9 Customer Trends 2021
The customer experience is experiencing a pandemic upswing. Don't sacrifice customer-centric thinking because it will help you retain your current customers and attract new ones in 2021 and 2022 longterm.
1. Customer Focus
Data-driven sales & marketing and digital content marketing are at the top of the list, but the most important point is the customer experience. And that is not surprising when products and services are becoming increasingly comparable. Differentiation is achieved through the strong brand and the brand promise kept, the benefits perceived by the customer, and the customer's experience throughout their entire customer journey. In the perfect Omni Channel scenario, the customer concept is felt equally well on all channels. Here, there must also be no breaks between the channels: How often have I filled out an online form with my individual needs and received a non-personalized standard response by mail. Where does that leave customer satisfaction?
2. Remote Work
We are by no means talking about a temporary measure here. We are talking about operational changes that will stay with us for the long term. At best, offices will become innovative meeting places, workshop arenas with a small proportion of fixed desk squads, as we all know them. The classic office has said goodbye!
What does this mean in concrete terms for customer service and internal processes? There, too, a restructuring must take place. Digitization has gained momentum through Corona, but it has left large gaps in the operational processes along the customer journey. Gaps in which the customer gets stuck. Smart working now presents entrepreneurs with the task of integrating hybrid contact centers, for example, and completely redefining task areas and job descriptions within the company. Offline must be connected with online. (Online merges offline- OMO)
3. Trust, health, safety, resilience
Trust is becoming the key element of CX: The pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life and work. Customers now want to interact with brands they can trust. This goes far beyond knowing the brand. Customers don't want empty arguments or nice PR copy, they want proof. How does this brand take care of my health and safety concerns? How does this brand deliver on its promises? How does this brand ensure the health of its employees? For example, when I go back to a café, restaurant, hotel, or concert in the future, I want to be confident that I can move freely knowing that this brand will ensure that the distance is maintained. Hotels were the first companies to implement hygiene concepts with proof for hotel guests, quickly, safely and efficiently.
4. Contactless, digital, online AND above all SIMPLE
Digitization is the permanent trend. But before we switch everything to digital, everything will first be simpler. SIMPLE, because the complexity is so high that it cannot be implemented 1:1 digitally and immediately in companies. Menus, online supermarket assortments, unlimited delivery zones and times, that's what the customer would like, but it's not possible or practical in every case. In the wake of the pandemic and the need to innovate, a lot has been cut. Focusing on the essentials. Assortments, menus and even entire collections of haute couture were cut. Eight collections a year shrunk to four. The shortened version also for the first time in history to be seen live and online at Armani in September 2020, live on Italian television.
This has never been done before!
"A spending rush doesn't fit this time". says Giorgio Armani
Contactless technologies are another key element of CX: Contactless technologies play an important role. Shopping with the smartphone. Mobile devices with which I can read the menu in a restaurant, check in at hotels or at the airport. As a result, the QR code, which has not been as successful in Germany, is also gaining a revival. The QR code is becoming an integral part of these contactless experiences. Chatbots and virtual assistants that advise customers on their customer journey are also gaining in importance.
Completely contactless payment is new at the Lanserhof chain. And a study by Facebook shows how text-friendly most customers have become: 53% increase in all Messenger services. And the trend is rising.
5. AI speech recognition on the one hand and humanity on the other hand
After the private sphere, after smart home, Alexa & Co, speech recognition is now inexorably sweeping through the business sector. It is used in all areas, but predominantly in HR for recruiting and personnel selection processes, in medicine, in financial services companies, in public authorities and in law. Speech recognition systems are general assistance systems. Accuracy is becoming more precise, but humans are needed to interface with the artificial intelligence.
How to prepare?
Analyze customer journey processes to make investments wisely. Don't just digitize because your competitors are doing it that way - strategy, strategy, strategy is what's needed here. Convert certain partial or overall processes, BUT also prepare and train staff well.
"Because the more artificial intelligence is used, the more humanity gains in importance."
6. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is not a new technology, but it is becoming another key element of CX: Augmented reality is gaining importance. This technology enables customers to see in advance what they want to buy. It is being successfully applied in the fashion industry by allowing merchandise to be tried on virtually. Return costs can be significantly reduced in this way. It saves costs for the company and enormous time for the customer. For the tourism world, it is a wonderful tool for not having to miss out on exploring new destinations. Even after the pandemic, virtual travel will become an essential part of the sales process in Travel & Hospitality.
7. Live and emphasise values such as privacy and sustainability
Values that can be perceived by customers are another key element of CX: Values play a more important role.
Customers pay more attention to the fact that brands are guided by values (such as sustainability, regionality, equality, diversity) and also realize their promises. They look for brands that take responsibility. This also includes the value of "privacy": customers and also employees are more sensitive about what happens to their data and how brands protect their privacy. They want to have and retain control.
That's where the value proposition and the lived common purpose, the overarching goal and purpose of the company, also play a role. They give customers orientation as to what the brand stands for. Customers check more and more whether the brand lives the values and whether these are values that match those of the customer.
And thus the trust that customers can have in a brand becomes a central asset.
8. Speed over Perfection
We're finally mentally ready to try things out and kick things off before they're perfect. Covid19 has taught us that. After all, only those who were able to quickly implement innovations and adapt to the unusual circumstances were able to get through the crisis year halfway economically in the last 11 months. That means for entrepreneurs:
This trend will continue in the new year 2021. Because on the one hand, it's about SPEED in implementing innovative alternatives to what has gone before. But it's also about customer expectations. And here I say quite clearly: Here, too, it's about SPEED - the customer is asking for it. He wants fast answers, fast delivery of good results and products, and above all, he doesn't want one thing: WAITING. Because that is exactly the reason why DOWNLOADS NOW and fast delivery offers work so well. This is al exceptionally not about service excellence first and foremost! What counts here is customer interaction.
9. CX_ Meet niche requirements of customers
For me, this trend is a niche - only those who really recognize it will really score points with customers. In concrete terms, this means that what is an extra sausage- roast for a customer today can be a new hype tomorrow. The wheel is turning so fast at the moment that we as entrepreneurs must be very vigilant in handling all customer requests, categorizing them carefully and not immediately devaluing them. Anyone who recognizes that a "special request" may possibly be aimed at a new target group, and knows how to respond to the customer's request with subtleties, will be several lengths ahead of the competition..
If you want to know the best place to start improving your customer experience without losing time: Feel free to call me for a free strategy talk..
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