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  • Deborah Hayes

Customer Experience Trends You Should Know for 2021

Recently I bought a gift for my friend from a company that she and I love. I wrapped the gift box with care and was so excited for her to open it. To my embarrassment, two of the three items I ordered were missing from the box. I know, I know, I should’ve checked first before I wrapped. The really bad part was that it took the company three days to get back to me when I contacted them. I emailed, called, and tried “live” chat on their website - all three gave me a message, no actual person answered. Though I’ve ordered from them many times over the years, and they have not lost me as a customer, it took just this one negative experience to shake the trust I once had for them.

Customer experience is the combined set of interactions throughout the customer journey. When done correctly, customer experience can increase return customer rate, intensify customer loyalty, and lead to recommendations from customers! Especially in the time of COVID, shopping behaviors have changed dramatically. Not only will you not see customers in store as routinely as before, but shopping preferences in-store have changed too. Now, customers are less likely to engage with samples and are more likely to shop online. Now, more than ever, trust is key. Customers must feel like people are more important than profits, both as consumers and as employees. So, let’s take a look at the upcoming customer experience trends that will help your company build customer rapport in 2021.

First, your customer experience should be about values in action. Focus on building a company culture that provides resources and trainings for employees so they can provide consistent service, understand every segmentation of your audience, and have difficult conversations. Start by defining your company values. These values should drive your behavior and when combined with crystal clear messaging, your consumers will truly feel your brand.

Next, think about the connections that change behavior. Customers that feel an emotional connection are three times more likely to recommend and re-purchase from your brand. Think psychologically about thoughtfulness. How can you show that you acknowledge and understand your consumers? Focus on cultivating a relationship of trust, where the value of emotional connection is customer centric.

Finally, remember that customer service is an integral part of customer experience. Moving into 2021, service will be more valuable than product. As people begin to re-examine their priorities, consumers are starting to center on experiences over things. For this reason, finding ways to incorporate experiential aspects into the consumer journey will boost overall experience. Think about which ways your brand can use concept stores, teaching resources, personalization, or community programs to build service into the cornerstone of your strategy. Likewise, make sure you have a system in place for receiving and adapting to feedback. Recently, there is a trend of combining engineering and service initiatives, since customer feedback can influence both product and service. Collecting customer feedback in real-time and then using that feedback to cultivate team development is an integral feedback loop to improve satisfaction and efficiency. Don’t forget, in a world ruled by technology, human connection is actually a luxury! Make sure you are incorporating personal touches, loyalty programs, interactive shopping experiences, and engaging all senses to build personal connections with your customers! Customer Service is the foundation of effective customer experience.

Here are 5 trends coming up in the next year:

  1. Relationships are more important that transactions. More and more, customers are paying more attention to their experience with your company than the actual product or services.

  2. Focusing on customer experience (which should not be confused with customer service) will set you apart from your competition. Many companies are still not treating it as a priority.

  3. Hire a dedicated customer experience (CX) leader or consultant who reports directly to the CEO to ensure any necessary changes can be made immediately. Customer experience education is essential to keep up with 2021 customer experience trends.

  4. Having a CX plan to ensure a seamless customer journey. The majority of consumers want to use different channels depending on their context. Customer experience strategy provides that necessary context.

  5. Websites are hot again. With so much more online shopping, your website is now a star in your customers’ journey, so give that part the budget and attention it deserves.

According to Liliana Petrova with Customer Think, “As we begin Q4 of an eventful 2020, it’s time to look out for the 2021 customer experience trends and tactics for creating exceptional experiences in increasingly complex environments.”

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