How to Optimize Customer Experience in 2021

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Customer Experience in 2021

Photo by Unsplash, CC0 1.0

We have entered 2021 and customer experience continues to be on top of mind for marketers.

Around 59% of consumers care more about customer experience Post-Covid while deciding which company or brand to support.

Therefore, companies are planning to double down their budget on customer experience in 2021.

Covid-19 and its effects are reshaping customer behavior. Thus, to optimize customer experience, businesses need to understand which customer trends and patterns will endure over the longer term.

It has become more challenging as technology and social media are evolving rapidly. It implies that businesses need to adapt quickly as consumer expectations change. But, before going into that, let’s understand customer experience optimization.

What Is Customer Experience Optimization?

Customer experience is the quality of interaction between an individual and a brand, a website, its products, services, a message, an email, a notification, or even an individual.

On the other hand, optimization means maintaining the right balance between a customer’s expectations and a brand’s business goals.

Thus, customer experience optimization is the unification of brand identity, across channels, and throughout the entire customer life cycle.

Why Customer Experience Matters?

Customer experience optimization is important for driving revenue and building a reputation that generates new customers.

As per Walker’s report, over 80% of companies who prioritize customer experience report an increase in revenue.

Moreover, as per the Zendesk customer service survey report, around 97% of customers agreed that bad customer service changes buying behavior.

The three main reasons for businesses to invest in customer experience are:

  • To Improve Customer Retention: Even a slight increase of 5% in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits between 25 to 95%. Therefore, investing in your existing customers pays off.
  • To Improve Customer Satisfaction: A satisfied customer contributes 2.6 times of the revenue contributed by a partially satisfied customer and 14 times of the revenue contributed by a dissatisfied customer.
  • To Increase Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Opportunities: There are 50% more chances that an existing customer will try new products. They are also likely to spend 31% more when compared to new customers, which increases cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.

Ways to Optimize Customer Experience in 2021

2020 brought changes to the business world and impacted customer operations and experiences across the board. Next year will undoubtedly bring more developments, and the game-changer will be customer experience.

A report by PWC says, 86% of customers are ready to pay more for an exceptional customer experience.

Therefore, below are the best five ways to optimize and shape customer experience in 2021 and beyond.

1- Use a CRM Software

CRM software enables organizations to get a 360-degree view of their customers. Thus, a brand can use CRM to create highly customized offers based on their interests or purchase history.

As per a report by Gartner, CRM is likely to reach more than $80 billion in revenues by 2025.

Let’s look at how you can use CRM software to improve the experience of your customers.

  • Contact Your Existing Customers: CRM software captures a vast amount of information about your customers, their interaction with your brand, including past activities, conversations, and purchases. Thus, use that data to keep your existing customers updated with company offers, news, sales campaigns, or other initiatives.
  • Listen to Customers’ Needs: You can use the CRM system to access valuable information about your customer habits and preferences, such as the type of emails your customers usually respond to, links they follow, and products they are interested in.
  • Maintain Personal Relationships with Customers: Customers contact you through various channels, such as email, phone, and website. CRM captures all of these conversations regardless of the channel or department. Therefore, you can use this information to give your customer a unique experience by addressing them by their name or knowing exactly what the issue is without having to ask them to repeat themselves.
  • Understand Your Customer: The CRM software helps you understand the problems that your customers already have had before. It also provides information about whether they were happy with the solutions you offered them. Thus, a history of your customer interaction present in a CRM system helps you offer your customers what they really want.

2- Improve IVR Capabilities

The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is usually the first point of contact between your business and customer base. It asks the customer to hit a few keys so that they can be sent to the right department.

By maximizing its efficiency, you can route customers more effectively and also obtain transaction history. Here are a few ways to optimize your IVR system.

