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Top 5 Trends That Are Reshaping Customer Experience In 2021 

From small one-man-show local stores to international corporations with thousands of employees, no corner of the business sector has been left untouched by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the separation between losers and winners has never been so apparent. For every business that declares bankruptcy, there’s a competitor that responds quickly to the new normal and reaps the revenue benefits. 

To avoid this, the events of the past year and a half have forced many companies to make radical amendments to their business agendas. Be it a local retailer, a state-wide telecommunication operator, or a banking service provider, reinventing customer experience is perhaps the most critical cornerstone for business success for organizations across most industries. Because the new reality transformed the way people shop, work, rest, and interact with each other, meaning that companies need to either react respectively or get left behind in the race.

Photo from Business 2 Community

According to research by Corinium Intelligence, up to 90% of companies have taken urgent measures to adapt their CX strategies to the new normal and adhere to the emerging customer experience trends. Moreover, one in four claims that they entirely overhauled their approach to customer experience. Forrester analysts forecast that as trends in customer experience gain an increasing amount of attention and will continue to do so in the future, the number of companies that will enhance their CX quality will double compared with the previous two years. It means that companies are ready to abide by strategies for more accelerated business transformation and serve the higher customer experience expectations by adopting new technology to support improvements in operational and customer-facing processes.

And on order to tackle the emerging customer experience trends effectively, business owners and executives need to place the future of CX at the forefront of their business transformation efforts. Luckily, it’s not all chaos. This blog post will review the five most critical customer experience trends to help business leaders keep gaining momentum in 2021 and beyond.

Hybrid Engagement Models And Omnichannel Experience 

For 2021 and beyond, digitalization is foreseen to be the primary technology-driven process that keeps redefining the landscape of customer experience trends. As entrepreneurs have already begun to reimagine the post-pandemic business world, many of them believe that the future of CX will remain predominantly digital.

Nowadays, most businesses focus their efforts on extending their online presence and digitalizing customer experiences by utilizing different tools like applications, messaging platforms, or AI-powered automated chatbots for customer service, and rightfully so. As a matter of fact, in an attempt to adapt to the “new normal,” almost 80% of customers claimed to have increased the volume of digital interactions with the companies in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Nevertheless, this overwhelming increase in digital interactions because of the pandemic doesn’t necessarily imply that the consumers are willing to opt for the absolute digital immersion.

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In fact, a recent study revealed that 67% of consumers still want to speak directly to a human representative at some stage of their customer experience, down from 90% in the pre-Covid era, and most of the polled customers agreed that there will always be cases when agent interaction is essential. These results mean that customers expect a balanced approach moving forward of varied digital experience solutions and real-life human interactions options from which to choose. In order to fulfill the latest customer experience trends, companies need to consider designing an ecosystem of channels and solutions that support customer omnichannel experience and deliver communication across different channels in a unified way.

To address this CX trend, companies need to make sure that their customers are given the option to select their favored communication channel, enrich their omnichannel customer experience strategies by leveraging additional digital touchpoints and technologies like Y Meadows AI-driven customer support automation solution, and design experience pathways so that business-customer communication doesn’t entirely exclude human interaction.

Reshaping The Customer Journey 

As you already know, the pandemic was followed by strict lockdowns in many countries worldwide and affected numerous stages of the customer journeys as we knew them before. Product delivery, sales, marketing, client onboarding, repurchase, customer service, and many other aspects of the entire customer experience have been disrupted for good so that innovative companies needed to find ways and reshape the customer journey to be per the latest customer experience trends. And while some of the recently acquired customer behavior will be here to stay, CX pathways will be in flux in the upcoming years as companies will keep testing new touchpoints and approaches to customer interactions. 

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In a business world where transformation is deemed the new normal, businesses ready to embrace this idea and harness the power of persistent change will get farther than their fierce competitors. For instance, having nimble IT solutions like our AI-powered software may assist thriving companies in achieving just that. In fact, the organizations that had an existing, easily customizable technology already in place before the pandemic were able to gain a competitive edge in times of uncertainty and thrive through the crisis.

