المدونة العلمية

Seeing Round corners-by Philip Forrest, President of ICXI

Seeing Round Corners 

 

Organizations that want to improve their agility need a road map to glued them as they progress incrementally on ​their journey along the key five dimensions of agility leadership, structure, process portfelleand technology architecture. Read What the Market is Predicting Round Corner

 

Where are we now?

It can be said with a high degree of certainty that 2020 has been a funny old year. Not many would argue that the world in general has struggled to cope with and adapt to what is referred to as the “new normal”.

Observing from a personal standpoint, as one whose customer experience antenna are fairly finely tuned, it appears that customer experience management has suffered as much as, if not more than most areas of organisational performance. This is the time of year when there are the usual lists of trends and predictions about the year ahead. Before briefly examining these forecasts it may be worth considering the existing foundations upon which actions to optimise the potential opportunities in 2021 can be built.

There is little evidence that the Covid 19 attack on the private and public organisations of the world has generated any real kind of strategic response to the management of customer service.

There is plenty of evidence that Covid 19 has created its own customer experience Top Ten List and not one that makes happy reading. It The Covid 19 year has definitely: –
  1. Provided a wonderful excuse for when service fails to meet experience levels that address customers’ requirements have been often blamed on the failures of the supply This may have been truer in the first three months but should not be valid almost a year on.
  2. Failed to see that the automation systems designed to handle the customer interface is worse than useless (try any of the Chatbots of the major banks or utilities). Why worse than? Because they are so profoundly unfit for purpose that by the time the customer does eventually manage to speak with a human being they are likely to have been frustrated beyond measure and likely to present to that human already suffering with severe symptoms of
  3. Created a reason within organisations who have customers who actually need to telephone them to deliver a multi-minute time wasting homily of excuses upon all the better ways to contact them as a prelude to the “choose one of the following options” What evidence do they have that makes them believe that customers finds this helpful?
  4. Made Self-Service a preferred customer option. If it is possible to deal with the whole process without the intervention of the organisation (for example paying bills ordering groceries on-line) then the experience can be However if there is a need to move away from the proscribed process the nightmares described above re-emerge.
  5. Struggled to deal with remote working technology. There are two key elements that combine to frustrate customers. The first being the working from home (WFH) technology the reliability of which even the BBC has struggled to fully control. Secondly the education of the operators regarding the image of the organisation they are Agreed that both customers and organisations need to make allowances but barking dogs and crying children added to poor telecommunication technology do little to add to customer confidence or deliver a satisfactory experience.
  6. Created a loss of control of customer journey management. When customers need to deal with more than one part of the organisation the gaps in the process through which the customer can fall appear to have become greater both in terms of width and
  7. Struggled to deal with demand. It may seem a strange thing to observe but some sectors are enjoying a surge in demand for their services, for example home The

Response generally has been poorly managed. Many organisations appear to have tried, generally unsuccessfully, to increase their response capacity by increasing, beyond what is reasonable, customer telephone queuing times or in many instances simply ignoring requests for information, goods or services.

  1. Allowed local policy amendment on the fly. That is when the central organisational proposition to the customer is accepted and then adjusted locally without reference to the ethical or legal implications of the adjustment. It would be interesting to know the degree to which CEO complaints have increased during 2020 and the number of local decisions reversed and the amount of compensation
  2. Increased the propensity of organisation to dictate to customers a service quality that provides service on terms that suit the organisation rather than the customer. It is like “avoiding the extra mile”, for example if organisations are providing helpline services to customers by using WFH facilities then it would appear as easy to provide service support hours at least equal to that provided pre-Covid, especially as WFH employees no longer have to travel to
  3. Created a belief that it is OK just to ignore customers either in their request for goods or services or in their need for feedback on issues or problems. A situation aggravated by the closure or withdrawal of some communication channels, usually those which would offer the customer the opportunity to achieve a quicker resolution

 

In summary

These are an unstructured, unratified set of personal observations but supported by many professional observers who collectively agree that the quality of service during the Covid 19 era has declined to levels not experienced in the last twenty years.

In looking ahead to the priorities of 2021 it is critical that 2020 performance levels are not taken as the improvement benchmark. 2020 has been a tricky year and one in which many areas of management have risen to meet its unique challenges. Unfortunately, customer service has not covered itself in glory. There are a few exceptions, often from micro-organisations that really have made the effort, many of these the food and hospitality sector for whom necessity has been not only the mother of invention but also the father of survival.

 

In spite of all the bluff and bluster about adapting to the “new normal” the reality for customers is that service quality has been generally poor. While some less sophisticated performance measures may not accurately report the level of decline, they may well be indicating that rather than service quality remaining high it is customer expectation that has declined to the degree that almost any level of service is acceptable.

Customer experience management should not be seeking an incremental improvement programme but a revolutionary overhaul that seeks to look honestly at the 2020 levels of performance and vows never to let them sink as low again. There is no doubt that the future is uncertain and there has never been a greater need to develop the skill of being able to see round corners to try to anticipate and plan today for tomorrow’s success.

 

Around the Next Corner

So what do the sages say customer experience leadership and management that may assist this endeavour?

It would be reassuring if all the forecast predictions and trends followed a fairly similar pattern perhaps offering interpretations centred around a small number of core truths. In fact there are more than 100 different individual prognostications arranged into numerous Top “X” lists with some overlap around a few areas but even within those groups there is little presenting an overall picture that really gives a clear strategic pathway beyond the truth that customer experience management is a key organisational priority. A fact that has been known to be a sensible idea from the very first day that a customer ever handed over money for goods. As it has been a core management practice for over forty years it is somewhat surprising that its importance should still need to be reinforced.

The following emerges from the published research found in support during an internet search for 2021 trends and forecasts for customer experience management.

The two key factors in any customer service quality measurement are “Importance” versus “Performance”. What is important to customers and how did the supplier perform in delivering those factors. This combination creates the customer experience.

https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/

This piece of measurement asked 1,920 business professionals to share their number one priority for the next 5 years.

The result? Customer experience came in first (beating product and pricing). So there is recognition that understanding what is of importance to customers and ensuring organisational performance delivers it is a key factor in sustained success in the years ahead. So how to do that?

Of the 100 plus predictions and trends uncovered the main issues within them were as follows

 

1. Implications involving the use and adoption of technology 46.2%
2. The need for care, empathy and personalisation 21.6%
3. The increasing importance of the customer experience 14.7%
4. Channel and omnichannel management 12.9%
5. Unsolicited advice & Other 4.6%

 

 

1.     Implications Involving the Use and Adoption of Technology

Self-service help will be the first choice.

  1. In 2021, companies should ensure that customers are able to find answers to their questions using a wide-range of self-service
  2. Today, 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company
  3. Furthermore, 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base, if it were available and tailored to their
  4. Customers are willing to find the answers themselves. So much so, that by 2030, Gartner estimates that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned
  5. To handle this demand, companies are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

  1. In 2019, 25% of all customer interactions were automated through AI and machine learning. With 90% of companies now planning to deploy AI within 3 years, this number is expected to grow to 40% by
  2. In the short-term, organisations need to make sure that when a customer has a problem, the right tools are available to them, so they can solve it,

 

 

Digital Transformation Is Here to Stay

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradbirnbaum/2020/11/24/what-will-customer-service-look- like-in-the-months-to-come-predictions-for-2021/?sh=516b60a641ad

 

  1. Although the initial shift to working remotely posed many challenges for CX organizations, many businesses have put processes and technology in place to deliver efficient and effective support in a remote According to PWC, 82% of office workers would prefer to continue working remotely, at least part of the time, even after Covid-19 has subsided. And a whopping 73% of executives say working remotely has been a success.
  2. We predict these shifting attitudes are here to stay, and provide many added benefits to organizations. Workers have more flexibility in their schedule and businesses can potentially garner cost-savings by downsizing office space and cutting back on in-office perks. So while some organizations have implemented temporary fixes to get through this quick shift to digital-first, a long term technology solution to enable smart remote work is now
  3. Changing Consumer Attitudes Means More Digital Commerce
  4. With most businesses closing their storefronts (at least temporarily) during the global pandemic, consumers were forced to shift their shopping online. The demographic that has historically been least likely to shop online and order for delivery, were also the most at-risk — those over the age of 65. Many older consumers were shopping online for the first time, and along with their shopping came a slew of questions directed at customer
  5. If Covid is making customers behave worse (or better) to customer service employees it creates a once-a-generation chance to innovate in customer experience and improve customer service training

  6. While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal,” there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and the volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries is expected to Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to ask a question, or call a customer service number for assistance, now may find it more convenient to click on a chat widget or read an FAQ article while they browse your site online. In fact, according to recent consumer research, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved. Incorporating digital-first support strategies into the overall online customer experience will make a huge difference when it comes to brand equity and loyalty for 2021 and beyond.

