Future of customer experience: virtual experiences infused with a human touch
Customer experience has taken on a new definition and dimension amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. Customer expectations have heightened as purchase priorities have shifted and buying behavior has changed. What was earlier considered as a good customer experience is table-stakes today. Most businesses across all sectors are now keen to reorganize their approach to customers.
Today, brands are toiling hard to deliver experiences to modern, digitally savvy customers through new technologies and tools like real-time messaging, chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, and self-service.
But we’re getting to see an interesting shift towards ‘buying into companies’ rather than simply ‘buying from them.’ Trust is becoming multidimensional.
In the face of the ongoing pandemic and beyond, the real challenge is not just to stand out but to continue pivoting and innovating for keeping customers hooked.
Prepping for 2021? Here are some emerging trends
Let us unpack what the future of customer experience will look like.
1. Dynamic Customer Engagement: Before COVID hit the world, customer service tended to be more reactive, burdening customers to find the best channel for getting a solution themselves. But no more!
A Gartner research reveals that dynamic customer engagement (DCE) is the way forward. This strategy would help companies deliver differentiated customer experiences by leveraging data to glean actionable insights and offer the next-best-action recommendations to customers proactively.
2. Zero UI: While many brands are busy leveraging AI to automate answering services and manual tasks, intelligently route tickets, and augment messaging for chatbots and human agents to handle queries more efficiently, the technology of Zero UI is likely to catch on soon.
A Forrester research reveals that brands are likely to embrace touchless zero UI (ambient and haptic user interfaces) technology that leverages gesture, voice, and proximity to build and deliver new digital product experiences tailored specifically to each user.
3. Omnichannel to Channel-less: This is not a trend exclusive to 2021. Most businesses today invest in offering omni-channel experiences to their customers. Some organizations that aligned their messaging, goals, objectives, and design across all devices and channels to offer a seamless omnichannel customer experience have succeeded the most in the recent few years.
However, it is important to evolve the mindset to move beyond the sheer number of channels and the internal processes that bind them. From a customer’s perspective, they do not really care about a channel but the experience. A channel is incidental. A person could even be using two channels simultaneously while interacting with a brand. Hence, it is imperative to create a digital infrastructure that can blur the boundaries between distinct channels and provide a seamless and ubiquitous experience to customers. This is improving with every passing year and the trend will continue.
4. Rise of the Bionic Support: It is being increasingly realized that customers of tomorrow will seek bionic customer service i.e., service that blends digital functionality for speed and convenience, as well as thoughtful and caring human interaction when the customer needs and demands it.
The Boston Consulting Group estimates that making telephony agents bionic could give organizations a competitive advantage of 15 percentage points in cost-to-income ratio, driven by improved cost leverage, deeper relationships, and reduced customer attrition. Such organizations would be more likely to outpace their competitors with their sustainable competitive advantage.
5. Changing consumer-brand relationships: All relationships have an emotional component. And this holds true for consumer-brand relationship too. Forrester predicts that as and when the pandemic fades and people ease into more in-store experiences, consumers will be favoring brands who have instilled confidence and trust with their actions in the face of the ongoing pandemic on delivering superior customer experience.
According to a Salesforce research,
Invest in the Right Areas to Invigorate Your Customer Experience Strategy
Adapting well to the post-Covid-19 landscape calls for brands to recognize, that, what worked a year ago is not good enough today.
If organizations are willing to invest in the right areas such as virtual hiring, adequate training and deployment of the latest technologies and tools that meaningfully connect with the business context, they will get ample opportunities to forge stronger relationships with their customers and grow their bottom line.
In 2021, it is recommended that brands focus on turning more empathetic as customers are likely to measure their efforts and value proposition on the human scale. Hence, it makes sense to invest in building a corporate culture with empathy as one of the strongest core values in 2021.
The original article was published here on February 12, 2021.