To tackle the reshaped customer journey as one of the leading trends in customer experience, you should consider investing a portion of your budget in agile, low-code technology that will allow you to modify your existing customer-facing processes. Moreover, you should continuously test out multiple customer journey workflows to define the best practices for your business and continue to monitor the shifts in customer behaviors to adapt your customer experience strategies accordingly.

Empathy And Emotion Find Themselves At The Heart Of Data-Driven Customer Experience Strategies 

Throughout the years, CX has always been about making customer-brand relationships that are trustful, customer-centric, and value-based. In this day and age, these principles are more important than ever. The times of uncertainty and self-isolation forced people to seek feelings of trust, safety, connection, and security. For this reason, customer empathy and customer intimacy have become the determining elements of the newest customer experience trends for 2021 and beyond. Consequently, organizations that will be able to resonate with their customers will be on the winning side. 

Photo from Zendesk

Developing an adequate strategy to tackle these customer needs and concerns with the utmost precision is one of the most challenging business tasks for leaders in 2021. Companies will demand extra effort into hyper-personalization to address this challenge, making it a core element of their customer experience strategy. With the aid of data-driven insights, intelligent analytics, and customer segmentation, companies should have the ability to pave the path to understanding their clients better and create tailored experiences that anticipate particular reactions and emotions.

Digitalized Self-Service 

The growing workload on call centers and customer support departments in times of the pandemic has forced companies to look for other viable solutions and further automate their customer service operations. During the pandemic, both companies and customers changed their perspective on customer self-service, finding it a truly effective way to solve customer requests and interact. Nowadays, self-service is evidently becoming a far more likable option among consumers, and companies aim to utilize further self-service technology improvements.

According to research by Statista, 88% of all U.S. customers believe that companies need to have an online self-service support portal in place, which means that self-service solutions are swiftly becoming a new necessity for companies rather than a momentary alternative to conventional customer service. Therefore, analysts expect companies to get on this CX trend and have self-service solutions adopted in the forthcoming period to serve different business purposes, including customer request management, issue resolutions, shipment tracking, troubleshooting, customer accounts management, and more. 

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Ranging from self-service portals, applications, automated chatbot solutions, community forums, website solutions, and more, self-service technologies are fit for businesses of any size across nearly all industries. By following this significant customer experience trend, companies can show respect for the consumers’ time while reducing their operating costs simultaneously. In other words, a digitalized customer self-service is a win-win for both companies and customers. Furthermore, when designed and deployed correctly, self-service tools can serve as a user-friendly, convenient, instant support solution that the clients gladly use on a regular basis.

Zero User Interactions 

For human safety reasons, touchless technology will become a more common use case for consumers in 2021 and afterward. Expedited during the Covid-19 crises, this customer experience trend is also foreseen to stay in the post-pandemic world. Nowadays, as customers are turning to zero-touch, screen-less interactions as a more secure option, companies adopting this CX trend put themselves in pole position to gain a competitive edge and take a giant leap towards a more interactive and consistent way to have their customers engage with their business. Intended to provide seamless interactions with technology, “zero user interactions” solutions are the latest trend that will be reshaping customer experience in the upcoming period. 

Otherwise known as Zero UI, gesture-driven and voice-based interaction with devices is an innovation that gains momentum rapidly. From vendors to healthcare providers and financial service providers, these novelties are implemented across multiple industries to redesign and provide a fresh look to CX. Nevertheless, the rise of zero user interaction technologies doesn’t mean that they will entirely substitute screen-based technologies but rather supplement them with additional intelligence and allow for more diverse yet coherent customer experiences

In order to meet this CX trend, consider investing in technology that backs low-touch and no-touch transaction models. Evaluate the areas of your customer journey or customer service where CX can be transformed into gesture-based or voice-based interactions, and implement the solutions that will help you offer these engagement models.

Final Words 

All of the trends mentioned above can be tied into one crucial concept: customer experience is king, and successful companies will continually improve their CX by following the customer experience trends in 2021 and beyond. When one in three customers states that they will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience, and when your rivals are just a click away, your company’s customer experience strategies need to be aligned with the latest customer experience trends in the industry.

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