  7. Prepare for speed and efficiency because n unfortunate result of forced closures meant that organizations needed to be smarter than ever, as the volume of customer inquiries surged. In addition, according to our recent survey, nearly three-quarters of consumers said they still expect their problem to be solved immediately upon contacting customer service
  8. While it is true that some organizations have seen digital inquiries somewhat normalize after a spike earlier in the year, the pandemic has revealed significant gaps in CX strategies. What seemed like a nonurgent need—adopting new technology to increase efficiency—is now staring CX organizations directly in the face and preventing them from being successful. Whether it’s a similar unthinkable event that shakes the economy to its core, or simply a busy holiday shopping season overwhelming agents, organizations must be prepared to scale efficiently, at lightning
  9. Customers Are More Than Just Transactions. According to our Covid-19 research, CX teams reported that customers valued empathetic service above all other customer service attributes during the pandemic. Consumers want to be treated like a valued customer, with real thoughts, emotions, feedback and
  10. As AI and automation take on more of the busy work in the CX space, and more consumers shift to online vs. in-store shopping, customer service agents will take on a much more important — and challenging — role. They will become the face of the company, reflecting it’s values and building lifelong relationships. Think of all of the DTC disruptor brands with cult-like followings— yes they have chic branding, but they’ve also built a community of advocates based on how they treat (and value) their customer.
  11. In 2021 and Beyond, CX Will Be More Important Than Ever
  12. As customer service takes on an increasingly vital role, having the right technology and tools in place can go a long way in helping organizations and agents cope with long-term changes and challenges. Organizations should look for technology that allows for collaboration between remote team members, provides agents with the freedom to move between channels, and brings all the data about a customer into one place to help deliver a more efficient, personalized experience. In addition, relying on AI and chatbots can save significant time for customers and agents and help arm agents with all the information they need to quickly and accurately service their
  13. In 2020, the influx in customer service inquiries, the immensely challenging questions, the need to provide empathy and humanity during an incredibly stressful time, were all imperative.
  14. Also beyond 2021, customer service organizations will need to embrace these changes to not only deliver on customer demand, but help drive revenue in the

 

 

Migration to Cloud

https://www.callcentrehelper.com/2021-customer-service-becomes-human-165344.htm

 

  1. Customer demand is changing, fuelled by economic pressures of the pandemic. More than ever, businesses need to be there for their customers by maximising responsiveness at any point in time, regardless of
  2. In 2021, we will see a greater shift to the cloud away from on-premise, as more organisations look to create efficiencies and free up agents’ time to focus on more complex customer
  3. As well as providing an easy work-from-home set-up, it will also offer more omnichannel options, scalable staffing, intelligent routing, easily accessible data and AI- assisted
  4. The cloud will provide the foundation on which executives can quickly and easily deploy new technologies without having to install them in their own organisations – further

 

Enhancing the customer experience and helping to future-proof the contact centre against similar adverse events as the pandemic.
  1. The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of empathy between brands and Messages of comfort and positive support have provided assurance to consumers, as well as employees, that they are cared for during so much uncertainty. In 2021, organisations will continue to strive for human connection with customers by responding to their needs – from setting the right expectations, to being respectful of their time and proactively meeting their requests.
  2. Empathy will be a deciding factor in every decision – from hiring people who are naturally empathetic, to training initiatives that encourage employees to communicate more empathetically. This will also be factored into decisions over what technology to invest in – using software, applications or processes to allow the agent to focus on truly listening and engaging with the
  3. The Future of IVR .Once deemed the most exciting development in customer service technology, interactive voice response (IVR) has become the most frustrating part of the call centre experience for customers and agents alike. Customers have grown tired of getting lost in an IVR tree which fails to provide options truly reflective of their needs, meanwhile agents all too often end up on the receiving end of their
  4. In 2021, the time is ripe for disruption in this area. Intelligent omnichannel routing will improve first contact resolution by giving agents the ability to easily access subject- matter experts who are using unified communication (UC) capabilities. Agents can connect to them during the customer engagement and bring them directly into the conversation if needed. Forward-looking companies have already begun integrating UC, CRM and contact centres, enabling seamless communications between agents, customers and, if needed, subject-matter experts within the business, making information available at their fingertips to deliver excellent customer
  5. In 2021, more leaders will embrace this technology to gain a competitive advantage with improved customer experience, all while lowering costs when it’s needed the
  6. Hold No Longer – While phone lines won’t be going anywhere in 2021, being put on hold Phone support provides that all important personal connection valued most by customers, but making them wait an average of up to 20 minutes causes frustrations and shows little respect for their time. In the year ahead, we expect to see a wider uptake in technologies that can help alleviate the irritation customers feel when they are tied to their phone. In particular, we’ll see greater investment in comprehensive workforce management systems to reduce hold times.
  7. These can automatically and accurately forecast call volumes, allowing organisations to deploy the right number of agents to handle calls, while also leveraging flexible agent scheduling to address volume
  8. Callback technologies will also be used more widely to manage customer service Immediate, instant, or scheduled callbacks can allow customers to keep the same spot in line and receive a call the moment an agent is free or select a time to be called later in the day.

 

Improved CX With AI

https://www.kustomer.com/blog/5-customer-experience-predictions-for-2021/

 

 

It’s no secret that AI is transforming the way businesses interact with their customers. Microsoft predicts that by 2025 as many as 95% of customer interactions will be through AI.

Sales and CX teams are using business VoiP services equipped with AI to quickly address customer queries and improve their communication. The transportation industry is waiting in anticipation as automated cars threaten disruption. In finance, financial services companies leverage AI to recommend personalized products and services to individuals. It’s moving fast, and businesses need to keep up with AI developments to stay on top of their game.

AI re-imagines customer experiences and end-to-end customer journeys. The result? Integrated and personalized customer experience.

With AI, brands can be available to their customers at every stage of their journeys, instantaneously. Leveraging AI can help businesses better understand customers and deliver better CX, resulting in higher conversions and decreased cart abandonment.

One of the biggest challenges facing customer service teams is handling an increase in customer support calls, emails, and social media inquiries. Customer service teams can employ AI to handle low-level support issues in real time, and gather initial information for live agents before intervention is needed. This results in lower wait times and fewer frustrated customers.

In a world where good customer experience can make or break a business, AI is a great tool to ensure customers feel their time is valued and stay loyal to a business. Here are some examples of how businesses use AI to streamline CX:

  • Automated answering service for sorting and routing support
  • Automating manual tasks like tagging
  • Intelligently routing to the most appropriate agent
  • Augmented messaging that allows chatbots and human agents to work in tandem. The bots handle simple queries, and the agents can take over when it gets too

 

Chatbots

Businesses in various sectors have already employed chatbots to better deliver on customer needs and improve the speed at which business can help consumers.

The chatbot market size is projected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024. We’ll see businesses using chatbots to cut operational costs and streamline customer service processes. They can’t completely replace humans, but chatbots can:

  • Provide instant answers to simple customer queries, 24/7
  • Collect customer data and analyze it to gain insight into customer behavior
  • Reduce pressure on customer service staff by automating low level support, allowing them to deal with more difficult inquiries
  • Increase customer engagement and conversions

 

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants allow users to interact with spoken language (Hey Alexa! Hey Google!) and help to relieve pressure on support staff by enabling interactive in-app support for users. AI virtual assistants are rising to new challenges and playing a vital role in automating customer service interactions.

In the next few years, virtual assistants are set to become more customizable, contextual, and conversational.

Data, Data, and More Data

Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the power of customer data in driving business outcomes and ROI. With customers expecting personalized, in-the-moment online experiences, the value of real-time data insights is paramount.

At present, predictive analytics helps retailers increase their margins by up to 60%. This number is set to grow as AI reaches greater capabilities.

Brands collect transactional, behavioural, and sensor data to form a customer ID that informs business goals as they move forward. This customer data is crucial to understanding what their CX does and does not get right.

Businesses are gaining deeper customer insights by collecting transactional customer data, analyzing customer behaviour, segmenting personas, and more. Once all this data is collected and stored, predictive analytics can help businesses to understand how they’re succeeding or falling short of their objectives.

Businesses are using all this data about their customers to enhance the customer experience. How? By providing feedback in real-time, predicting customer needs, and identifying which customers they might lose. As a result, CX agents can satisfy their customers and prevent problems from arising.

We predict this trend will continue into 2021, as brands continue collecting meaningful data to build an omni-touch, real-time experience that allows customers to feel heard and understood.

Customer Service Goes Remote

With the recent advancements in technology, customer service and support have been able to optimize operations online. This has changed not only best practices and strategies, but also what customers expect from businesses.

This trend has a huge impact on businesses, employees, and, inadvertently, customers.

Remote working has plenty of benefits for all parties. Businesses can save significant costs on rent and technology, and hire from a more diverse talent pool. On the flip side, employees can work from anywhere (including their beds) and reduce commute time. No wonder most people who have tried remote work never want to go back!