  • Identify any gaps and areas of improvement in the IVR script. The script needs to be short and meaningful.
  • Add or remove necessary options when a new product and service is launched or discontinued.
  • Try to keep the menu option under five to ensure that customers do not wait for long to get their queries resolved.
  • Tailor menu options to reduce repetition, minimize internal transfers, and increase first-call resolutions.
  • In a situation where the time to service needs to be fast, it is better to have an IVR design that lets the customer connect to a live agent faster.
  • Make sure that agents have real-time access to information collected through IVR.

3- Strive for Omnichannel Engagement

Companies that adopt an omnichannel strategy see a 9.5% year-over-year growth. Taking an omnichannel approach to provide a positive customer experience and build great relationships means using all the tools available to you to connect with customers. It includes social media, email, text, or website.

It does not only mean putting your marketing campaigns on all your channels but also giving your customers a consistent personalized experience as they interact with your brand on various digital devices.

A recent report by Adobe shows that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies enjoy a 10% Y-O-Y growth, a 10% increase in average order value, and a 25% increase in close rates.

Here are four crucial elements of an omnichannel strategy:

  • Meet your customers on their preferred communication channel.
  • Acknowledge customers based on their past interactions with your brand regardless of the channel they use.
  • Break the silos and operate as a single brand across channels to deliver a consistent omnichannel customer experience.
  • Offer the same level of personalized experience regardless of the channel to make your customers feel valued.

Today’s customer experience platforms support multiple channels of customer engagement, including web, voice, digital, and email.

It supports multiple channels within a single interaction that results in the complete omnichannel customer experience.

4- Improve Customer Experience with AI

Leveraging AI helps brands understand customers and deliver a better customer experience that results in better sales and reduced shopping cart abandonment.

As per Microsoft’s prediction, 95% of customer interactions will be through AI by 2025.

However, the biggest challenge generally faced by brands is handling increased tech support calls, emails, and social media messages.

Thus, brands can use AI to handle low-level support issues in real-time and gather initial information for live agents before any need for intervention. It results in lower wait times and fewer frustrated customers.

Two major trends in AI customer service software that can be used and will continue to grow in 2021 are:

  • Chatbot: A chatbot is a computer program that answers questions in a conversational format. Chatbots connect directly to the knowledge base and respond to customer inquiries instantaneously. As per Juniper Research, consumers and business will save over 2.5 billion customer service hours by 2023.
  • Virtual Assistant: Virtual assistants perform human-like tasks based on voice or written commands. For example, Siri, Alexa, and Google. 5% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants daily by 2021, says Gartner.

5- Prioritize Mobile Customer Experience

Mobile is becoming important every passing year for businesses and consumers. Consumers use their phones as a quick point of reference whenever they need to look something up. Today, most of the purchase decisions begin online.

As per the Stat Counter report, 52% of all internet traffic comes from mobile, with desktop usage on a trending decline.

This also implies that websites that offer better mobile user experience get more priority by customers and thus, experience better ranking on Google.

However, mobile-friendly is not the same as the mobile-first approach. The mobile-first approach means prioritizing mobile-based customer delivery for every aspect of the business, including website design, outreach programs, product design, services, and customer support.

Below are a few steps that you should take to optimize the mobile experience.

  • Check basic performance metrics of your online business, such as mobile friendliness, mobile speed, and desktop speed.
  • Use analytics and conversion tracking across your mobile site or app to monitor user behavior and see where they drop off.
  • Implement new technologies to help make your sites faster, such as Accelerated Mobile Pages or Progressive Web App.

Final Thoughts

There have been rapid advancements and adaptations in AI, data collection, and omnichannel approaches in the last few years. In the future, we are likely to see continuous developments in these areas. Therefore, in the long term, companies should shift to AI and technology that will improve and shape the overall customer experience.

The chances of driving brand loyalty are more if the customer experience is pleasant, smooth, and constantly improving. Ensure that you know your customers’ communication preferences and personalize the conversations and outreach you conduct. To conclude, give your customers the best experience, you need to know them well by improving their customer success levels.

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