With the coronavirus pandemic, was 2020 a year of pause, or was it a year of immense acceleration, that changed the dynamics of business overnight? Perhaps, never before businesses felt the need to reform their processes at such short notice, especially in regards to customer experience. Many ‘nice to have privileges’ that service providers used to flaunt as their ‘unique selling offerings’ now have become ‘must-have offerings.’
Digitization has made customers the king by getting them one-click access to information around businesses, services and products. They can now easily compare and make a more relevant choice. This has transformed customers into smart buyers as they have the resources to do their own analysis. A study by the CEB Marketing Leadership Council and Google, a buyer tends to complete 57% of his buying decision even before actually meeting a sales guy.
Customer Experience – A powerful brand differentiator
One of the key-deciding factors that influence the customers’ preference for a brand is his perception of the brand or his experience with the brand. The importance of customer experience can’t be underestimated, as a study by PWC says that customers value it so much that 86% of them are ready to pay more for an exceptional customer experience. A walker study estimates that customer experience will soon overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator.
However, for businesses, customer experience (CX) has always been a priority as many studies focused on the importance of CX have made interesting revelations. For instance, as per the Temkin Group, investing in customer experience can enable a company earning $1 billion annually to raise to $700 million within 3 years.
How to get it right with Customer experience?
Whether a customer will perceive an experience as good or bad depends on what his expectations are. Their expectations are the outcome of their buying habits or behaviours and awareness of customer-service trends in the industry at large.
Not many years ago, the customers had no expectations for the same day delivery or one-day delivery, neither they had the habit of checking multiple e-commerce sites to check the price quotes of the same products, nor they felt the need of receiving upfront updates from their service providers.
Recently, digitization and emerging technologies like automation and AI, has influenced the customer’s buying behavior and their way of interacting with businesses. But certainly the year 2020 acted as a catalyst in the process.
Apparently, in the coming years, new customer experience trends will further reshape buyers’ habits and behaviors, accordingly their expectations from businesses will change. In order to win the loyalty of the customers, businesses will require adapting new customer experience trends and alter the business processes to the needs and expectations of their customers.
As we are soon to welcome 2021, here is a list of top three customer experience trends that businesses must pay heed to stick out from the competition.
Customer Experience Trends for 2021 You Need to Know
‘The from home’ or remote culture
After experiencing the convenience and safety offered by the ‘work from home’ culture, people are likely to expect the same sense of safety and convenience in every walk of their life, even in their dealings with service providers.
Be it the busy lifestyle of the buyers or their choice of social distancing out of health safety concerns or their urge to be an informed buyer, customers will look forward to facilities that will allow them to interact with service providers in remote mode. They will want their queries to be addressed, without having to meet the salespeople in person. They will want the salespeople to be handy with efficient tools that can drive interactions at a remote but real-time mode and can lead to the final purchase of a product or service.
Here, advanced tools like AI-enabled Field Sales CRM software will do the needful. AI is already transforming the ways of customer interactions. Microsoft has even predicted that by 2025, 95 percent of customer interactions will be through AI. Through AI, salespeople can improve their communication with customers, address their queries in more personalized ways and offer them an integrative experience by reducing waiting times, and creating fewer roadblocks. A Field Sales CRM software will enable the salespeople to better attend the customers in the following ways:
- Real-time interaction and improved communication through chatbots, human agents
- Send regular updates of products or services
- Better anticipation of customer needs and provide them with personalized products or services
- Better protection of data privacy
- Enhanced customer support with monitoring and suggestions
- Better customer segmentation to facilitate priority-based quicker responses to customer leads
Demand for Personalization
In 2021, one dominating trend will be customers’ demand for personalization in their experience with brands or businesses. Personalized discounts, personalized content, customized updates and promotions, personalized suggestions, customized services, all will play a major role in shaping up the customer experience as it gives the customers a sense of feeling loved and listened to all through the service cycle. So businesses need to set their basics right and additionally focus on providing a personalized experience to their customers to win their loyalty. For B2B marketers, if customers are not happy with what they face on the field, then the chances of churning increases.
To achieve personalization in customer experience, it is important to know the exact requirements of customers, learn about their interests, and connect with them deeply. In the coming years, the KRAs of the sales reps will get reformed. No more it will be just about selling products and services to meet targets because achieving that won’t be easy without focusing on personalization in customer experience. What sales reps need to focus on is building relationships with customers. For this the sales reps will require to be more productive and efficient, they must be handy with field sales management tools so that they can optimize their time and have a better resource to connect with customers.
As per a Salesforce’s report, salespeople could spend only 34% of their total time productively selling, while most of their office hours go in non-sales activities like self-service admin work, traveling, etc. To boost their productivity, deploying automation in sales is very much needed. Automation can take care of aspects like updating lists, scheduling appointments, responding to emails, etc, meanwhile, the sales reps can focus on building a relationship with customers, and hitting sales. Tracking the performance of the sales folks is equally important to ensure that they are on the right track. For this, there should be well defined KPIs that every sales leader should follow and incorporate among his team.
Expecting real-time and proactive approach
There was a time when it was normal to wait for months to receive a post, but at present, a microsecond delay in sending or receiving messages over digital platforms appears irritating to us. We are already into an era, where we want our online or digital dealings to be real-time. It’s been a while that businesses have gone online, but moving ahead that won’t be sufficient. Businesses should also require inculcating the real-time and proactive approach in their dealings with customers.
When a customer starts interacting with a business, it expects the business to be proactive and more responsive towards his/her needs. If it is a first-time interaction, then customers are fine with the intro session, but second interaction onwards, customers just expect the businesses to be thorough with their details and service history so that their queries can be resolved more promptly. Thus, businesses need to have real-time insights into customer data collected across different touchpoints.
A proactive approach by businesses is much appreciated by customers. For instance, today’s customers are aware of the digital capacities, and they expect that service providers should be efficient at anticipating their needs and do the needful. They will want businesses to keep a tab of the service cycle on their behalf, and accordingly send them updates, reminders, or notifications. Thus, sales reps or service agents will require being handy with automation tools like Field Sales CRM software to better use the customer data for creating buyer personas and customer segmentation. Accordingly, they can carry on predictive analytics and can proactively approach the clients with suggestions like what the future holds for them.
Getting on board with these three aspects i.e. remote facilities, personalization, real-time and proactive approach, will empower businesses to win the CX game in 2021.