Adapting to this shift can prove challenging. Remote working teams need to learn new methods of providing effective customer service from their homes or co-working spaces. It’s also essential that they find tactical ways to streamline project collaboration and to share information and customer data.

They’ll need to adapt to communicating in a virtual space, employ automated software to streamline operations, and find methods of staying motivated and on top of tasks.

 

As customer service goes remote, customer service teams will continue to face challenges when it comes to delivering an impeccable CX without setting foot in the office, but with the right technology, that allows for remote collaboration and oversight, it’s possible.

 

 

Digital Transformation will Accelerate Even Further

Adoption of AI-powered conversational interfaces will rapidly increase in the future global marketplace.

At a time like this, customer loyalty is more important than ever.

https://unbabel.com/blog/5-predictions-for-global-customer-service-in-2021/

The trend of remote and hybrid workforces wasn’t exactly new to global business leaders ahead of the pandemic. Yet, many organizations were ill-prepared to make the quick shift to a digital- first workforce and business model. Getting employees out of the office broke a lot of established habits and rituals experienced in corporate cultures. This disruption forced leaders who were previously uncomfortable with a distributed workforce to dive headfirst into the adjustment, making decisions and optimizations as they go.

In the year ahead, leaders will need to remain comfortable with this accelerated rate of change and be willing to use this unique time to push ahead their organization’s digital transformation. The pandemic is exposing those unprepared for technological advancement.

One technology that’s helped many organizations do more with less in 2020 is AI. For this reason and more, the adoption of AI is expected to grow. For example, Gartner predicted that 70% of customer interactions will involve AI-powered intelligent technologies by 2022. One of the biggest value propositions for this use case is augmenting the human workforce

Conversational interfaces reign supreme in global customer service

Siri and Alexa have become commonplace to the consumer, but the application and utility of virtual assistants is still limited when compared to their potential for disruption. Increased developer access and knowledge of voice interfaces are enhancing the availability of chat agents, and some organizations use voice recognition to augment their text analysis.

The advancements in virtual assistants are causing disregard of the chat vs. voice binary. Instead, more organizations will focus on the adoption of conversational interfaces as a whole. Chat agents that used to rely on a decision tree model are being augmented with blended AI technologies, making them both more accessible and more appealing to a broader range of businesses.

In the customer care centre, past years have shown that chat and voice service offer similar customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, among other similar performance indicators. However, chat has tended to be more affordable, scalable and was found to be the preferred format by 63% of millennials. Regardless of the format, customer expectations for fast and personalized service will only increase.

Globalization will shift to intensely local experiences

The pandemic has certainly changed globalization, perhaps permanently. While we’ve seen trade and travel slow down, some bright spots such as global cross-border shopping have actually increased throughout the pandemic.

In some ways, a digital breakdown in geographical barriers will create more opportunities for global players, both in multilingual customer service and beyond. However, entering a new market requires that businesses are able to deal with global customers in a local way. That

 

means having a deep understanding of language, customs, and local culture. Many organizations start by providing an intensely local, AI-augmented customer service experience digitally. This approach pays off: 70% of people report that they’d feel more loyal to a company that serviced them in their native language.

Luckily, AI is democratizing language, and is equipping more organizations to serve customers in their native language at scale – without the need for local agents. This trend will continue into 2021.

Human-augmented AI practices open more doors to adoption

Human-augmented, or human-in-the-loop, practices have made AI technologies more proficient and scalable for modern organizations. The introduction of the GPT-3 neural network language model earlier this year was truly revolutionary. While the technology around AI and language is advancing quickly, early adopters and beta testers have made it abundantly clear that human judgments are still central to success.

Early indicators from 2020 proved AI adoption was is still strong.. Even before the pandemic, Gartner predicted that by 2025 customer service organizations that have adopted AI would elevate operational efficiency by 25%. Imagine how COVID and the resulting remote workforce has impacted this statistic alone.

AI research will advance toward a common machine translation model

Facebook announced a machine translation model called M2M-100 that translates directly between pairs of 100 languages without relying on English as a middle step. This news is significant because relying on English translations as an intermediary between two languages can cause a drop in accuracy. For the AI community, it indicates even more progress toward a common, baseline multilingual machine translation model. This is exciting for the field of multilingual machine translation because English should not be seen as the only universal language. Research efforts in the coming years will be focused on improving the quality of bi- directional translations, so these models can be effective in production for a variety of business scenarios, including customer service.

 

 

Digital Investments will Continue in 2021

https://www.getfeedback.com/resources/cx/customer-experience-in-2021-which-trends-are- here-to-stay-according-to-top/

Most companies have multi-year digital transformation plans at play, but were these initiatives accelerated in 2020 given the massive shift online seen happening across industries this year? Since customer feedback is critical to getting transformation initiatives right, do CX leaders felt that they’re more involved with these initiatives now than before the pandemic?

The CX study revealed that companies are indeed racing toward the digital sphere, and increasingly looking to CX leaders to pave the way:

  • 80% say their organizations’ online interactions with customers have increased since COVID-19
  • 75% are accelerating new or planned digital transformation initiatives today
  • 80% of CX professionals say they’re involved in their organization’s digital transformation initiatives, and nearly ⅔ are more involved in these initiatives today than they were prior to COVID-19

 

The pandemic has also highlighted that digital is about more than scale—it’s also about offering a great experience. The self-service experience built for smaller customers is not just desired but expected from larger customers who don’t want to talk to a human for the simple tasks. Self- service isn’t just about cutting costs it’s also about providing customers with the great, self- service digital experience they’re seeking.

 

Increased Spending on Technology

 

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=15099706&article-title=top-10-customer-service-trends-for-2021&blog- domain=smartkarrot.com&blog-title=smartkarrot

For any business, scaling is the only way towards sustainable growth. But instead of spending money on increased headcount, companies are planning to spend heavily on technology. The economies of scale work best with technology.

With increased spending, companies are able to automate their customer service efforts. More efficiency can be brought into the system and it leaves a good impact on the customers. With advanced tools like Freshdesk, companies are not only able to serve their customers well but also curb churn. Customer service technology trends have shown that year 2021 would bring more investment into this.

More control over metrics to measure ROI

Measuring the impact of customer service has always been difficult for entrepreneurs. There are many metrics like customer satisfaction, net promoter score, etc., but hardly they give a clear picture on their impact on business.

Metrics like how many tickets have been closed and how fast they were closed have been serving the tasks of measuring the customer service efforts. But now company owners are keener on what ROI they are able to generate through the customer service department.

Hence, companies would be more interested in measuring the impact on final outcomes like customer retention or reducing churn rate through customer service.

Instant access to service for the customers

The time period for which the customers have to wait to get answered is reducing considerably. Features like chatbot are hitting the marketplace quite effectively and companies are adapting fast to this new way of customer interaction.

With the advanced AI and machine learning capabilities, the frequent queries of the customers can be handled quite effectively. Not only that, they are also helpful in reducing the manpower required for the customer care. Research shows that chatbots are able to save more than $8 bn in the customer care costs for the companies by the year 2022.

Proactive customer engagement is going to be the top priority for the year 2021

With the rising trend of companies adopting customer success functions, companies have realized the importance of proactive customer engagement in driving business growth. It is much better to prevent the issues than waiting for them to raise the queries.

Customer success managers make sure that customers don’t face any challenge while using their product. Hence, they take every measure to educate customers and provide them with self- sufficient resources. This customer service trend will pick up drastically for the next year.

Contact Center Investments for Success in 2021

 

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=15089452&article-title=contact-center-investments-for-success-in-2021&blog- domain=niceincontact.com&blog-title=nice-incontact

In 2021, contact centers should invest to get built-in adaptability by increasing agent support, implementing digital channels, and embracing AI-powered bots.

Investing in agents becomes more critical

Agents are the greatest assets, playing a critical role in satisfying customers. Probably sent home to work at the beginning of the lockdowns may still be there. Are remote agents part of the permanent operational model like so many other contact centers?

Agents were probably real troopers when sent to work from home, stoically putting up with technology glitches, changing plans, and not having everything they needed to do their jobs. But enough time has passed that these initial bumps should be smoothed away. At-home agents should have necessary tools and still feel like they’re part of a team.

Give agents all the tools they need

Prior to the pandemic, some organizations had embraced a remote agent model, but many others had only dabbled in it and still others had work from home (WFH) pilots on their long- range road maps. The pandemic forced the hands of the more reluctant contact centers and those future pilots became immediate, full-scale implementations.

It turns out that contact centers (and many agents) really like the remote agent model. In fact, the 2020 Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark revealed that 70% of contact centers expect they will continue to have agents work from home after the outbreak.

A key to making this model work is providing at-home agents with access to all the applications they use with full availability, reliability and speed. This can include their agent desktop, CRM, knowledge base, performance dashboards, quality monitoring tools, scheduling applications, and more. If these are all in the cloud, giving agents access is quick and straightforward, especially compared to making on-premises software available to remote workers.

