2021 Needs to be the Year of the Customer


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In an earlier blog, I talked about the opportunity that CX leaders have to redefine their teams in a way that works for customers and the bottom line by embracing automation. While making predictions in the wake of 2020 seems risky at best, there are some lessons learned from our pandemic year that can be applied to the remainder of 2021.

The shift to digital consumption in 2020 caught many businesses flat footed, but there’s no going back now. All of us are now used to having everything be a simple click a way, and businesses need to understand that we expect them to communicate early, often and in a personalized way. Drawing from the 1.5 billion customer interactions facilitated by Ada in 2020, we identified the top 5 trends for 2021 that will inform the way businesses prioritize customer needs and interests.

1. Because companies are not taking a holistic approach to CX, what customers typically experience are disjointed, frustrating interactions with brands. What customers really care about, though, is the totality of the experience – the sum of the parts. They want to feel valued, and they want interactions with brands to be frictionless and meaningful, especially digitally – on phones, on social, through text messaging and in-app. Top brands are breaking up siloed departments to build out cross-functional task forces. 2021 will be the year the customer experience is finally consolidated.

2. In the past, growing businesses have participated in a bizarre trend – trying to have fewer conversations with their customers. These conversations were viewed as costly and companies went to extreme lengths to create complicated experiences that actually discouraged their customers from talking to a human. Investments in retaining (and upselling) existing customers pay off with greater dividends than investments made to acquire new customers.

Using customer conversation data in a meaningful way will become a top priority for CX teams. As automation and AI make high volumes of quality customer conversations possible, companies will now come to see these interactions as sought after data points instead of burdensome costs. In 2021, companies will leverage AI not only to drive more conversations, but more valuable conversations.

3. Forrester predicts that customers who used digital channels for the first time during the pandemic will continue to do so — and drive a 40% increase in the volume of digital customer interactions! Today, consumer and business buyers alike engage on social; seeking effortless, personal conversations with companies on the channels of their choice. More channels – think Facebook, mobile, Twitter, Whatsapp, website – mean more opportunities to increase conversations with customers. As companies start to enjoy the boost in customer engagement across new channels, they’ll want more. In 2021, digital conversations will happen with ease, across multiple channels.

4. Insights just waiting to be uncovered from higher customer engagement will incentivize companies to reach out proactively with automated, personalized messaging. Unified CX teams will prioritize taking customer conversations from reactive to proactive. The businesses that adopt not only proactive, but personalized messaging will win in 2021 – from higher customer engagement, deeper customer insights, and a differentiated customer experience.

5. As technology advances, customers expect efficiency to improve alongside it. Phone channels are currently a CX organization’s worst nightmare – costly to operate and almost impossible to manage with consistency. Not to mention the frustration customers experience trying to have their needs met, often having to battle language barriers and conversations without any context whatsoever. Social messaging channels will continue to rise in popularity in 2021. Communicating with customers asynchronously in the channels they’re already using for personal interactions will be a priority for any organization looking to keep pace with customer expectations, and 2021 will finally be the year where we no longer expect to have to wait on hold.

Companies are looking for smart, custom solutions to create consistent experiences that match their customers growing expectations. During this new digital age and beyond, creating personalized, AI-driven customer journeys enables organizations to reach every customer cost-efficiently, while still giving them the experiences they crave.

Mike Murchison
Mike Murchison, one of Forbes’ Top 30 under 30, is the CEO and Cofounder of Ada, a venture-backed AI-powered platform that is transforming how businesses around the world, including TELUS, Upwork, and AirAsia, provide customer service. Before Ada, Mike answered tens of thousands of customer service inquiries manually firsthand. Using this experience, he set out to build Ada’s platform that puts the benefits of AI into the hands of non-technical support teams to build, manage, and track ROI-driving automated customer experiences.


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