5 Key 2021 Mid-Year CX Trends to Capitalize On
As the summer months roll out, many companies are gearing up for a strong year finish. A growing optimism is being further fueled by the prospect of life returning to some semblance of normal. Normal being the ability to travel again, dine out and interact in person rather than online.
2020 was a watershed year, where some industry sectors suffered acutely under pandemic restrictions and had to find ways to reinvent themselves or go under. For other sectors, it was an unexpected boom where the biggest challenge for companies was managing their exponential growth. For these companies the big growth targets achieved in 2020 have led to another challenge: even bigger targets in 2021. The burning question now is how can these companies hit those growth targets in an increasingly competitive landscape?
In a recent webinar with customer champion Martin Newman, he discussed some key trends emerging in 2021 and a post pandemic world. Martin comments that having a customer centric strategy is not enough. He goes on to state that companies need to go beyond that if they are to capitalise on opportunities and have a strong end to the year.
This post further discusses some of the key trends highlighted by Martin which companies and their leadership should understand. They should also assess how prepared they are to overcome the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities at hand.
Trend 1: Customers are going big, companies need to go bigger with their CX efforts
For the past few years the customer confidence index has reflected a steady increase. Then the pandemic hit and it dropped to a low not seen in the past century. Uncertain about the future, and restricted in their ability to move about (and therefore travel and spend) household savings soared. But with restrictions now easing, and vaccination rollouts giving people a level of confidence to move about again, consumer confidence is rapidly rising.
People have money to spend and are eager to get out and experience the world again. For example, one of the most expensive luxurious world cruises sold out within days of bookings opening. Some have labelled this trend: revenge spending; where people are more likely to splurge on the first big ticket purchase that attracts their attention and makes them feel better about life.
How can companies capitalize on this trend? By being where customers are and making the customer experience (CX) as effortless as possible to earn their business.
The exponential adoption of e-commerce has become firmly entrenched in customer behavior, which means optimizing digital CX is critical if companies want to remain competitive. Companies need to work harder to serve up relevant information and make the customer journey as frictionless as possible.
Trend 2: Sell less, serve more, make it all about the experience
The ability to differentiate products in the marketplace is diminishing. What is making an impact with customers is the level of service that they experience. In almost every industry sector, customers are looking for benefits - what makes their lives easier and saves them time and effort.
Some may say that customer expectations are high. But in reality, they just want companies to deliver on their promises. Surveys reflect that customers are wowed when things happen like clockwork - like they’re supposed to. No mess, no fuss, just an effortless delivery of a great customer experience. Customers are left wondering: could it really be that easy?
For companies to deliver on customer expectations requires being in tune with what customers want. Having the voice of the customer (VoC) factor into every element of optimizing the customer journey and recognising that customers are unique and have different expectations.
To meet these varying expectations means having the ability to experiment with lots of ideas at greater speed and scale - something that artificial intelligence (AI) is ideally suited to.
Trend 3: Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to earn trust
Despite the trend of greater e-commerce adoption, customers are weary of simply granting trust to any company. Marketing promises don’t mean much unless they’re backed up by experiences that demonstrate the company is invested in consistently delivering value to each customer. This means that every customer touchpoint and interaction is an opportunity to build or strengthen that trust. There are a number of different ways that this can be achieved:
- Optimizing digital CX to serve up relevant information, every time communicates to customers that you understand what they’re looking for and committed to keeping pace with changing needs and expectations.
- Highlighting return policies and warranties, for example: a 100 day money back guarantee in online shopping, can reduce buyer anxiety and risk. Finding ways to eliminate friction in the customer journey helps to build trust in this way.
- If every channel communicates a different brand message in a different way, it can cause confusion and reduce trust. While different channels may require a different approach to optimisation, creating consistent brand experiences across all platforms and channels works to elevate consumer confidence and helps earn trust.
Trend 4: Understand what customers value
The companies experiencing continued year on year growth are not necessarily the big brands, it’s the companies focused on delivering exceptional CX. They are heavily invested in understanding what is important to customers and being proactive about delivering on expectations. Rather than having large marketing departments, they have large engineering, logistics and user experience (UX) departments that work tirelessly to deliver great CX. They increasingly are targeting personalised experiences rather than a one size fits all approach.
Trend 5: Think ahead about what’s next?
The marketplace has never been static, but the pace at which change is taking place today has accelerated significantly. Thinking ahead and anticipating customer needs is what makes a company a market leader. Apple, Amazon and Tesla have employed this strategy for years with great success. They’re able to do this because they’re all customer obsessed and invested in leveraging technology to be able to deliver a CX that redefines what customers expect. Using AI to discover customer insights and optimize CX in real-time gives companies the opportunity to think ahead and anticipate what customers may want or need next.