Ensuring remote agents’ internet access is fast and secure is another key to success. IT teams may suddenly find themselves in a new role as they interact with internet service providers to optimize home Wi-Fi, routers, and internet access. Additionally, IT groups need to focus on making sure the internal infrastructure can support remote workers, which can include ensuring VPNs, data centers, hosted applications, and connectivity to them can support the additional load from WFH employees.

Offload agent work with self service

Most workers like the elimination of mundane work tasks and agents are no different. Strategic use of self-service capabilities can ease the burden of performing repetitive tasks and allow agents to flex their problem-solving muscles. Increasing customer adoption of self-service tools can change the nature of agents’ roles and increase their value as they begin to focus more on complex issues.

This move can not only make an agent’s job more fulfilling, but having strong self-service capabilities should also be part of every organization’s business continuity plan to ensure they have an agile contact center. Being able to quickly turn on and promote self-service in a time of crisis provides contact centers with the flexibility they need to continue to support their customers.

Every customer that self-serves represents a task an agent doesn’t have to perform. This can be good for both morale and the bottom line. More businesses are beginning to understand the

 

value of self-service, as 43% of the businesses in a benchmark survey said they prefer self- service channels over agent-assisted methods, a 15 point year-over-year increase.

Make meaningful process improvements

A new year is a great time to scrutinize suboptimal processes. Start 2021 right by improving processes that create friction with your agents and customers or drive up costs through inefficiencies.

Begin by looking at the stats. Are hold times higher than target? What about transfer rates? Is there an opportunity to shave some time off average handle times (AHT)?

Then, talk agents to find out their ideas, because they’ll have some good ones. They will be able to tell what additional support they need, which process or policy standards degrade CX, if certain aspects of the technology are cumbersome, and more. Give them a forum and they will share their ideas.

Go the digital way for channels

If there is one strong trend coming off COVID-19 it is around digital adoption and investment discussions on long-term digital transformation. It is imperative for organization to pivot to this business model earlier than later.

Customers want to interact on digital channels. Consumer research has shown that 90% of consumers say they are more willing to do business with a company that provides more ways to communicate. Further, digital channels like email and chat have strong preference scores and others are gaining ground, especially among Millennials and Gen Z.

These gains aren’t just limited to agent-assisted digital channels. Self-service digital channels are also experiencing gains, led by mobile apps.

Customer demand isn’t the only reason to implement digital channels. There are also very practical reasons to go digital – it can help contact centers manage demand and provide more agility as part of business continuity plans. Most digital channels, unlike voice interactions, don’t require real-time responses. This means agents can respond to, for example, emails and chats and switch over to real-time phone conversation and come back to doing chat and that too concurrently.

For maximum flexibility in reacting to changing customer preferences or emergencies, contact centers should implement software that enables digital channels to be quickly turned on and off.

Bots are here to stay

AI-powered bots are no longer experimental technology. Organizations are successfully using them for self-service or in conjunction with agent assistance for an optimized customer experience and more efficient operations. And, like digital channels, they can help manage contact demand and should be a part of business continuity plans.

Bots can be deployed in various channels – voice, chat, IVR and many more and are typically used to answer common questions or facilitate simple transactions. They are also effective at gathering customer information that can be handed off to the agent for quicker agent-assisted interactions.

Both consumers and businesses believe bots need to be smarter, which is happening over time. As artificial intelligence becomes more useful, consumer and business adoption increases,

  • 66% of contact centers use at least one AI channel for customer support, a substantial 16 point increase from the previous

 

  • 40% are investing in customer-facing AI capabilities, like chatbots, in the coming
  • 52% – plan to invest in AI that will improve

Time to go cloud

Investments on digital, bot and agents remain critical in 2021. These investments are all critical, but they need to be implemented on the right platform to ensure maximum success.

  • 66% of contact centers who are not using cloud today are planning to accelerate their move to the cloud as a result of the

They recognize the flexibility cloud-based solutions provide. A cloud platform allows agents to onboard quickly and seamlessly work from home. Additionally, when contact center software is in the cloud, adding and integrating new digital channels is a snap. And the open nature of cloud platforms makes integration of AI capabilities much easier compared to on-premises solutions.

 

 

Last Words on Technology

Brands will Embrace Hyperautomation

Source: Gartner

 

Hyperautomation is the idea that anything that can be automated in an organization should be automated. This mindset of “pushing automation as far as it can go” seems likely, given the current pressure to reduce costs.

Gartner predicts that organizations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy, and business agility will be left behind in 2021. Though, with customer loyalty and retention as key metrics, it is important to note that customer experience should always take precedence.

Total Experience -TX

Source: Gartner

 

Gartner’s predictions are always highly anticipated. This year, the firm’s report contained a new buzzword: “TX,” or “total experience.”

Organizations providing a TX (total experience) will outperform competitors across key satisfaction metrics

According to Gartner’s definition, total experience combines multi-experience, customer experience, employee experience, and user experience to transform the business outcome.

TX puts customers at the center of everything — from leadership and strategy to and operations and marketing. (Editors note: An idea first published by the author in 1987 in Sold on Service! And by other thought leaders at that time)

 

2.      The Need for Care, Empathy and Personalisation

 

Customers Are More Than Just Transactions

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradbirnbaum/2020/11/24/what-will-customer-service-look- like-in-the-months-to-come-predictions-for-2021/?sh=516b60a641ad

 

 

According to Covid-19 research, CX teams reported that customers valued empathetic service above all other customer service attributes during the pandemic. Consumers want to be treated like a valued customer, with real thoughts, emotions, feedback and values.

 

 

As AI and automation take on more of the busy work in the CX space, and more consumers shift to online vs. in-store shopping, customer service agents will take on a much more important — and challenging — role. They will become the face of the company, reflecting it’s values and building lifelong relationships. Think of all of the DTC disruptor brands with cult-like followings— yes they have chic branding, but they’ve also built a community of advocates based on how they treat (and value) their customer base.

 

 

2021: The Year Customer Service Becomes More Human

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradbirnbaum/2020/11/24/what-will-customer-service-look- like-in-the-months-to-come-predictions-for-2021/?sh=516b60a641ad

Empathy Rings True

The COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of empathy between brands and customers. Messages of comfort and positive support have provided assurance to consumers, as well as employees, that they are cared for during so much uncertainty.

In 2021, organisations will continue to strive for human connection with customers by responding to their needs – from setting the right expectations, to being respectful of their time and proactively meeting their requests.

Empathy will be a deciding factor in every decision – from hiring people who are naturally empathetic, to training initiatives that encourage employees to communicate more empathetically.

This will also be factored into decisions over what technology to invest in – using software, applications or processes to allow the agent to focus on truly listening and engaging with the customer.

The Future of IVR

Once deemed the most exciting development in customer service technology, interactive voice response (IVR) has become the most frustrating part of the call center experience for customers and agents alike.

Customers have grown tired of getting lost in an IVR tree which fails to provide options truly reflective of their needs, meanwhile agents all too often end up on the receiving end of their anguish.

 

In 2021, the time is ripe for disruption in this area. Intelligent omnichannel routing will improve first contact resolution by giving agents the ability to easily access subject-matter experts who are using unified communication (UC) capabilities.

Agents can connect to them during the customer engagement and bring them directly into the conversation if needed.

Forward-looking companies have already begun integrating UC, CRM and contact centers, enabling seamless communications between agents, customers and, if needed, subject-matter experts within the business, making information available at their fingertips to deliver excellent customer experiences.

In 2021, more leaders will embrace this technology to gain a competitive advantage with improved customer experience, all while lowering costs when it’s needed the most.

Hold No Longer

While phone lines won’t be going anywhere in 2021, being put on hold will. Phone support provides that all important personal connection valued most by customers, but making them wait an average of up to 20 minutes causes frustrations and shows little respect for their time.

In the year ahead, we expect to see a wider uptake in technologies that can help alleviate the irritation customers feel when they are tied to their phone. In particular, we’ll see greater investment in comprehensive workforce management systems to reduce hold times.

These can automatically and accurately forecast call volumes, allowing organisations to deploy the right number of agents to handle calls, while also leveraging flexible agent scheduling to address volume spikes.

Callback technologies will also be used more widely to manage customer service expectations. Immediate, instant, or scheduled callbacks can allow customers to keep the same spot in line and receive a call the moment an agent is free or select a time to be called later in the day.

There’s No Replacing Humans

https://financesonline.com/customer-support-trends/

Chatbots have become very popular but will not replace human agents anytime soon. Artificial intelligence has been making strides in business applications. There are a variety of ways by which companies use chatbots in customer service. But, the notion of AI replacing humans is too far down the road to actually matter at this point.

You can program chatbots to provide swift answers to simple queries. But only a human face would do in cases requiring empathy. This applies in cases like when a customer expresses disappointment over a product. In the case of AI, the technology is only as good as the information it is being fed. Again, unlike humans, AI does not consider factors that are not part of its programming.

