We are going to learn about customer experience trends but before we get on the pedestal here are some insights to know as a preparation before we stride. A lot has changed - and not changed -with respect to customer experience in the first three quarters of 2020:
One - COVID-19 has accelerated the emphasis on digital experience and contactless service (for obvious reasons).
Two - care-led innovation has given rise to a sleuth of intelligent products and 'smart' services (think: healthcare robots, telehealth services, biometric login, etc.) across sectors and industries that are empowering customers to self-serve and resolve issues instantly and effectively.
Three - brands are being compelled to revisit their digital customer service strategy to see how they should proceed and analyze the extent of digitalization they should undergo to keep up with the evolving customer experience trends going forward in 2021.
As we enter the last quarter, let's look at what's new in customer experience and understand the business strategies that will set the base for customer experience trends and technology in 2021. Here's a quick roundup for your reference.
"70% of hotels already are or are planning to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, concierge services and more." - Global Oracle and Skift Study
Contactless payment options. Self-service check-in kiosks. Digital menus being accessed with QR codes.
The future of customer experience trends is truly going contactless and driving self-help options for customers.
Pandemic or no pandemic, there's an increasing need to develop self-service portals and contactless experiences - complete with all the required integrations - so that the customers can breathe easy and truly enjoy the experience without any worry or health concerns at the back of their minds. The real question remains:
Whether brands have the appetite to invest in technologies and tools that enable contactless, self-service functionalities. At this point, our guess is as good as yours.
There are numerous trends and one of the digital customer experience trends that's gaining momentum is the dynamic shift towards offering 'proactive' support through the use of intuitive tools such as live chat and co-browsing.
Take a look at Skoda's digital showroom, which allows customers to view cars 'live' and talk to agents via video chat and live chat functionalities:
Skoda ended up receiving "48% test drive requests, 10% real car sales, and 2000 overall live tours."
Both these tools keep customer-centric needs at its core and offer 24x7 guided help in the form of text- and image-based interactions (for live chat) and visual cues (for co-browsing as shown below):
Unless you've been actively ignoring the news, you'll know that video-conferencing tools such as Zoom and Google Hangouts are exploding. Consider the following mind-blowing numbers:
According to a CCW Digital Market Study:
Around respondents (65.79%) claim that increased use of collaboration tools such as Zoom, Slack, etc. and an increased emphasis on digital channels (52.63%) are the two factors that are positively impacting their customer contact performance.
Clearly, remote work is taking on a new meaning with the emergence of digital tools and technologies that are facilitating greater collaboration and enhanced productivity. This trend is likely to stay going forward in 2021.
The global telemedicine market is slated to reach USD 185.66 bn by 2026.
Telehealth and virtual care were once considered an impossibility. However, the onset of the pandemic has fast-tracked the adoption of telemedicine with patients ready to embrace remote prescriptions and guidance from doctors.
In fact, data suggests that a staggering "83% of patients expect to use telemedicine even post the pandemic."
Even in telehealth, the quality and seamlessness of healthcare service provided drives patient loyalty. Hence, in 2021, telehealth will continue to rise, with the industry seeing greater investments in customer-centric designs and models that enable a seamless patient-doctor experience across digital and physical channels.
There's no doubt that COVID-19 has forced businesses to go online and reach their customers via web portals.
In the coming year, businesses will need to continue delivering customer-centered messaging about how the brands will function in the post-COVID world (as it does during the COVID era). Take DSW's website messaging, for example:
It is only with greater visibility and transparency that brands can hope to keep their customer's (in them) trust intact. Whether it is ecommerce retailers, healthcare providers, or grocery stores, their online customer experience will need to be bigger, better, and seamless, to say the least.
Building a customer relationship has been every brand's true north in 2020 and will continue to be so even in 2021. In fact, customers today don't simply focus on the products and features; they also focus on how brands respond to real-life situations, customers, etc. from an emotional standpoint.
