While it’s likely that brick-and-mortar stores will bounce back to some degree once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the increased use of ecommerce and e-service platforms is here to stay. It’s difficult to make generalizations about what all consumers want, but there are some common trends that you need to be aware of when building your customer interfaces in the ‘new normal’.
1. Seamless communication
We all know that the growth of mobile technology and social media have opened up new channels of communication where customers expect brands to be responsive to their issues.
Crucially, though, new research indicates that customers also expect to be able to switch between these channels seamlessly, without having to repeat information. The 2020 Gladly Customer Expectations Report found that as much as 85% of consumers expect conversations with agents to move seamlessly between channels, and in real time.
As a result, you need to offer an integrated, multi-channel contact service. Keep in mind that customers also prefer different channels depending on the nature of their enquiry. For simple enquiries, like checking an account balance, self-service or email are preferred. For more complex issues, the ability to contact an agent directly becomes more important.
The key takeaway from this is that you need to meet the customer where they are.
2. Personalized experience
Although there is a certain desire for anonymity among consumers, with a widespread emphasis on data privacy and security, a personalized experience is becoming more central to a satisfying digital journey. This is borne from studies that confirm almost 70% of consumers want an interface that is tailored to their preferences. This number will likely only get higher as we spend more time browsing and purchasing online.
This kind of experience can include personalized emails, product recommendations and customized online shelves based on selected preferences and previous buying habits. To tap into this ongoing trend, you must harness the potential of AI and in-depth user data to collate information about their preferences and design a unique offering relevant to each individual customer.
3. Care and connection
When it comes to engaging with your customers through social media and digital content, you need to be a resource they can trust. In increasingly uncertain times, consumers are going to look to brands that align with their values and take care of them; research by McKinsey shows that 64% of customers now choose to buy from socially responsible companies.
For a new generation of digital natives, the journey of discovering those brands begins online, usually on social media. Reach out to your customers online to increase engagement and show them what you’re doing to support your community, whether that’s donations to local charities or payment relief options for your customers. You might not be directly selling to your audience, but this kind of engagement can build a lasting bond of trust between business and consumer that could be even more valuable in the long term.
Consumers now, especially those in digital space, are savvier than previous generations. They know when they’re being sold to, and they don’t always want to be bombarded with adverts persuading them to part with their cash. Mix up your marketing by tailoring your social media feed to really engage with customers as well as offering your products as solutions.
4. The ability to offer feedback
For businesses, this is one that’s often easy to leave out, but it’s becoming increasingly important to consumers. With the ability to connect with a brand at the start of their journey, customers also want you to listen to them at the end of it.
A Microsoft study found that more than 85% of respondents expected companies to offer some means of giving feedback, while less than half believe companies actually act on the feedback they receive.
To gauge the importance of soliciting and acting on customer reviews, just take a look at some of the businesses that let consumer feedback guide them: Amazon, Uber, Decathlon. These companies dominate their respective industries because they listen.
Make sure to provide multi-channel feedback options to your customers and let them see the response when you do act on it. This could be engaging directly on social media or review sites, or it could be communications drawing attention to service changes you’ve made as a result of feedback.
Customer experiences have always been important, but for businesses that want to thrive as we look to a post-COVID future, the development of a seamless and supportive digital journey is absolutely essential. These are trends that are set to continue on an upward trajectory, so by implementing these steps into your CX interfaces, you can reap the benefits of a stronger connection with your customers in the long term.
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