What to watch out for in 2021
Customer experience is a concept that’s constantly evolving, driven by changing technology, new generations, and changes in the way that people shop. However, in 2020, the CX landscape experienced a metamorphosis like never before.
Throughout 2020, the rise of a global pandemic forced every business to rethink the way that they interacted with customers, not just for sales, but for service and support too. Consumers have been jolted into a world where digital shopping is the new normal, and face-to-face interactions in the real world are becoming less common.
People everywhere are searching for insights into which companies they can trust, and they refuse to compromise on safety. According to Forrester’s consumer CX quality survey, the number of brands improving CX in 2020 grew to 27% (from 14% in 2019). So what will CX look like in 2021?
There’s no arguing with the fact that companies have had to change the way they interact with customers in the last couple of years. Even before the pandemic, self-service solutions were becoming an increasingly popular way to streamline sales. However, in 2020, the demand for this functionality increased.
Face-to-face interactions between staff and customers became more dangerous. Fewer team members in stores also meant that self-service allowed customers to conveniently speed up the purchasing process. Giving customers way to care for their own problems with the help of virtual assistants in contact centre call queues, self-scanning systems and other helpful technology changes will reduce the pressure on your teams in 2021 and improve experience.
Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, chatbots are a fantastic tool for self-service, but they can be a lot more than that too. Chatbots help customers to answer questions for themselves when they have problems with a product or service. They can also assist your customer service representatives by offering access to contextual information.
In 2021, we’re likely to see a more connected cross-channel approach to chatbot functionality. Instead of deploying these chatbots in siloed environments, companies will ensure that their customers can get the same consistent experience whether they’re chatting with bots on mobile apps, websites, or through contact centre tools.
Businesses are fundamentally changing their approach to customer experience. The world of artificial intelligence and big data means that organisations can get a better look at the reality of what’s going on in the customer journey. With the right tools, companies can examine every touchpoint on the customer journey, from the point where they discover a problem, to the conversations that happen after the purchase.
Using more advanced tools to track the customer journey will be a crucial trend for CX in 2021. Companies will want to ensure that they can assist their customers on all the channels that they use while providing deeply personal and contextual experiences. Advanced tracking tools for the customer journey will also make it easier to spot problems with customer service, address challenges straight away, and even detect sentiment. Going forward, organisations may even be able to predict issues and customer needs in advance, to streamline the journey even further.
GDPR has led to a new era of data consciousness and secure selling for today’s companies. As the years pass, organisations are continuing to roll out new and improved regulations for business leaders to follow. In 2020, when the world became increasingly digital, this led to cybercriminals increasingly taking advantage of opportunities for data theft in the online world.
For 2021, all security experts will need to think more carefully about the security systems they have in place to protect their customers, we’re likely to see more collaboration between mobile network operators and banks. Technology like biometric voice authentication, and various new verification methods will also continue to appear in the years ahead.
Omni-channel experiences aren’t a new concept in the CX landscape, but they’ve been growing more essential in recent years. Around 51% of businesses say that they’re using at least eight channels for customer management alone. In 2020, the number of channels companies were using continued to grow, with many companies closing up shop and transferring themselves to the online world.
In 2021, brands will need to focus more carefully on not just having the right channels available for customer service but making sure that all of those channels are truly connected. A seamless omni-channel experience should allow customers to continue the same conversation as they move from one channel to the next, without having to repeat themselves.
An acceleration in the available technology in the marketplace today could mean that we see the arrival of various new tools for customer service and experience. Many organisations have already begun to experiment with things like Virtual Reality to help customers shop and try on products from the comfort of their own home.
Augmented reality could be an excellent way to help clients troubleshoot problems and overcome issues during onboarding in the years too come. These opportunities will become even more accessible in the age of 5G.
Finally, in 2020, when companies had to shut their doors to the general public, many organisations had trouble making the final transition into the digital world. Moving the entire customer service team into a digital and remote environment isn’t always easy – but it could be the future of ensuring continuity for organisations in the years to come.
Remote service agents with the right tools and secure systems will be able to deliver amazing experiences to audiences no matter what issues may happen in the world around them. Companies could even create a “follow the sun” approach to supporting clients that allows someone to always be available when customers are in need.
There’s no arguing with the fact that customer experience is constantly changing and transforming. Now more than ever, companies are under increased pressure to deliver the kind of unforgettable experiences that delight and entrance their clients. How will you get ahead in 2021?