The Need for a More Empathetic Service Experience

https://go.forrester.com/blogs/customer-service-predictions-2021/

In the predictions for 2021, this need for a more empathetic service experience dominated the thinking. Some highlights from this year’s predictions report include:

Customer service will become a lifeline for 33 million devastated consumers.

With US unemployment peaking in April, millions of individuals found themselves struggling to pay for food, bills, and other necessities. Organizations must react to provide high-quality, emotionally sensitive customer support in the flexible ways that consumers need.

 

Digital customer service interactions will increase by 40%.

The pandemic created a trend — an increased reliance on online shopping, digital financial services, and telehealth (virtual care) options — and that genie ain’t going back in the bottle. The lack of in-person services forced many consumers to use digital channels to interact with brands, and consumers will continue using these channels.

Retailers and banks will create hybrid store/contact center roles.

With the closure of brick-and-mortar locations, many employees were unable to use their skills and knowledge to provide in-person support for customers. Retail associates and bank tellers, however, are well equipped to provide online support. Brands such as Apple and Northwest Community Credit Union recognized this and shifted some of their employee base to providing virtual assistance. Other brands will follow suit.

Personalization Will (Still) Be the Key to Success

https://www.kustomer.com/blog/5-customer-experience-predictions-for-2021/

Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences to be tailored to their needs. Businesses need to focus on providing customers with relevant and valuable information. Customers demand proactive, valuable, and relevant outreach from CX teams, without having to share their personal information. What’s more, over 60% of consumers expect that companies send personalized offers or discounts based on items they’ve purchased.

The customer needs to feel valued and listened to throughout their journey with a business.

Nowadays, customer service teams can communicate with customers in their own digital spaces, through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Companies will likely increase efforts to contact customers through online platforms to provide order updates, offer support, or send promotions.

There are many ways businesses can continue to offer meaningful CX in 2021 and beyond. Make sure to know customers’ communication preferences, and personalize the conversations and outreach. Personalized emails generate six times higher transaction rates, so stop treating customers like strangers!

 

 

Voice of society metric matters

 

https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-strategic-predictions-for-2021- and-beyond/

The “voice of society” is the shared perspective of people in a community — one that works toward acceptable outcomes for all by advocating for fair and equal representation and adherence to ethical values.

By 2024, 30% of major organizations will use a new voice of society metric to act on societal issues and assess the impacts to their business performance.

Organizations must consider how society affects the performance of the business, and they have a responsibility to reduce or eliminate tone-deaf or insensitive racial and ethical concerns.

Failure to do so can be damaging to the business.

Sentiment analysts, media metrics figures and contributions to society measurements will matter in 2021, and opinion metrics are now as reliable as click-through analysis. Organizations

 

need to be able to measure what people are saying, and use composable solutions to react quickly.

Customer Frustration will Lead to Churn

https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/

According to Esteban Kolsky, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. On the other hand, if a customer is not happy, 13% of them will share their experience with 15 or even more.

The challenge here lies in the fact that, in most cases, customers don’t tell you they’re unhappy. In fact, only 1 in 26 unhappy customers actually complain.The rest, they just leave. For many companies, the absence of negative feedback is a sign of satisfaction.

But, as the research shows, this might not be the case. Customers may not be just passively unhappy, worse, they’re actively sharing their bad experiences with others.

Customer expectations are at an all-time high and it’s a tough time for companies to meet and exceed them. Even if a positive customer experience is delivered 9 out of 10 times, that one time failure could be fatal.

In their future of CX report, PwC surveyed 15,000 consumers and found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.

With 9 out of 10 businesses competing mainly on customer experience, it’s the organizations that take customer experience seriously that will stand out from the noise and win loyal customers over.

One thing is for sure, in order to deliver a positive experience, it is necessary to know customers better than ever before. This means creating complete customer profiles that help understand and measure customers’ behavior at every touch point, and across multiple channels.

Once customer sare known well enough, that knowledge can be used to personalize every interaction. Customers these days have more power and choices than ever before. Thus the responsibility for understanding and acknowledging their needs has never been greater.

Making sure their interaction with the company is smooth, pleasant and continuously improving, you will drive brand loyalty. If not, give your competitors the best gift you can – your customers.

Provide an Exceptional Personalized Customer Experience

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=14540717&article-title=top-10-customer-success-trends-for-2021&blog- domain=smartkarrot.com&blog-

With the customer data accessible, everyone in the organization can have a complete picture of the target customers and their goals. This will also provide an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the customer success process and brainstorm a wide variety of tactics and plans. Cross-functional communication plays a crucial role in creating a top-notch customer journey. With the help of the data available and through consistent communication, it would be easier to update customer records, exchange customer information, and generate comprehensive insights.

According to Forrester Research, over 72% of the businesses say that improving customer success would be their top priority.

 

The Foremost Priority will be Proactive Engagement

With the customers in the driver’s seat, it is wise for the businesses to commence and integrate customer-centric philosophy across every sector. To nurture the customer’s ambitions, modify delivery accordingly, and proactively improve your brand value.

Merely supplying the products, providing support, and checking in periodically won’t suffice, constantly make efforts, identify the growth opportunities, and work on the churn rates and revenue models.

To achieve this, just ask yourself these salient questions:

  • First, How can my product/service deliver more value to the customers?
  • Second, How my business can enhance relationships with customers?
  • Third, How can my business perform better than competitors?

Deliver Personalized Experience to the Customer with Superior Dynamics

Personalization is going to be the most outstanding trend in 2021. Every customer loves to be approached individually, listened to , and get exact solutions to their problems.

To make things easier, many businesses have deployed the concept of dynamic assignment that automatically matches the new customers with the right person at the right time.

The outcomes

  • Efficient delivery of personalized experience to the
  • Developing a solid relationship with the customers improving retention
  • Enhanced Customer Lifetime Value(CLV)

To sum up, ‘Get Personal’ with your customers, remind them what they’ve achieved with your products, and set the milestones for them. This strengthens the bond between both the parties and paves the foundation for future success.

Over 62% of the businesses are willing to invest to meet the changing demands of customers to provide a positive experience.

Development and Engagement of Customer Health Score Metrics

Beyond individual tickets and cold emails, it is equally important to see if the customer actually values your product or services. Long gone are the days when customer support was just signing on the dotted line, setting up the new service, and answering calls and emails. Today, to survive in the long run consistently follow up with the customers, rectify their problems, and see if they are thriving with your product.

Implementing customer health scores is a much more hefty process than you think. The elements involved and the metrics truly define what “customer health” actually means for the business.

 

  1. The Increasing Importance of the Customer Experience Customer Experience the Key Brand Differentiator https://superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/

Customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses and 2021 will be no different. But, why are so many companies focusing on the customer experience and what happens to companies that choose to ignore it?

Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. If keeping up with their increasing demands is not achieved,the customers will leave.

Cross-device shopping via a wide range of channels has made it difficult for companies to maintain consistency. Processes and technologies need to change in order to provide a consistent experience across all platforms.

It wasn’t too long ago when every business claimed that the key to winning customers was in the quality of the product or service they deliver. But, things have changed.Now, an even more important success factor has appeared.

Providing the best customer experience. 1,920 business professionals were asked to share their number one priority for the next 5 years.The results?

Customer experience (or CX) came in first (beating product and pricing).

It’s no surprise that customer experience is the number one priority. The Temkin Group found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience.

Investing in CX initiatives has the potential to double your revenue within 36 months.So, where is this revenue growth coming from?

The customer’s wallet.

A good customer experience means your customers will spend more.In fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.The more expensive the item, the more they are willing to pay, according to a research from PWC.

For example, customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great customer experience.

CX also influences on-the-spot purchasing, too – as 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience.

But the most convincing reason why CX has become so important is this:

A Walker study found that at the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

The most important trends.

Customer experience is the new battlefield

No one wants to do business with a company that treats its customers poorly.

How customers feel after an interaction with a customer service center has a huge impact on future purchase decisions. A good interaction keeps customers happy and satisfied, while a poor interaction could leads stopping doing business with that company again. It’s because of these extremes why 88% of companies now prioritize customer experience in their contact centers.

 

In fact, more than two-thirds of companies(66%+) now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from only 36% in 2010!

Therefore, to give customers a positive experience, it is necessary to invest in it.

The sad news is that less than half of all organizations (44%) will be investing in the customer experience next year.

 

 

Mobile Customer Experience is a Priority

When it comes to providing a positive experience across different channels, mobile customer service is expected to soar. The reason is simple – a bad mobile experience can do serious damage to a brand!

  • 57% of customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on And if a website isn’t mobile-friendly,
  • 50% of customers will stop visiting it, even if they like the
  • 52% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile, with desktop usage on a trending
  • 84% of companies who claim to be customer-centric are now focusing on the mobile customer

 

It’s no longer the question whether the mobile experience is important or not.

