We will likely continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic well into 2021, and in many ways, this pandemic will have a lasting effect on the way business is done. Consumer behaviors rapidly evolved in 2020, shifting how people want and expect to consume and engage with businesses. As a result, the primary areas of customer experience (CX) have been – and will continue to be – impacted by the pandemic.
Employee Experience Impacts CX
Businesses should look to prioritize the development of a strong CX approach in 2021. This will require optimization of experiences through both inbound and outbound interactions. Elevation of the employee experience is a key component of this rounded approach to CX. An exceptional employee experience will lead into an exceptional customer experience; you cannot have one without the other.
With COVID-19 forcing most to work out of their homes, work-life balance has taken a bit of a hit. Unlike ever before, the demands and stressors outside of work bleed into the workday, which can have an impact on an employee’s job performance, especially when they are feeling displeased or stressed by their actual work. Make work easier and more enjoyable for your staff by enabling them with the right tools, processes and leadership. Supporting your staff in this way will help to take the nuisance and stress out of the employee experience, which will lead to increased productivity and positivity, which in turn will lead to more delightful interactions when employees engage with your consumers.
A 360-Degree View of Consumers Reigns Supreme
Understanding consumers and building a competitive CX strategy go hand-in-hand. Businesses that have a full, 360-degree understanding of consumers can make more informed conclusions about current and prospective customers. Organizations that build customer records that are heavily enriched by data from various internal and external sources, can leverage these ‘golden customer records’ to deliver more relevant actions and interactions to every consumer, on their terms, through their preferred channels.
In other words, data is the nucleus of any CX strategy, functioning as the single source of truth for customer desires, needs and expectations. Think of it like electricity, the magic happens when you flick the switch without needing to see the wiring behind the walls. Customer data repositories function in the same way as the wiring – it performs the behind-the-scenes work necessary for the delivery of an electrifying CX experience.
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Consumers Want a Meaningful ‘Omni-Experience’
Consumer buying has been forever changed by COVID-19. The on-demand, contactless experiences consumers received throughout the pandemic has now become the baseline expectation for CX. In other words, the on-demand accessibility of services and information will no longer be a value-add, but a necessity. Consider how you can take to this a step further to create integrated, omni-channel experiences, aka ‘omni-experiences’, that exceed consumer expectations.
Everything needs to be 'omni-experienced' to effect whether and how consumers engage and re-engage. Services and interactions across all channels need to offer consumers accessibility, flexibility, and ease-of-use to be most memorable and meaningful from their perspective. How consumers interact with businesses across all industries was forever impacted by the need for more flexibility and access that came out of the pandemic. As such, steadfast rules of engagement that existed within certain industries – i.e. healthcare – are no longer true, resulting in an amplified need for every business to evaluate where and how they can enhance the omni-experience for consumers.
A Paced Approach to CX Transformation Wins Out
Businesses must be agile to rapidly change processes and drive innovation in meaningful ways. To do so effectively, businesses should work to achieve a paced CX transformation strategy.
Traditionally, businesses have looked to innovate and evolve through developing strategic growth plans around 'home runs' or 'big rocks' for the business to achieve. Though this was how many businesses functioned over the last few decades, these drawn-out, large-cost projects are no longer a viable approach to effectively transforming your business. With the current pace of change among consumers, technologies and markets, there is more payoff in being quick and agile. Businesses should aspire to take immediate steps, however small, to meet the CX needs of your business and consumers right now and build on those incrementally, versus planning for an unknown future. Add on top of that an investment in technology that provides the infrastructure to deliver these customer experiences quickly, easily and on an ongoing basis. Consumer behaviors, technologies and the economy continue to evolve, and so businesses should attempt to adapt and innovate their CX strategies and technologies alongside these changes.
Now more than ever, CX is judged against a customer’s last best experience, not against that of similar industry, but with the experience itself, no matter where it was held. This will change perspectives and experiences forever. Businesses will need to engage with their clients in a smooth, consistent, easy and engaging way, at the time, and via the channel and fashion the customer wants. Though it may seem like a hill to climb, this can be done in incremental steps and with the assistance of technology to make this an easier, more rewarding process for your business and consumers. And Avtex is here to help.
Through consultation, technology and ongoing support, Avtex can help your organization build a CX blueprint that resonates with your business and consumers so you may continue to cultivate brand loyalty and sales. Contact us to learn more.