They want to understand your brand's ethos and core values. They wish to focus on how brands conduct their business and what social causes they stand up for. Increasingly, brands are being evaluated not on a 'product' scale but on a human-emotions scale.
Here are two examples of brands demonstrating empathy in one way or another during the ongoing crisis that left customers impressed:
Omnichannel delivery aims at offering a uniform, seamless, real-time, and consistent experience across various touchpoints in the customer's journey - be it physical or digital.
The 'always-on' customer of today uses multiple channels and platforms to reach your brand - from social media and website to apps and physical stores.
This is why brands need to first single out the ideal platforms where most of their customers are and use an analytics tool to engage in predictive analytics, which helps understand how the customers are reaching the brand and allows the brand to get 360-degree insight into the customer's pain-points, likes, preferences, etc.
Using this kind of invaluable data can improve your conversion rates and allow you to personalize your customer experience.
"86% of consumers prefer brands that are honest." - Sprout Social
One of the biggest concerns among customers in the digital age relates to data security and privacy (rightly so).
In fact, according to Forbes:"86% of consumers think that the companies they do business with could do more to protect them from fraud."
In the first half of 2020, phishing email attacks spiked to 667%, and coronavirus-related email attacks were almost an everyday occurrence.
Customer data security has always been pivotal in driving customer trust, which is why brands will need to invest in establishing rock-solid security measures, which include customer data protection and encryption, personalization, etc.
"By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human." - Gartner
Since businesses are moving online, so are customer queries and emails. CX teams are constantly burdened with an overwhelming number of customer inquiries. This is where chatbots can help. These automated virtual assistants offer 24x7 support in real-time. They can address basic routine and repetitive questions, thereby freeing your live agents valuable time, which can be spent looking after disgruntled customers and addressing their pain-points. Moreover, according to the MIT Review:
"90% of businesses reported faster complaint resolution with bots."
Long story short, chatbots are the future, and the future is now.
Building a brand community is the number one CX strategy today. Some of the most successful brands attribute an active and engaged community to be one of their biggest assets.
If you wish to gain long-term loyal customers, you need to engage your customers beyond the product/service being sold. Apple's support community is an interesting case in point:
Brand communities offer a number of wide-ranging benefits for both the brand as well as the user, such as:
Needless to say, brand communities boost user satisfaction and help turn customers into self-confessed brand advocates as the customers truly believe in the brand's values and view themselves as an extended part of the 'brand's family.' A sense of belonging can do wonders for your brand's goodwill.
Digital innovation is going to play a key role in driving a seamless CX. By using futuristic technologies such as Augmented Reality or AR, brands can integrate and overlap digital elements onto the customer's physical space to help them visualize the product without actually visiting the store in-person. Take the example of IKEA's AR app - IKEA Place:
The app allows a customer to visualize IKEA's products in real-time by rendering true-to-scale 3D images:
Basically, customers get a glimpse of how the furniture will look in their homes. Its true beauty lies in the fact that customers can scale products based on room dimensions with 98% accuracy.
AR to help customers envision how a piece of furniture will look inside their homes. Here's how the process works:
One of the biggest advantages of using AR technology, such as this, is the unparalleled convenience customers get. By shopping in the comfort of their homes, that too, at the click of a button, the overall customer experience is enhanced, and the churn rate reduces since customers end up happier with their purchase.
A responsive mobile design lays the foundation for a stellar customer experience in today's mobile-first economy.
In fact, as per Statista, the number of mobile phone users currently stands at 14.02 billion, and this number is only going to grow in the next four years:
Needless to say, if you wish to tap into a more global audience, building a mobile-optimized version of your website/app should be a priority.
Wrapping Up: CX Trends 2021
Going forward in 2021, brands will need to integrate creative, care-led digital strategies to keep pace with customer experience trends.
This will also help brands to win their customer's hearts and minds while staying ahead of the competition. Try these time-tested strategies and give your enterprise a fighting chance.
Think we've missed out on any CX trends that hold potential, according to you? Share your thoughts below, and let's get the discussion going.
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