Make a Customer, Not a Sale: Customer Experience in 2021…

Let’s face it, the start of the new decade has been a bit bumpy hasn’t it? The stress, anxiety & uncertainty of events in 2020 have forced a heavy & transformative hand on many industries & business functions, not least the customer experience space.

Customer experience focused teams (including IT, operations & marketing teams who manage the customer journey) all over the world were asked to do more with less, while growing numbers of customers had more questions than ever.

Strapped for time & resources, customer centric teams have had little choice but to adapt, transform at pace, re-evaluate previous working procedures, & reimagine what a successful ‘experience’ looks like – luckily most have risen to the challenge.

As the year draws to an end & we look ahead towards 2021 with a degree of both trepidation & hope, here are five areas to keep your eye on in the customer experience space in the New Year.

Insight driven strategies & actions: connected enterprises harness data analytics to generate actionable insights. They are equipped to develop a real-time, multi-dimensional view of their customers, allowing them to shape meaningful & effective customer strategies & a personalised approach to executing them. Use more analytic insights to make integrated customer experience focused decisions in 2021 will be key.

Responsive operations & agile supply chain: connected, digital-first enterprises know they must have the right operational practices & supply chain operations in place if they are to actually execute on their promises to customers. Being able to operate with the efficiency & agility to fulfil customer requests against consistently evolving customer expectations (in a consistent & profitable way) is going to be paramount to success in 2021.

Digitally enabled technology architecture: connected enterprises have the ability to architect, engineer, enable & operate intelligent digital services, technologies & platforms to deliver on their customer promise in an agile, cost-effective and scalable manner. This flexible & agile technology approach, however, flows in two directions. In 2021 expect more organisations to develop secure, scalable & cost-effective solutions that not only support customer experience goals, but also support, enable & empower their employees & partners too.

Online will remain popular: the pandemic has certainly amplified & accelerated the move towards ecommerce. With most businesses closing their physical doors (at least temporarily) during the global pandemic, consumers were forced to shift online, resulting in a boom in online orders & an explosion of net new customers amongst the +65-age group who had historically been least likely to shop online or order for delivery.  

The use of chatbots & social media has become pivotal in 2020 too. With more consumers expected to use social media platforms, webchat, messenger apps & SMS chat as their main means of communicating with brands, customer experience teams need to have the correct tools in place to manage this shift in 2021.

Trust & ethics score big: while trust underpins the commercial pulse between customers & brands, integrity & trust are intrinsically linked. Integrity is how the organisation thinks & behaves, & trust is the outcome gained as a result from its customers.

During lockdown, consumers have become more aware of environmental & corporate behaviours. They are more questioning about how brands behave when it comes to the environment & how they recognise their social obligation to customers & employees too – expect this trend to really ramp up as we head towards COP26[1] in the UK next year.

The pandemic has significantly altered consumer behaviour over the last 12 months & these shifts have in turn produced knock-on effects to the ways that organisations have had to pivot & operate in 2020.

As customer experience takes on an increasingly vital role for brands in 2021, having agile & scalable technology & tools in place across the organisation, will go a long way to helping teams manage these long-term changes & challenges.

While there is no silver bullet for achieving customer experience nirvana in the New Year, organisations that employ technology which allows for collaboration between remote team members; provides customer experience teams with the freedom & visibility to move between channels; & brings to bear all the weight of data about a customer into one place, will be best placed to deliver a more efficient, personalised, joined-up & empathetic experiences in the New Year.

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