However, for companies that aren’t, they’ve been slow to adapt to this trend – especially when it comes to customer support – as an overwhelming

  • 90% of customers report having a poor experience when seeking customer support on mobile

The most common complaints being navigation, site search and load times.There is a huge gap that needs to be taken seriously.If customers cannot navigate a website with ease and find what they are looking for, then you frustrate them. And you lose them.

Self-service help will be the first choice

In 2021, companies should ensure that customers are able to find answers to their questions using a wide-range of self-service options.

  • 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company
  • 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base, if it were available and tailored to their
  • 25% of all customer interactions were automated through AI and machine
  • 90% of companies now planning to deploy AI within 3 years, this number is expected to grow to 40% by

Customers are willing to find the answers themselves. So much so, that by 2030, Gartner estimates that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.To handle this demand, companies are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI).In the short-term make sure that when a customer has a problem, the right tools are available to them, so they can solve it, themselves.

 

 

In 2021 and Beyond, CX Will Be More Important Than Ever

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradbirnbaum/2020/11/24/what-will-customer-service-look- like-in-the-months-to-come-predictions-for-2021/?sh=516b60a641ad

As customer service takes on an increasingly vital role, having the right technology and tools in place can go a long way in helping organizations and agents cope with long-term changes and challenges. Organizations should look for technology that allows for collaboration between remote team members, provides agents with the freedom to move between channels, and brings all the data about a customer into one place to help deliver a more efficient, personalized experience. In addition, relying on AI and chatbots can save significant time for customers and agents and help arm agents with all the information they need to quickly and accurately service their customers.

In 2020, the influx in customer service inquiries, the immensely challenging questions, the need to provide empathy and humanity during an incredibly stressful time, were all imperative.

During and beyond 2021 and , customer service organizations will need to embrace these changes to not only deliver on customer demand, but help drive revenue in the process.

 

 

Customer Success is going to be the Centre Of Attraction

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=14540717&article-title=top-10-customer-success-trends-for-2021&blog- domain=smartkarrot.com&blog-title=smartkarrot

All are acutely aware of the global pandemic situation prevailing in 2020. If this year sees an economic slowdown or recession, customer success will be the first sector that will be affected. The entire sector will be centralized on customer success and not just the CS team. It would be a pivotal job of every single entity related to the organization to care about the customer goals.

For this, the CS team needs to take a few things into consideration:

  • Share customer data over a single platform making it accessible for
  • Establishing cross-functional
  • Provide an exceptional personalized customer experience

With customer data accessible, everyone in the organization can have a complete picture of the target customers and their goals. This will also provide an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the customer success process and brainstorm a wide variety of tactics and plans. Cross-functional communication plays a crucial role in creating a top-notch customer journey. With the help of the data available and through consistent communication, it would be easier to update customer records, exchange customer information, and generate comprehensive insights.

Customer Experience Will be One of the Greatest Priorities

Customers want better service from their vendors more now than ever. Companies have realized how important it is to give greater experience to the customers. Gone are the days when customer service used to be a “good-to-have” function in the business.

By the beginning of year 2021, customer experience would overtake price and performance of the product as the key brand differentiator. Businesses have to increase their spending on a customer experience platform. A constant monitoring on the customer health score is must to keep the customer in the green zone.

 

4.     Channel and Omnichannel Management

Every Experience on Every Channel and Platform

 

 

CX should matter to brands and businesses. Multiple statistics conclude CX is a make-or-break reason why consumers will work with a company or not. And it’s not just how a brand treats them online or in-person. According to this year’s “Connected Shopper Report” from Salesforce, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage, including social networks, in-person, online, or mobile.

More Businesses Will Switch to an Omnichannel Approach

Customer experience is becoming complex, with 51% of businesses using at least eight channels for CX alone.

https://www.kustomer.com/blog/5-customer-experience-predictions-for-2021/

In 2020, many businesses closed up shop and transferred themselves completely online. Many are still adapting to new strategies of providing digital customer service, as well as enhancing their CX to cater to customer expectations in a virtual space.

Into 2021, brands need to focus on providing seamless, omnichannel CX to foster brand equity and drive sales.

Consumers demand consistent and highly personalized experiences as they interact with brands on various digital devices. For example, they might start interacting with a brand on Twitter and continue the conversation through e-mail. They’ll expect a seamless and integrated experience, no matter the platform.

A successful omnichannel CX seamlessly integrates online and offline communication channels to form a unified and unforgettable experience from the first to last point of contact.

If a customer base is interacting with a brand through phone, e-mail, live chat, social media, and SMS, as well as offline, a unified customer experience is a must.

In 2021 and beyond more businesses will

  • further their digital transformation using instant communication to remove friction throughout the customer journey
  • tap into customer data to personalize
  • brands acclimatize to an omnichannel customer service approach with increased virtual

The challenge

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=15049306&article-title=customer-service-trends-for-2021&blog- domain=glowtouch.com&blog-title=glowtouch

Omnichannel support: chat, phone, email, messaging apps, and other avenues are all available. The challenge for organizations is to combine them into a seamless ecosystem that provides a consistent customer journey. At least some of these channels offer real-time support; email is an exception though it still has a place in the mix, especially when an immediate response is unnecessary.

Otherwise, fast resolution of issues in real-time has a bottom-line

 

The Importance of Multi-channel Servicing will Increase

https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/

Companies interact with their customers across multiple channels, which can be through forms on their website, live chat, social media and more.

However, while customers may be positive and accept different service levels from different channels, they also expect that the communication remains consistent providing a consistent experience across all channels, both online and offline.

It can be challenging, but the gold standard here is IKEA.

A visit to any IKEA store around the world, delivers the same experience. IKEA invests heavily into customer experience. This year alone,IKEA opened more stores, invested in its home delivery network and launched a brand new app – all to the benefit of their customer.

And the pay off has been huge! Not only is IKEA one of the most beloved companies in the world, but their annual revenues have now reached more than $40 billion worldwide.

It’s this level of execution and result that is driving more companies to invest in the omni- channel experience, in their 2020 report, PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omni-channel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%. Adobe recently found that companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies enjoy a 10% Y-O-Y growth, a 10% increase in average order value and a 25% increase in close rates.

 

 

Today’s Consumers Make Purchases Using Multiple Devices

https://financesonline.com/customer-support-trends/

A vast majority of today’s consumers make purchases using different devices. Single-channel support cannot track a customer’s journey. This is especially true if that customer keeps on jumping from one device to another. Only by offering omnichannel support will one be able to serve a customer at all stages of the journey.

Offering omnichannel support will give customers a high-quality experience. This is regardless of the way they make contact. If a customer calls customer service and later sends an email.

Omnichannel supports eliminates the need to ask for the customer’s data again. This is one of many key customer care trends,

  • Consumers contact customer support from different
  • Omnichannel support offers customers high-quality
  • Omnichannel support eliminates the need for customers to refurnish agents with their

 

Substantial Investment in Customer Journey Mapping

The journey of a customer doesn’t end when they buy a product, but it actually begins much earlier and crystalises from that very moment. The process begins through awareness and goes through advocacy. Throughout the entire journey, it is vital to understand customers, their behaviours and perceptions, obtain feedback, and improve their overall experience and to determine the touchpoints based on the feedback, deliver accordingly, and drive feature usage.

With the smart technology and data-driven comprehensive insights available, it has become a cakewalk for the CS teams to readily measure and map the customer journey.

Why is Customer Journey Mapping so important in Omnichannel Management? It can:

 

  • Help to develop channel preference data(CPD) to guide omnichannel development
  • Build alignment between teams for a better success
  • Help measure and optimize customer
  • Monitor customer success and define
  • Plan content and marketing strategies to drive revenue and

It’s equally crucial to understand that customer journey mapping is not just one-and-done thing. It’s a continuously changing process and will keep evolving with time.

Outbound Omni-Channel Contact Too

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=14540717&article-title=top-10-customer-success-trends-for-2021&blog- domain=smartkarrot.com&blog-title=smartkarrot

Keep your customers engaged and connect with them via Multiple Channels

Sending a plethora of emails and newsletters to your customers and some potentials to generate leads may not get as much response as expected

It is ineffective reaching out to the customers and getting sufficient engagement. Sharing even valuable content via fascinating templates won’t work in the long run. As most customers are staying indoors in the pandemic situation, only digital platforms will help to get the necessary reach. The goal is to interact with them and give them articles to read.

Through the analysis obtained from the customer database, create outreach campaigns not just via emails, but through various social media platforms. Make sure that it reaches the right customer, and encourage them to reply, and spread the word. Responses obtained through these campaigns provide both positive and negative feedback and helps to better understand customers. In turn, it also develops an efficacious connection between both parties.

