If there’s one business learning to take away from Covid-19, it is this: Customer experience is the heart, soul, and backbone of your business. In fact, CX is fast-emerging as the new marketing battlefront. According to a survey by Gartner, “81% of marketers say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.”
This compels you to think: “Why are businesses embracing CX strategies to drive their business goals, sales, and user satisfaction? The data tells it all:
- Increased revenues and performance: “Companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80%.”
- An important metric for customers: “96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.”
Clearly, CX is here to stay, which brings us to the next question: What will it take to become a customer experience champion going forward in 2021? Let’s explore below.
Top-6 Customer Experience Trends to Watch Out For in 2021
1. Video Chat Software will Continue to Play a Central Role in Customer Support Communication
It’s all about instant communication today. The rapid explosion of text mediums such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. is proof enough. In fact, online shopping is now the norm, with customers getting used to newer technologies every single day.
But how do brands fit into this ‘instant’ picture? How can they engage users in a qualitative manner, albeit virtually? We have three words for you: video chat software. First things first, it is important to know that video chat is not just about video conferencing. If used correctly, it can increase revenues and sales.
You can think of video chat as using Facebook’s live streaming services. Customers get the same in-person experience that they would at a store, the only difference being that now they can get closer to your brand from the comfort of their homes.
Here’s a real-life example that’ll leave you inspired:
- Molbak’s Garden + Home’s “Live Gardening Tutorials Series” boasts of 17K viewers over 9 sessions on Facebook:
Pandemic or not, customers love consuming “How-to” type videos and tutorials, especially animated explainer ones. Brands can use the video chat software route to recreate the in-store experience online. Plus, they can leverage a host of benefits and use cases such as:
- Connect with users on-the-go and instantly.
- Demonstrate products/services and enhance the user experience in real-time.
- Collaborate better and increase the productivity of remote teams. This, in turn, enhances user experience.
- Conduct live walkthroughs (especially useful for automobile companies) and allow users to experience the brand up, close, and personal from a distance.
- Provide personalized video support where every customer is seen (quite literally), and every query is heard.
2. More Companies will Invest in Augmented Reality to Amaze Their Customers
If there’s one technology that’s truly representative of the future, it is Augmented Reality. AR replicates real-world scenarios in a 3D format – complete with accurate information (in the form of text-based content) and visuals (think: media files). This technology is particularly finding feet in applications such as product demonstrations and customer support.
In fact, many established brands, such as Nike, are already using this technology to enable virtual ‘try-on’ experiences. Take a look below:
Nike’s in-house app makes use of AR technology to correctly size up your feet and sell you the most accurate sneakers. As you can imagine, this takes care of the common pain-points and eliminates any guesswork involved when buying shoes online!
Moreover, with 5G technology soon becoming a reality, brands will need to jump onto the AR bandwagon. If you’re not sure about where or how to begin, start by experimenting with an AR app to get the real-world look-and-feel.
3. The Self-Service Option is Here to Stay for Real-Time Query Resolution
Did you know that customers actively prefer being provided self-help options to resolve their issues? This makes sense as resolving the issue quickly is literally in their hands. Moreover, people like to be in charge of their problems as well as decisions. So why not make the best use of this feature and enhance your customer satisfaction?
Brands should look at building rich knowledge bases on various platforms (Think: your YouTube channel, website, etc.) that come armed with how-to videos, FAQs, useful masterclasses, etc. as Sephora does:
Sephora’s YouTube page comes power-packed with useful tips, hacks, and user-centric information. – Image SourceImage Source
The brand also makes excellent use of chatbot technology to empower users to virtually try on products and engage in a seamless and convenient buying experience online:
The end-goal is to address customer issues as seamlessly and instantly as possible. What’s more, it also helps lessen your employee’s workload by ‘taking over’ some of the routine tasks and reducing some of the customer-facing pain-points they face on a daily basis. Long story short, in 2021, brands will need to push the envelope and go the extra mile to offer preemptive support to users in the form of innovative self-service options.
4. IoT Devices will Fuel CX in 2021
Did you know that according to research, around “80% of retailers will use IoT to customize the in-store experience by 2021?”
Clearly, the IoT era is upon us, and it brings with itself richer interconnection and the increased use of connected devices such as smart TVs, appliances, cars, etc. to deliver a hyper-connected and personalized user experience. From the customer experience viewpoint, retailers can make use of ‘micro-locating’ to gather critical user data with greater accuracy and leverage actionable insights. In fact, recent data also predicts that retailers are increasingly investing in mobile devices, kiosks, and tablets to fast-track checkout lines and offer more number of online payment options to the users. The research further suggests that:
“87% of retailers will deploy mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) devices by 2021, enabling them to scan and accept credit or debit payments anywhere in the store.”
5. CX in 2021 will be More About Customer Relationship Than Transactions
The smart customer of today is not simply interested in connecting with your brand on a superficial, transactional level. They wish to understand how empathetic your brand truly is. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that brands are being evaluated on a human scale now more than ever.
Today, it’s important for a brand to address the following questions in order to connect with users on a deeper, more intimate level:
- How do you wish to foster a relationship with the customer?
- What will your corporate culture look like in 2021? Is it still relevant to today’s changing times?
- How can your brand demonstrate thankfulness, care, and empathy for its existing and new users?
- Does your company truly embrace a customer-centric approach in its offering, marketing strategy, after-sales services, etc.?
All things said and done, the trick lies in offering customized, granular level support to every customer at scale.
6. Omnichannel Experience will be Taking Central Stage in 2021
Omnichannel customer experience involves delivering a cohesive, consistent, scalable, and real-time service to users across various offline and online touchpoints and platforms in a customer’s lifecycle – from your brand website and social media to your mobile app and physical store.
Going forward, this trend is going to gain momentum, which is why brands need to invest in a robust CMS software that empowers their omnichannel strategy and allows them to monitor how their customers are faring along the CX journey.
In essence, if you’re still following the multi-channel CX approach, it’s time to shift gears and go omnichannel all the way. This translates to establishing metrics and protocols that can analyze user needs from a 360-degree perspective and deliver hyper-personalized experiences (based on those needs) to drive customer loyalty.
Take, for instance, Starbucks, which takes its omnichannel delivery seriously. The Starbucks rewards app allows users to check and reload their cards across platforms such as smartphones, websites, apps, etc. All changes are updated in real-time and across channels:
By allowing customers to instantly pay for their orders at the click of a button, the brand paves the way for increased customer satisfaction.
Closing Thoughts: The Writing is on the Wall
Redefining your customer experience doesn’t need to be an uphill battle. With a customer-focused mindset and the use of appropriate, user-friendly strategies, you can enjoy a host of advantages.
While it’s easy to overlook the value addition that CX brings to the table, creating a rock-solid CX strategy can boost your ROI, enhance customer happiness, and foster brand loyalty.
To wrap up, here are the top-6 trends that are going to redefine customer experience in 2021:
- Video chat software will play a central role in customer support communication
- More companies will invest in Augmented Reality (AR) to wow their customers
- The self-service option will keep gaining traction for real-time query resolution
- IoT devices will fuel CX in 2021
- CX in 2021 will be more about customer relationship than transactions
- The omnichannel experience will be taking center stage in 2021
Are you ready to let 2021 be the pivotal year for your CX operations? We thought so.