As we continue to navigate the new normal shaped by the social and economic upheaval of the last few years, customer expectations have shifted, permanently. More than ever, the quality of experience companies can deliver for customers will depend on their ability to not just maintain, but to level up their digital capabilities. Companies face this challenge against a backdrop of rising inflation and ongoing technology talent shortages – obstacles that could hinder their ability to continue to innovate. For these reasons, an increasing number of organizations are looking to partnerships and integrations to help enhance their digital customer engagement platforms.
Over the last few years, any organization that had not fully transitioned to an omni-channel approach was forced to do so. With that shift, operations and CX teams have had to quickly adopt new technologies and accelerate digital transformation to deliver on customer expectations. Organizations that have been able to effectively navigate this change were not necessarily those with the biggest balance sheets, but those that stayed in tune with their customers and were able to meet them where they are. Maintaining a great digital customer experience has become an absolute necessity for companies that hope not only to survive, but to thrive for the long term.
THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
In a 2020 study, McKinsey called for Customer Experience leaders to position their organizations at the forefront of a longer-term shift in consumer behavior. This, they argued, was due in part to both the “immediate and lingering effect” that crises have had on consumers’ sense of trust and loyalty. In short, they predicted, a company’s customer experience during the pandemic had a high likelihood of affecting their brand image in consumers’ minds post-pandemic.
McKinsey’s prediction seems to have indeed come true. According to Forrester, 55% of customer service teams have reported an increased customer preference for interacting over digital channels versus brick and mortar. Customers are more comfortable than ever conducting business across various channels – whether via websites, mobile apps, text or in person. In this environment, it stands to reason that the ability to create and sustain seamless customer service experiences has never been more critical to a company’s success.
TAPPING INTO PARTNERSHIPS AND OUTSIDE EXPERTISE
In 2023, for many organizations, the key to offering the kind of full-service experience customers expect will be the ability to leverage outside expertise and partnerships rather than trying to innovate all by themselves. Automation and personalization through APIs and integrations with third-party providers will play an outsized role in boosting the bottom line, as consumers become increasingly comfortable with the idea of point-of-purchase add-ons.
Our own research has shown that offering support and protection products at the point of purchase increases purchase intent by up to 32%, helping organizations generate more digital sales, whether through APIs, customized microsites, or directly embedded into websites. That means these types of experiences can not only help retain customers but can be growth drivers.
At the end of the day, customer listening, and friendliness will be required in an environment where organizations are resource-constrained and face rising costs. Companies that are unable to adapt to constantly shifting customer preferences are likely to be left behind, while those that remain agile and deliver more satisfying experiences by leveraging the power of technology integrations will have a leg-up in building deeper customer relationships and engendering loyalty – no matter what the future holds.