By Paddy Morrissey

It goes without saying that we have just been through a transformative and defining fifteen months. Companies the world over had to react fast, adapting and rethinking how they operate, often digitising their offering. Many were forced to change entire business models, quickly shifting online just to survive the year. Employees were thrust into full-time home working, replacing meeting rooms with virtual video calls. High streets were emptied, with consumers now interacting with brands solely online. Suffice to say, 2020 brought with it an unexpected but welcome digital transformation across many areas, that in ‘normal’ times may have taken ten years plus to achieve. So, what have we learned from that transformative year and how has it impacted customers and their experiences?

Empathy and brand

The last year has shown us that empathy is perhaps now the most important trait to exhibit, particularly in our interactions with customers. Many found themselves in a tough position financially, uncertain about their future and worried about incoming bills and making future payments. This uncertainty brought with it worry and anxiety and much higher than normal customer service interactions for brands globally. As a result, we have seen a huge rise in authenticity and human realness - consumers want to know that brands care about them. In fact, Forbes recently reported that they expect 59% of consumers to care more about customer experience than they did pre-Covid.

A successful CX strategy is no longer simply about hitting metrics; it’s about taking a human-centred approach and deploying conversational, personable messaging with each and every customer interaction. Empathic interactions continue to be a focus for 2021. That, teamed with the right culture and operational policies, will mean we can continue to put customers first.

Digital CX

Customers have become more empowered in how they interact with brands, thanks to the wider choice of digital channels available. Traditional in-person or by-phone customer service channels are no longer at the forefront, people want innovative flexible, quick, user-friendly, and easily accessible digital channels to find answers to their queries. Companies need to ensure a consistent digital presence to converse with customers, to answer queries quickly and to monitor brand mentions.

Whether it’s online transactions, or marketing communications, or customer service via social media or webchat, or voice-based customer support, going forward, your CX strategy must incorporate both digital and traditional channels, in order to reduce customer effort and increase retention.

Research and customer insights

With more intelligent insight than ever before at our fingertips, we can now tap into data, analytics, and qualitative research to understand our customers and their behaviour. Thanks to unrelenting online interactions and information streaming, comment sections and never-ending social media feeds in the last fifteen months, there has never been a better time to stop, listen and find out more about our buyer personas.

Consumers continue to publicly share both good and bad interactions with brands online, we need to make sure we are present and listening. Research from PwC found that 32% of customers will abandon a brand after just one bad experience. Providing excellent customer service is crucial; understanding customer behaviour and feedback can be key to this, and to developing lasting brand loyalty.

Through behavioural insight and by expertly gauging the customer’s journey and their interactions with a brand, particularly when they join, use, leave, renew or complain, we can ensure all their future experiences are good ones.

Understanding the long-lasting effects of this transformative fifteen months will help refine your CX strategy - a little research really does go a long way. Find out how your competitors reacted, what are they now doing differently? Which online channels are my customers using currently? How can I best interact with them? How can I make their lives easier? What are the latest market trends and industry insights telling me? And of course, do some social listening – what are people saying about my brand online, and how can I move the conversation in the right direction?

If you would like to re-design a better customer experience, that really fits your company’s and customer’s needs, please get in touch.