Customer Experience is More Important than Ever


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Last week we published eight Customer Experience Trends to look out for in 2021. Today we are diving deeper into the first one: Customer Experience is more important than ever to consumers. 

Post-COVID Customer Experience

Before Covid19, Customer Experience was important, but it was stuck in the “nice to have” category. Consumers expected exceptional Customer Experience mostly from brands that were “cool” and were claiming to be innovators.

In other words, American Airlines could sit on a panel with me, the JetBlue Airlines speaker, and say “We are not really investing in Customer Experience per se. We are focused on operational reliability.” Today, if American Airlines says that on stage, they will be on the news tomorrow. And not in a good way.

Invest Impactfully in Customer Experience

As we enter 2021, a meaningful investment in the customer (whether that is your student, buyer, patient or traveler), will be as important for your survival as an investment in your operational efficiency.

In 2018 PWC published a great report “Experience is everything”. In it they shared that great experience drives 16% price premium on products and services. It also drives higher loyalty, and 63% more willingness to share more information. Really, it does not get any better than that!

In 2021, on top of this great business case, we have the pure survival argument. Some business models are simply not going to make it. Educators must learn how to teach on Zoom and other platforms, whether they like it or not. Healthcare executives need to figure out how to actually implement telehealth in their patient experience. Event planners will have to (finally!) apply facial recognition, wayfinding, and real apps in their experience. Bear in mind, an app that has a static map of a venue is not a real app. And last but not least, retailers must adapt their business to match new buying behaviors of the consumer in order to maintain profitable operations.

Merge the Digital and Physical

We all have read the articles about the impact of Covid19 on consumer expectations. If we look beyond the consumer for a minute, we have a new challenge as businesses. Now, we are REALLY operating in an omnichannel world. We spent the last ten years in digital transformations. No doubt, that was challenging. That was bad enough. Now, we also have to figure out the seams between the physical and digital experience.

For brands that still have not done much on their digital transformation roadmap (you know who you are), we suggest skipping that phase all together and jumping right into the design of a cross-channel consumer journey.

Engage in Your Customer Support Technology Design

In other words, the chatbots of 2021 need to have contextual awareness. And they need to be able to answer more than 3 pre-loaded user stories. Moreover, as we move into the year that Customer Experience means the most, the chatbot must finally serve as a triage. We can finally make direct calls to level two support when chatbots are unable to help.

In 2021, get your agents engaged in the implementation and use of customer support technology. Then, when a caller finally gets to an agent after after having punched their account number, the agent will not ask THE SAME QUESTION, because “The system does not always ‘hear’ the right numbers.”

Students Think More Like Customers

In 2021, we will have to serve another consumer that many of us did not think much about (or design for) before Covid. The Student.

Students will need self-service apps that keep them informed and engaged in the student experience. Think of it as a digital campus. Be assured, you will never have too much information published on your school/college app.

To make that possible, you need to build and connect the end-to-end student services that make up that experience. This includes registration, billing, advisement, career services, as well as academics, and campus community activities.

Consumerism Has Finally Come to Healthcare

2021 may also be the year when we see the direct-to-consumer (DTC) healthcare model take off. That means patients and employers may finally know how much they are paying for a visit BEFORE it happens.

This kind of information and access along the patient journey revolutionizes the patient experience. And not everyone can deliver it. Additionally, there are more players. 25% of patients have used or are planning to use alternative types of care. Those alternative types of care include urgent care clinics, retail clinics, and skilled nursing facilities, etc. With more entrants in the market and direct relationships with patients, there are myriad possibilities.

2021 Survival Prediction: What is Your Fate if You Have No Customer Experience Plan?

There is no question that 2021 is a new era of Customer Experience. The question is, can you survive it with last year’s customer experience plan.

Let’s take event planners as an example. 2021 will be the year we will find out what event planners will survive Covid. A few months ago the interim President of the Specialty Food Association, Bill Lynch, said on a podcast that the events experience model needs to be redesigned completely with a fresh look from and lessons learned from other industries. We could not agree more.

The visitor and event participant of 2021 does not have entirely new needs. He/she is still going to attend if there is a speedy entrance, convenience and friendliness on site of any event or a concert. In fact, 80% of Americans state these are the most important drivers of positive customer experience.

In other words, you won’t go wrong investing in speed, convenience or hospitality in 2021. However, getting there requires the right “designer” and the right program map for your customer journey and experience.

Are you ready for 2021? We are!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Liliana Petrova
Liliana Petrova CCXP pioneered a new customer-centric culture that energized more than 15,000 JetBlue employees. Future Travel Experience & Popular Science awarded her for her JFK Lobby redesign & facial recognition program. Committed to creating seamless experiences for customers and greater value for brands, she founded The Petrova Experience, an international customer experience consulting firm that helps brands improve CX. To elevate the industry, she launched a membership program to help CX professionals grow their careers. Ms Petrova lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.


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