In the recent report, PWC found the number of companies investing in omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%

 

 

Changing customer journeys will keep everyone on their toes

https://www.customerexperienceupdate.com/2021/trends/?open-article- id=14993857&article-title=wave-goodbye-to-2020–what-s-in-store-for-2021-&blog- domain=customerservicemanager.com&blog-title=csm-magazine

As more contact centers use real-time metrics to manage CX as it happens, it will no longer be acceptable to look at old data to make decisions. Surges in e-commerce and speedy adoption of digital services have changed customer behaviour. This move to digital channels is likely to continue for the medium to long term, making it more important than ever for companies to continually re-think how they engage with customers. Meanwhile, the continued reticence of customers to visit in-store will continue to drive demand for online shopping and the sharp increase in order volumes and delivery delays will inevitably cause more queries into contact centers and other contact channels.

 

 

 

Popular Customer Support Software That May Help

  1. Vision Helpdesk. A customer support solution that enables businesses to conveniently handle all support transactions in a single

 

  1. JitBit HelpDesk. Offers an efficient system for tracking and handling customer support
  2. Qualtrics CX. A robust customer support platform for helping businesses provide seamless customer
  3. A comprehensive customer support solution that streamlines business-client communication and collaboration.
  4. Zoho Helps businesses consistently provide quality customer support.

 

 

  1. Other Advice

The Road Further Ahead

Most of the predictions reviewed above foresee an evolving landscape with technology designed to improve the customer experience and maintain an empathetic interface with them. The Garner predictions copied verbatim below foresee more paradigm shifts in the world of customer experience management with greater implications for those engaged with leadership in the customer service environment.

 

Gartner Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

 

https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-strategic-predictions-for-2021- and-beyond/

 

1.      Traditional technology tanks

 

By 2025, traditional computing technologies will hit a digital wall, forcing the shift to new computing paradigms such as neuromorphic computing.

As conventional silicon processors approach performance, economic and sustainability limits, they will limit digital initiatives and innovation, thereby limiting the growth of the business. New computing technologies, like neuromorphic computing — a computer that thinks and acts more like the human brain — will begin to take their place. As these new technologies mature, they will become increasingly available and more affordable for businesses to begin experimentation.

Read more: 7 Digital Disruptions You Might Not See Coming In The Next 5 Years

2.      DNA storage becomes a reality BIG IDEA

By 2024, 30% of digital businesses will mandate DNA storage trials, addressing the exponential growth of data poised to overwhelm existing storage technology.

People are collecting exponential amounts of data, more than has ever been collected before. Increasingly, the main challenge is not collecting the data — it’s storing it long term in a safe way. Right now, most data can be stored for a maximum of 30 years

All of human knowledge could be stored in a small amount of synthetic DNA

DNA storage enables the storage of binary digital data in the double helix, taking binary coding and turning it into coding that fits in the human DNA strand. It would mean a year’s worth of

 

human knowledge could be stored in a gram of synthetic DNA for thousands of years. In fact, all of human knowledge could be stored in a small amount of synthetic DNA.

Digital data (i.e., music, video, statistics) would be encoded in the nucleic acid base pairs of synthetic DNA strands. It sounds complex, but the technology is actually well-established and understood.

 

 

 

3.      Physical experiences expand

By 2025, 40% of physical-experiences businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by extending into paid virtual.

As the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality, digital twins and other technologies evolve, immersive experiences are now more affordable, and more fun. Businesses that provide physical experiences, like rock climbing or white-water rafting, must extend into paid virtual reality, offering virtual experiences that rival the physical ones.

At the same time, COVID-19 transformed attitudes about physical versus virtual, and changed the discussion about what people can do without physically being present or putting their safety at risk.

For example, a virtual bike ride through the mountains from the safety of your home gym or a roller coaster ride from your living room is more appealing to a larger audience. Beyond that, these immersive experiences enable people to relive in-person experiences long after they’re over or even share those experiences in real time with people who can’t join them.

4.      Farms and factories face automation

By 2025, customers will be the first humans to touch more than 20% of the products and produce in the world.

Currently, a lot of people touch products and produce before they reach their ultimate destination, but automated factories and farms will soon do most of the work, including farming, picking, packing and shipping. New technologies are automating most processes, and that ability to automate will change how businesses operate and how they think about their business models.

Again, COVID-19 has acted as an accelerator, driving the industry to find new and improved ways of getting food and products to consumers. Additionally, as the technology continues to evolve, offering better automated factories — maybe ones that don’t squash the grapes — will one day act as a competitive advantage.

5.      CIOs become chief operating officers (COOs)

By 2024, 25% of traditional large-enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy.”

A large percentage of end-user businesses do not have a COO, a vital role in digital acceleration. This is someone who understands the business and ecosystem and how to implement technology for greater impact.

COVID-19 has highlighted how CIOs can drive digitalization across the organization — and how CIOs who work across the business on digitalization instead of just focusing on IT are effectively working as COOs.

 

As a “COO by proxy,” the CIO will take on the organizationwide role and begin to close the gaps between what the technology can do, what the business can do and what the business wants to do. As they close these gaps, they can create business value and selectively create composability in the business.

6.      Recorded work conversations drive change

By 2025, 75% of conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed, enabling the discovery of added organizational value or risk.

Every piece of technology, from smart speakers to virtual meetings to messaging platforms, now records conversations. Privacy is an illusion. Organizations need to begin to think about how to collect that data, how to analyze it and how to use it to improve the employee experience.

For example, it might be possible to measure — and work on improving — overall employee satisfaction. However, all this data collection comes at a risk. Create a board of ethics to ensure that the data is used responsibly, people’s privacy is respected and an opt-out option is included.

7.      Freelance customer service experts increase

By 2025, customers will pay a freelance customer service expert to resolve 75% of their customer service issues.

Everyone has experienced the frustration of a bad customer service setup, and many turn to outside help (Google, YouTube, Facebook) to navigate tricky situations. In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2021, there will be a 15% rise in customers seeking outside help after being frustrated by traditional support channels.

The good news is that this means organizations will have reduced costs in certain customer service areas. The bad news is that more instances of outside help removes an important company-consumer touchpoint.

The best outside help will cost money, which means paying for a faster solution. Organizations should look to build a network of experts to help their customers, but also take the time to understand the legal ramifications of using third-party experts.

8.      Voice of society metric matters

By 2024, 30% of major organizations will use a new voice of society metric to act on societal issues and assess the impacts to their business performance.

The “voice of society” is the shared perspective of people in a community — one that works toward acceptable outcomes for all by advocating for fair and equal representation and adherence to ethical values.

Organizations must consider how society affects the performance of the business, and they have a responsibility to reduce or eliminate tone-deaf or insensitive racial and ethical concerns.

Failure to do so can be damaging to the business.

Sentiment analysts, media metrics figures and contributions to society measurements will matter in 2021, and opinion metrics are now as reliable as click-through analysis. Organizations need to be able to measure what people are saying, and use composable solutions to react quickly.

9.      On-site childcare entices employees

By 2023, large organizations will increase employee retention by more than 20% through repurposing office space as on-site childcare and education facilities.

 

Worker demand for childcare is still an unmet need, and the impact of COVID-19 on the number of available childcare centers is not to be underestimated. Gartner predicts that by early 2021, 20% of private childcare centers will have closed permanently, leaving a dearth of qualified providers. The impact of this will be especially hard on women in the workforce.

Accessible on-site childcare can increase retention, employee engagement and productivity. Plus, not having to choose between childcare and a job may result in more women in leadership positions over the long term. Organizations with on-site childcare will attract more candidates. This is also an effective way to use empty office space as businesses move toward more remote workers.

10. Malicious content takes over

By 2024, content moderation services for user-generated content will be surveyed as a top CEO priority by 30% of large organizations.

Any organizations that have an online presence, from social media to retailer platforms, face the challenge of how to deal with malicious content. Brand advertisers must neutralize polarizing content, and at the very least, show a balance between views. Eventually, industry standards for content moderation will emerge, but in the meantime, CIOs must invest in content moderation services, enforcement and reporting.

