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21 CX Predictions For 2021

2020 was a year that left brands and businesses scrambling to adapt to rapid changes while still providing an excellent customer experience. What once was a novelty, like curbside pickup or contactless payment, is now necessary for survival. The tech that seemed nice-to-have is now required. Pivoting and shifting are required for sustainability.

So where does that leave businesses and consumers in the new year? Here are 21 CX predictions for 2021, informed by some of the top experts of customer experience.

Employee experience drives customer experience, because regardless of what your product is, your employees are the ones who are delivering it

  1. Brands will invest in research to learn more about the 2021 buyer. Data held on customers’ needs and motivations changed quickly in 2020, though the data gleaned in the 2020 shifts may no longer be relevant to 2021 consumers.
  2. …Which leads to the review of the customer journey. So many of 2019’s familiar and comfortable customer experiences were upheaved in 2020. Where 2020 was a year of survival, 2021’s CX approach to the customer journey will be reviewed and reconfigured.
  3. No longer can marketing, customer service, and sales teams work separately. In 2021, silos will continue to disappear and CX teams will include members from all departments.
  4. Contact centers will continue to play a crucial role in first-response customer experiences; information gleaned in these interactions will help train chatbots to perform as much basic level assistance as possible before including a human representative.
  5. Because of this, previous front-line employees will be given more opportunities to make business-related decisions in the moment for CX.
  6. 2021 brings forth a focus on customer loyalty. Supply chain issues are just one reason consumers were forced to try new products in 2020. This year, brands will be trying to keep new buyers—or earn them back.
  7. Consumers will gravitate toward brands that prioritize employee and customer health and safety by creating more options for contactless purchase, pick up, and delivery.
  8. Organizations will begin to move away from touch-based systems, like screens and keys, and instead invest in zero-UI technology, according to David Truog, VP, Research Director, at Forrester.
  9. With the onboarding of new retail positions, such as internet order pickers or BOPIS order runners, employee job-related training is key to maintaining brand and consumer standards. Employees filled these roles due to dire need in 2020, and consumers may have forgiven troubling experiences with the understanding that brands were doing their best to keep up. But 2021 is a new year, and consumers may be less forgiving.
  10. Similarly, for brands investing in CX tech, staff training is paramount to seeing a return on investment. Employees who don’t understand the systems won’t be able to utilize them to their full potential.
  11. Brands will invest in cultural change management to help employees be better representatives of their companies.
  12. Augmented reality will be utilized more by brands as part of their shopping experience options, as in-store shopping remains limited.
  13. Similarly, in-app or social-media purchasing will increase, with brands spending more to advertise via buy-it-now options on social channels like Instagram and Pinterest.
  14. CX will be focused largely on the mobile experience, as consumers are now utilizing their phones to avoid touching in-store screens, checking in to pick up their curbside orders, and more.
  15. Consumers want to work with brands who inspire trust. That’s achieved by showing, not telling. Expect brand promises made during the trying times of 2020 to come to fruition this year.
  16. Brand social media content will be less curated by relying less on influencers and more on real-person experiences and recommendations.
  17. Empathy is also important to consumers. Let’s face it, they never enjoyed feeling like just a number, but with the rise of personalization and the effort to earn loyalty back, consumers will be swayed by well-implemented personalized experiences.                                                         83% of Millennials find it important for the companies they buy from to align with their values
  18. Another reason why loyalty dissolved throughout the pandemic is because consumers began to pay close attention to a brand’s ethics and mission. According to the 2020 5W PR Consumer Culture Report, “83% of Millennials find it important for the companies they buy from to align with their values.”
  19. This also leads to consumers closely watching to see if brands follow through on their inclusion and diversity promises from 2020.
  20. It’s also important that businesses focus on employee engagement as an arm of their CX strategy. In the 2021 Customer Experience Predictions Report by Oracle Customer Experience and CX Network, Ingrid Lindberg, founder and CXO of Chief Customer, says, “Employee experience drives customer experience because regardless of what your product is, your employees are the ones who are delivering it.”
  21. Finally, 2021 will be both a time of invention and actualization, with any investment in CX moving businesses closer to their goals of providing excellent experiences.

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About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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