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Customer Experience Trends and Tactics 2021


Is it really nearly 2021?

Many of us are looking at our calendars right now, blinking twice, wondering how on earth we are entering Q4, of what has been an eventful 2020.

It is at this time of year that three year business plans are being finalised and naturally Companies are looking at the future. There is no doubt that the pandemic of 2020 has shifted human behaviour on a global level, and we know 2021 promises some great opportunities, and new sets of challenges, especially how we all interact with our customers.

Let's look at a few trends of customer experience hitting the headlines.

Customer Experience is more important than ever to consumers

As the growth in Ecommerce has been seen across the globe, consumers are adapting to the new way of buying, their ability to compare and switch retailers has increased dramatically. Whilst price still play’s a major influence in retail purchasing decisions, there are other factors. A great customer experience across their journey pre and post purchase i.e. including handling orders, delivery and returns. Increases the lifetime value of that customer. A recent global survey undertaken by Mckinsey & Company highlighted 59% of consumers said they cared MORE about customer experience when they decide what company to support or buy from.

A whole business approach to Customer Experience is still essential

Whilst we are in uncertain times and the world is rapidly changing around us, the business with a customer centric approach will stand out from the crowd. It is no longer just a requirement to have a great website, or contact centre.

Whilst budgets are being squeezed, its about maximising what resources you have and investing in tools to drive productivity, customer satisfaction and reduce fixed costs. This requires buy in from Finance and IT as well as the traditional market facing departments

This will be essential to maximise the market opportunities which will come; if you build a customer-centric culture, processes and technology — you will succeed.

We're being watched and judged!

Customers are watching closely, waiting for those businesses who get things right, and when they do, they reward that by giving their loyalty. What is right depends on your business segment. However, central to this is putting the customer first. There are six key areas to do this :

  1. Being trustworthy and engendering trust
  2. Turning any poor experiences into a great- ones
  3. Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
  4. Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport
  5. Using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection
  6. Minimising customer effort and creating a frictionless process

A great strategy will define your success in 2021

Businesses must have a context in which to build seamless journeys and customer experience must be part of your business strategy. This is 100% non-negotiable! Even national governments (including the US Government) are working on elevating their citizens’ experiences!

The fundamental point is that customer experience strategy provides necessary context and this strategy is the first step to business survival in 2021, not just for large organisations and iconic brands. Mapping and understanding how customers are interacting at every touchpoint is essential. Know their journey, their micro journeys, and ensure delivery of well-planned, seamless service, knowledge and function at every step is key to delivering great CX.

Contactless is here to stay

Around 3 years ago, facial recognition services began popping up around everywhere - from unlocking your phone, to boarding a plane, and these contactless experiences were considered innovative and a great progressive step in seamless customer journeys.

Now, we are “pushing the envelope” and going above and beyond - especially due to COVID. We're having temperature checks, we're using QR codes and quick-links to access restaurant menus. Just a couple of months ago, Oracle published a comprehensive study about consumer travel expectations post-COVID. Interestingly, one of the results was that "35% of consumers will be more comfortable staying at a hotel if the facility offers contactless payment". This feature ranked above; self-service check-in/kiosks, temperature taking and smartphone access, so this means when future contactless experiences are designed, they REALLY need to be contactless.

Being fully contactless will become even more important in 2021 as cautious customers navigate new shopping experiences both online and in-store.

Businesses will have to put in the hard work and budgets to build the necessary integrations to design “real” contactless experiences, keeping customers happy and loyal.

And finally, but by no means least….

2021 Customer Experience is about Relationships over Transactions

The 2021 customer will pay attention to you as a brand and they are looking to see how empathetic you really are. Businesses are being evaluated on the human scale more than ever before, and as a result, the value proposition is evaluated on HOW you do your business and integrity is key.

Work therefore must be undertaken on clearly articulating the “Purpose” of the organisation. Why does a business exist beyond what they make, do or sell

Purpose goes beyond brand positioning and is reflective of the value culture and ethos of the organisation. This become more important in this information age and consumers have the knowledge with a few clicks of a mouse and feedback is open for the world to see

For some organisations this will be as difficult as a mission to Mars, for others, a trip to the local shop. However, it is a journey that needs to be taken to ensure long term success.