 

 

WORTH A LOOK

A site worth a look for an insight overview is https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/#

 

Some Extracted Statistics

Throughout the desk research for this White Paper various research statistics were uncovered either in the form of tables or as part of a text made point. These have been aggregated and reported back in 5 group tables

 

Customer Experience Issues

%
Customers expect companies to offer support through social media 63

 

62

 

57

 

72

 

67

 

68

 

86

 

13

 

49

 

88

 

67

 

47

 

44

 

400

 

 

 

 

10

10

25

 

 

 

33

 

32

 

21

 

13

Source Value walk.com
And Customers shared bad experiences withothers
Customers stopped buying from a business because a competitor offered a better experience
Also, Customers shared good experience with others
Customers willing to pay more for a great experience
Source: Salesforce Reseach
A pleasant representative is key to a positive service experience
Source American Express
Buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
Percent customers are willing to pay a price premium for luxury and indulgence services
Buyers msking impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience.
Companies that now prioritize customer experience in their contact centers
Companies now competing primarily on the basis of customer experience –
All organizations investing in the customer experience next year.
Those companies increasing investment in their CX initiatives
% Increase in the number of companies investing in the omni-channel experience has jumped
Source PWC
Companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies enjoy a
Source Adobe
YOY Growth
AVG Order Value
Closing Rate +

The Most Important Aspect of Customer Service According to Customers

Friendly and knowledgeable agent
Resolving the issue in a single transaction
Not having to repeat myself
Getting response and information without contacting support

 

Online Shopping Issue

%
Percentage of retail shoppers who abandon purchases after adding items to their cart. 75

 

55

 

34

 

26

 

21

 

17

 

17

 

16

 

11

 

6

 

4

source Baymard Survey
Extra costs too high
Had to creat an account
Long or complex process
Cannot see total cost
Did not trust site
Website errors or crashes
Delivery too slow
Returns Policy
Lack of payment options
Card declined

 

 

 

Mobile Issues

%
Customers reporting having a poor experience when seeking customer support on mobile devices. 90

84

66

57

55

52

52

50

 

90

75

40

20

Companies claiming to be customer-centric now focusing on the mobile customer experience.
Frustrating experience hurts overall opinion of brand
Customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.
Bad mobile experience leading to disengagement
Internet traffic now coming from mobile, with desktop on a trending decline.
Bad mobile experience leading to disapointment in a liked brand
Customers stopping visiting not mobile-friendly website, even if they like the business.
Reasons for Disengagement
Incorrect Display / Difficult to Navigate
Search results unhelpful
Slow load time
Site not searchable

 

Self Service

%
Customers prefering self-service over speaking to a company representative. 67

 

91

 

25

 

90

 

40

 

90

Customers Propensity to use online knowledge base, if available and tailored to their needs.
% of all customer interactions automated through AI and machine learning. 2019
Companies planning to deploy AI within 3 years
% of all customer interactions automated through AI and machine learning 2023 expectation
Businesses competing mainly on customer experience

 

Working From Home (WFH)

%
Effice workers prefering to continue working remotely at least some of time 82

73

Executives saying working remotely has been a success.
According to PWC

 

Omnichannel Management – A New Approach

In the year ahead it is likely that because of

  1. The constraints of the Covid 19 Pandemic and the continuing migration away from offline to online in many sectors
  2. The increased number of channel options available to customers
  3. Customers adoption of multiple channels to interact with organisations

many organisations continue to find difficulty in adapting their existing corporate management models to what is now described by some as “The New Normal”.

Having all real time customer data available to all channels at all times is the base line challenge for omnichannel service delivery that delivers a consistent customer experience across any or all channels the customer chooses to use.

At present the customer in both the public and private sectors and B2B and B2C sectors has a choice of interaction channels which include
  1. Face to Face / offline
    1. Organisation owned
    2. Third Party owned
  2. Telephone Landline
  3. Mobile
    1. Smartphone
    2. Tablet
  4. Online Internet
    1. Computer
  5. Social Media
  6. IVR/Chatbots
  7. AI – Various
  8. Postal/catalogue
  9. Combinations of Any of the Above

 

Other challenges include
  1. Tracking and forecasting demand across all channels
  2. Avoiding customer frustration caused by
    1. Multiple repetition of their interaction
    2. Long hold times
    3. Not having the issue resolved
    4. Being told “What you have to understand is….”
    5. Half-baked AI, chatbot and IVR processes
    6. Having to have issues “referred”

and trying to resolve such issues with a traditional top down, departmental/silo structured organisation (e.g. banks /utilities) or a even highly decentralised organisation (e.g. fast food franchise /automotive) that struggles to organise its customer experience delivery and manage its feedback knowledge has proven to be difficult for many organisations.

The management model also has to consider the customer purchase journey which in its simplest terms could include
  • Awareness: the consumer becomes familiar with the brand/product/service through any of a number of communication media
  • Consideration: identifying they have a want or need, the consumer actively considers whether or not to buy the product or service on offer, a process that may include
    • Comparison with competitors’ products
    • Other buyers’ experiences with the product/service & organisation
    • Their past experience with the organisation
    • Delivery options/dates/times
    • Communication process/performance of the organisation
  • Purchase: the consumer makes the
  • Retention: the customer uses the product, sometimes seeking service information from the supplier or a user community, and perhaps being contacted by the supplier to encourage brand
  • Advocacy: the customer spreads the word about their experience prompted or unprompted – whether their opinion is positive or negative. If negative, feedback on the internet it can remain there permanently
If tomorrow’s management models are to successfully optimise customer demand arriving via multiple channels and (not or) deliver the highest level customer experience they must be
  1. Highly flexible – meaning able to be rapidly responsive to meet dynamic customer demand
  2. Synthesisable – meaning to be able to reconfigure to rapid market change
  3. Vigilant – constantly gathering data and scanning for development opportunity
  4. Controllable – When necessary able to take central strategic command

So Where Could Such a Model be Found?

The unlikely source for a new idea for a management model appropriate for delivering a consistently high-level customer experience and being able to respond to the different demands of different channels comes from the sea.

The octopus is a remarkable creature in so many ways. Everyone knows they have
  1. Three hearts
  2. Blue blood
  3. Eight arms
  4. The same amount of neurons as a dog
  5. The ability to use tools – including child proof bottles
  6. The capability to change colour and shape
  7. The ability to produce ink and toxins
  8. The ability to sense light through their skin But most importantly for this idea
  9. Nine Brains These brains are situated
One as a central brain with two main functions
  1. Two Optic Lobes (30% of Neurons)
  2. Central Nervous System(10% of Neurons
Eight – one in each arm that allows each arm to (60% of Neurons)
  1. Work independently of each other, yet together toward the same
  2. Work in coordination with one or more other arms
  3. Smell and taste Check it out octopuses on this link

https://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-the-octopus-brain-is-so-extraordinary-claudio-l-guerra

The eyes are very important to the octopus hence the major allocation of neurons evolution has allocated to its optic lobes. Their function is to search the environment for food (customers), shelter (revenue and profit) and predators(competitors).

The central nervous system is responsible for manoeuvring the whole creature strategically around to positions where food is to be found and for rapid repositioning of the animal in the case of danger or opportunity.

The arms explore for local opportunity acting independently for the routine gathering of food (customer interface) without any need for central direction or control. Each arm is equipped with all the tools they need to do the job. Almost limitless flexibility. a light sensitive skin, a sense of smell and taste plus myriads of suckers plus and an always open communication channel to central control. Activity messaging continuously sent to the central nervous system which learns and relearns and remembers multiple reflex responses to new situations.

In the octopus the allocation of brain neurons is allocated as Central Nervous System                                              10%

Optic Lobes                                                       30%

Arms     (7.5% Each)                                      60%

So the eyes are the major single beneficiary of this allocation.

 

 

So imagine the OCTAGILITY!© managed organisation.

The evidence above in the white paper points to the need for a focus on the need to manage the customer experience and have the organisational agility and flexibility to adapt to create lasting competitive advantage

The starting point is to gather the food the organisation needs to survive and grow, its customers, who are the only source of revenue for any organisation. So the central nervous system is a cloud based information system that is built from the customer up. (not from the finance department down) Its data is loaded real time from the customer interactions of each of its channel arms. Each channel arm is specifically designed and fully equipped to meet the present and evolving transactional needs of that channel’s customers; every customer interaction is recorded on the central nervous system in a customer specific file.

Each channel specific arm also has a live connection to the central nervous system database. If/when a customer contacts the organisation via a different channel that channel has real time access to the position of the customer in their transactional journey.

The function of the “Eyes”(the largest function) of the OCTAGILITY!© system is to continuously monitor the performance of every channel arm in terms of usage, quality and customer feedback and to gather market intelligence on competitor’s (predator) activity and opportunities for growth (more food) both within and without the existing customer base.

The central nervous system has the role of continuously analysing threat and opportunity and moving the whole body of the animal to minimise threat and optimise opportunity using real time data, trend analysis and forecasting modelling.

What about the old “really important” functions like finance, human resources, marketing et al?

Their need for data can be supplied from the central nervous system but now in real time so enhancing their decision making agility.

Who controls the central nervous system? As the Gartner Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2021 and Beyond suggests

CIOs become chief operating officers (COOs)

 

By 2024, 25% of traditional large-enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results, effectively becoming “COO by proxy.”

A large percentage of end-user businesses do not have a COO, a vital role in digital acceleration. This is someone who understands the business and ecosystem and how to implement technology for greater impact.

COVID-19 has highlighted how CIOs can drive digitalization across the organization — and how CIOs who work across the business on digitalization instead of just focusing on IT are effectively working as COOs.

As a “COO by proxy,” the CIO will take on the organization wide role and begin to close the gaps between what the technology can do, what the business can do and what the business wants to do. As they close these gaps, they can create business value and selectively create composability in the business.

Article by Philip Forrest – President of the International Institute for Customer Experience ( ICXI )

 

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