2020 was a year when everything was different, and we learnt to cope with accelerated disruption in all forms, impacting the way we live, work and shop. While the effects of the pandemic are likely to abate over the years, the changes in our economy, lifestyle, and the way we use technology, are likely here to stay. This extends to consumption patterns, too, including entertainment, healthcare and even data.
Notably, there is a seismic shift towards self-care. PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2020 found that 69% of respondents are more focused on their mental health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic situation. Even before the pandemic, 43% of the respondents had said they expected businesses to be accountable for their environmental impact and consumers’ focus on sustainable business practices has surged since.
A new digital era of customer influence
A Gartner report on customer experience (CX) noted that over 70% of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results, even when 95% of them believe CX teams must deliver a superior or world-class customer experience.
Understanding how this new world impacts touch points with the customer will help companies actively reinvent their own future and buffer against external events. Digital technologies have shifted the balance of power from the seller to the buyer. In a global economy that never sleeps, consumer behaviour has been transformed by digital trends.
Empathy takes centre stage
Drawing the link between digital transformation strategies with the need for empathy is one way to resolve issues companies have when it comes to improving customer experiences. Based on Fujitsu’s Global Digital Transformation Survey Report 2020, 89% of the respondents said digital transformation has allowed them to contribute positively, not only to businesses but also to society. Digital transformation has enabled one third of organizations to provide better safety for people, improve well-being and contribute to smarter, more sustainable cities.
Elevating Customer Experiences in the New Normal
Faced with this increasingly volatile environment, a care-centric customer base and business culture can only be realized by embracing both physical and digital worlds. Businesses can put customers first and deliver an exceptional customer experience with these tips:
- Understand your customer’s needs and perspectives: Customers have visible needs that they can express, and invisible needs based on deeper desires that cannot be articulated easily. Combining behavioral and survey data to unlock customers’ unconscious needs, as well as intelligence from actual, person-to-person interaction, can help companies better segment customers by their individual needs.
- Dive into the data: Every customer interaction generates data. Collecting qualitative and quantitative data in a coordinated, structured way across functions and touchpoints to create a singular picture of each customer persona can generate valuable insights. These can be used to pinpoint customers’ evolving needs, or open opportunities to enhance customer experience to develop loyalty and up-sell or cross-sell products.
- Keep conversations consistent: Customers expect to communicate with companies seamlessly across a wide range of different channels, from instant messages to face-to-face. Whether it is human or a digital algorithm, creating an omni-channel experience that reinforces relationships at every level with a two-way conversation that generates outcomes faster and better, will be key.
- Pave the way to a 360-degree customer experience: The perfect customer experience and journey need to encompass people, systems and technologies. Engaging employees, suppliers and partners when defining the ideal customer experience will help create one that covers a customer’s needs, options and interactions with these parties.
- Observe and listen to customers, but keep an eye on the horizon: Fulfilling customer needs right now will not suffice – companies must look to the future and innovate. Innovation should be predicated on defined business-led outcomes. Horizon-scanning through trend analysis can help companies better understand what customers really want and lead innovation in both product and business models.
- Involve customers in offering development processes: A great brand helps consumers articulate their identities in a visible way. New technologies allow companies to take this a step further by making it easier to pro-actively reach out and engage customer communities. Companies can turn customers into fans by involving them in the development of new products and services, giving them a sense of ownership and connectedness to the brand’s success.
Mastering Customer Experience, together
Today’s customers have more choices than ever before, and competition has never been fiercer. Customers are unlikely to come back to a company that provides a less-than-positive experience. Customer experiences must be relevant, tailored, and supported by the right content, given the context of the touchpoint.
By reimagining the customer experience rules, redefining the mediums used, and essentially making the customer a hero, companies can connect communities, provide individuals with a personalized relationship, and deliver seamless experiences that convert.