"No doubt, the last year and a half has been challenging for everyone. For brands, the crisis has brought about fundamental changes to how customers behave, resulting in what can only be described as a tectonic shift in their behaviour. Now, as we enter the last quarter of 2021, the need and investment in customer experience (CX) has risen exponentially. What was once a simple nice-to-have has reached its tipping point and, almost overnight, having a strong investment in CX has quickly become a matter of survival for all companies."
Mopinion asked DesiredPath's Kia Puhm to weigh in on the state of CX in 2021 with the following questions.
How do you think the pandemic has affected the market?
Kia: The pandemic accelerated digital transformation at a rapid speed which would not have otherwise occurred. By necessity, consumers needed to get online to keep in touch with family and friends, shop and even see the doctor. Organizations that could meet these digital demands were able to weather the storm and, in many cases, thrive during the pandemic.
In B2B, the crisis was also a forcing function back to the fundamentals of solid, customer success management. The pandemic made it glaringly obvious, and an imperative, that companies employ a customer-centric strategy to keep their customers and retention rates high. Those already operating with a customer focused strategy had an easier time making changes to their business during the disruption.
Which of the latest trends in CX do you see lasting the longest?
Kia: Online consumerism and optimized service. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital-first behaviours both in business and consumers. Companies had to reimagine how they engage with customers as a result.
Modernized shopping, curb-side pick-up (of virtually anything), rehabilitated return processes (e.g. scheduled return appointments), working out, etc. improved customer experience and convenience increasing customer expectations of how businesses meet their needs.
What direction do you think CX might be headed in the next year?
Kia: People are starved for connection and human interaction so I expect the pendulum of digital-only consumerism/work to swing back a bit. Consumers won’t want to give up the improved conveniences of digital-first experiences (bettered service, not commuting into the office full time, etc.) that came about during the pandemic, nor will digital-first consumerism slow down anytime soon, however people will want to have real-life experiences in both their personal and professional lives. Companies that can manage the customer journey seamlessly between the actual and virtual realm and tie the two together will do well.
Any additional comments or thoughts you would like to share about the current/past/future state of the customer experience?
Customer experience is changing even more rapidly than it did before. Customer expectations are increasing and shifting at an ever-increasing rate. Organizations that employ a customer-centric strategy and approach will use customer experience data to work with and for their customers mitigating disruption risk and being able to keep up with the pace of change.