As companies faced major disruption in 2020, those with a strong customer experience (CX) foundation came out ahead reaped the benefits in terms of increased loyalty and revenue.
What Can We Learn From The Successes And What Should We Expect In 2021?
The positive CX trends that will benefit both businesses and customers over the next 12 months are as follows:
1) Digital transformation will accelerate
Even before the coronavirus, 70% of companies had or were working on some kind of digital transformation strategy. But while organizations may have understood the need for digitalization before, there is no doubt that COVID-19 created an urgent need to accelerate these plans. From cloud-based remote work to digital customer service, many small technology deployments were quickly put to use as solutions in response to the crisis.
According to market research, organizations that saw the greatest customer experience improvement focused on advancing core CX competencies: strategy, customer insights, and ROI metrics, rather than finding and fixing problems with systems and back-end processes. Therefore, in 2021 we will see more strategic digital transformation initiatives move from planning to execution.
After all, digitally mature companies are 23% more profitable than their less mature peers. And with increasing uncertainty surrounding 2021 market conditions, there is a renewed focus on investing that drives measurable returns in the short to medium term.
2) Services Will Grab Attention
Once a technology-centric term, the “as a service” model has spread to all sectors, since the value is not in the products, it is in the service and the overall customer experience using that service. This trend will continue.
Services will also come to the fore as retail goes digital. Within EU countries, the proportion of online retail sales increased by 30% compared to the previous year in April 2020. E-commerce has expanded into new segments and new demographics (for example, the senior generation). And the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) predicts that brick-and-mortar stores around the world will struggle to regain much of this trade.
To attract consumers to the store, it will be necessary to focus on value-added experiences, whether it be creating an experiential concept, providing personalized services to customers or using the facilities for community activities.
3) Real-Time Information Will Drive Visualization Of The Customer Journey
In 2021, real-time information will be key to CX strategy and delivery. Which means that the visualization of the customer journey will come true. This provides real-time insight into complex, non-linear and often unplanned customer journeys, and what the ideal journeys should look like to make them happen, profitable and scalable.
These two techniques help to break down the complexity of CX and provide crucial evidence that the investment is contributing to positive results. They help to better understand needs, anticipate problems and optimize the customer experience in real time. You can also answer questions such as:
- How many times (and on what channels) does someone interact with a company to get a delivery sooner?
- What path has the customer followed before and after interacting with the call center?
4) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Be A Fundamental Facilitator
It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the way businesses interact with customers. With AI and machine learning, brands can be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at every stage of the journey. In 2021, we will see more companies use this technology to synthesize customer data and deliver personalized experiences. This will lead to higher conversion rates, better customer satisfaction (CSAT, Net Promoted Score), cost reduction, and higher customer loyalty.
For example, in telecommunications, organizations are using technology to predict problems and solve them proactively, leading to higher customer retention. AI-powered chatbots to deliver integrated multichannel support, take the pressure off contact centers, and accelerate resolution times.
5) Managing Interaction In Real-Time Will Take Personalization To The Next Level
Using a customer’s name in an email is a degree of personalization. Remarketing campaigns and “other customers also bought” messages also involve personalization. But these tactics don’t create genuine moments with customers. To create moments, you must focus on customers as individuals, predict their needs, and interact in real-time.
That’s why real-time interaction management (RTIM) will be a major trend in 2021. RTIM is growing rapidly: interactions have increased from 50 million to 1 billion per month in just 5 years.
With a traditional multi-channel approach, customer segments are created and outbound campaigns are sent. With RTIM you go one step further, using analytics to recognize customers, drill down into their requirements, and make the best decision on how to deliver value and the optimal experience at that time. RTIM involves outbound channels as part of the customer journey, but also takes into account inbound customer interactions to foster two-way conversations.
The Customer Experience Strategy Will Be Key To The Success Of Companies In 2021
There is no doubt that CX should be part of the business strategy of organizations. If not, unhappy customers are more likely to turn to the competition. But by taking the time to consider the experience on offer, you can capitalize on your digital transformation spend, as well as attract and retain customers who will stay in the new year and beyond.
And now is an ideal time to strategically analyze the customer experience approach. With all the changes happening in 2020, brands can take the lead and capitalize on consumer demands for convenience, relevance and empathy.
And that’s what these 5 trends have in common: They are all ways that companies can forge stronger and more meaningful relationships. And those relationships will deliver long-term value for both an organization and its customers.