Well, 2020 has certainly been a year of surprises so, it’s with some trepidation, that we consider the possibility of predicting anything of what 2021 has in store for us. But with a positive mindset in place let’s give it a try.
Whilst our primary hope of course is for a year where we are all afforded more certainty around our health, our freedom and our business security it is customary for the Fresh Nous team to look ahead and ponder what Customer Experiences will look like for the year ahead.
Uncovering the mystery of Customer Experience
Despite the phrase ‘customer experience’ feeling like part of the furniture to those of us in the industry it’s surprising how little about it is understood by those who are not in the marketing or customer service world. We need to educate the business world about what Customer Experience really means and how it how can be transformative in every industry.
Time and time again I come up against people saying, “Customer Experience” when they actually mean “Customer Service.” Or seeing it as something internal that is remedied by training or employee engagement alone.
It is still the case that a remarkably small percentage of major organisations have an appointed Customer Experience leader within their business. Forbes reported that 64% of companies with a customer-focused CEO believe they are more profitable than their competitors. Without someone dedicated to cross-organisational customer experience focus, who is part of, or has the ear of, the senior leadership team the uphill battle of establishing and embedding CX programmes will continue.
Aside from dedicated resource, the requirement for allocated budget and education programmes is an absolute requisite for success in CX. The investment will pay for itself too. RightNow found that 86% of consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience and Dimension Data’s research shows that, in recent years, 84% of organisations working to improve customer experience report an increase in revenue.
Education programmes focussed on CX have, along with so many education and training programmes, been heavily hit by the turbulence of 2020 the need that many organisations have around turning CX into practical actions in their businesses (like organisational change and CX strategy) is something that will continue to require education as we head into 2021 and beyond.
Vital role of customer experience.
Consumers are looking beyond price and availability with their values and decision making now favouring factors such as sustainability, supporting local and social impact of their behaviour and the organisations they engage with.
In their recent study Ernst and Young identified a future segment of consumers who’ll put ‘Experience First’ These consumers will try new brands, favour those who deliver a personalised experience and align themselves to organisations who demonstrably share their values.
In other words, customer experience will play an increasingly important role in purchasing decisions in 2021.
Despite the challenges we’ve all faced this year and those to follow for many organisations into 2021 this is the time not consciously take the eye off the ball and stick close to your customers (2 metres kind of close) and be guided by what matters to them.
So, what’s in store for CX in 2021?
Here’s our thoughts about the 4 big CX trends for 2021
- Channel is key
Omnichannel is where it’s at. The newly recognised ‘everything customer’ expects more than a good experience via digital channels and offline but instead, want to move seamlessly between channels.
The vast majority of customers preferred to use different channels depending on the context of their interaction so expect that the same customer could approach you on a range of channels over time.
- Websites are big news again
With so much more online shopping, including many new users who turned online during lockdown, your website user experience is now an absolutely critical element of your CX arsenal. Help users feel special with personalised interactions and keep checkouts simple with limited clicks to purchase completion.
- Build on the few gifts from 2020
Contactless and self-service which, up to this year, were often viewed, either cynically as mechanisms to reduce headcount, or coldly with their minimal human interaction have come into their own this year as we all try to reduce contact. Whilst we all hope 2021 will be a year where human contact can again become part of our day-to-day, we now have the opportunity to embrace tools like menus by QR code and self-service checkouts. Can we seize the chance to make these personalised and tailored experiences that serve to positive enforce our brand messages?
- Relationships are everything
2020 has been difficult, divisive and isolating for people and organisations alike and we think there will be very few people who won’t be pleased to year Big Ben chime in the new year in a few weeks. Whilst we look forward to the hugs, the checkouts without plastic dividers and the board meetings that we never thought we could miss we must not forget what we’ve learnt this year or how our customers have changed. Invest in CX education, budget for tech that supports digital and contactless experiences but, most importantly, focus on relationships with your customers and your teams and respond to the individual challenges and changes that lay before us all.
Having lived through the challenges that 2020 has thrown our way now is the time to regroup, celebrate success (even if all that’s meant is survival) and put all we’ve learnt into actions which bring us closer to our customers over the next 12 months.
Before you end that last video call, close the laptop and make the long commute from dining room, bedroom or, for the lucky ones, home office back to the lounge, pause and consider how you’ll build the lessons from this weird and wonderful year into your future CX strategy.