaw participated on the panel and noted that the pandemic has significantly increased customer expectations for Nationwide.

“Anxiety and uncertainty have definitely elevated since the pandemic started,” she said. “To meet expectations, we remained committed to customer centricity through 24/7 service and focused on maintaining and continuing to build trust with customers.”

Shaw also said listening to the customer is more important now than ever.

“There are so many ways now to listen to the customer, starting with the front line all the way through artificial intelligence that shows us all of our interactions with them,” she said. “The most important thing, however, is how do we take action to improve the customer experience based on all the data and insights we can now receive?”

She also addressed how organizations need to be able to respond and interact with customers in whichever way they want to be communicated with, whether that’s self-service or through digital channels.

“It’s not all or nothing, sometimes you have to zig zag,” she said. “A customer may start with a digital interaction but based on the situation may want to move over to a phone call with a customer service representative to determine the best outcome.”

When asked to predict what’s ahead this year for the customer service industry Shaw said innovation and technology will continue to be of prime importance in order for organizations to meet and exceed their expectations.

“Companies need to take advantage of the power of the innovative solutions that are available to all of us that can help expand the way we listen to and address customers’ needs,” she said.