Earlier this week, we looked at customer experience (CX) trends for 2021. Driving those trends is an ever-evolving challenge. As we look towards the next 12 months, what investments will deliver the greatest return in terms of operational efficiency and revenue?
Here are the 6 technologies we predict will gain the most momentum – and drive the most value for businesses and customers.
1. Self-service solutions will be essential and expected
In 2020, the phrase “Due to coronavirus…” became a catch-all excuse for suboptimal customer experiences. There’s no question that the pandemic put businesses under immense operational and financial pressure and customer goodwill evaporated amid lengthy resolution times.
Self-service is part of the solution to this problem, which is why we’ll see adoption accelerate in 2021. Whether customers are buying online, checking order status, managing their account, requesting a refund, getting basic technical support or dealing with fraud alerts, self-service helps them achieve their goals quickly via their chosen channel.
The convenience factor drives higher satisfaction for customers. And by diverting simpler queries away from contact centres, you alleviate pressure on staff, who can focus on resolving more complex issues. This then drives operational efficiency gains, which has cost benefits.
Cross-channel integration will be a critical success factor for self-service. Businesses that thrive will offer a seamless and connected experience, whether the customer engages via the website, IVR, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
2. Chatbots will be on the CX frontline
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), chatbots enable effective self-service at scale. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 47% of organisations were planning to implement them even before the pandemic.
When set up with CX at the heart, chatbots can help customers self-serve even for complex problems, serving as ambassadors for your brand, speaking in your tone of voice and responding to customer intent.
In 2021, a key change we’ll see is a cross-channel approach to chatbots. Instead of deploying them in siloes, businesses will implement them across voice, digital and mobile and link them into your existing back end systems and data sources. This will empower chatbots to offer greater value to customers because they’ll be able to offer more personalisation, resolve more issues and build trust as people move between channels.
3. Customer journey tracking will deliver essential real-time insight
Businesses are fundamentally changing the way they measure CX with a move away from vanity metrics. In our recent whitepaper, we looked at how to deliver those compelling, intelligent customer journeys – and how to optimise them to deliver better business outcomes. This is something that will continue to shape CX in 2021.
A customer journey is a sequence in which someone interacts with your business to achieve a goal, covering all channels and touchpoints. An individual will have many journeys with you as they progress from marketing and sales to support and (ideally) back through the lifecycle with repeat purchases or engagement. The more personalised and frictionless each journey is, the better the experience – and the greater the revenue generation opportunities.
To deliver that personalisation and seamlessness, you need accurate insight. In 2021, tools like Customer Journey Tracker will be instrumental in delivering this. Customer Journey Tracker gives you a visual map of your customers’ interactions in real-time. You can therefore analyse which touchpoints and channels are working most effectively – and where there are bottlenecks.
This empowers you to make evidence-based decisions, so you can maximise return on CX investment – in terms of both revenue generation and customer satisfaction.
4. Greater security controls will be built into everyday interactions
GDPR heralded a new data security-conscious era, but 2 years on, there’s still a long way to go. As high-profile data breaches and questionable data ethics filled 2020 headlines, organisations will be working to tighten protocols and give customers more control over their data.
To that end, multi-factor authentication will be high on the agenda in 2021. We’ll see more collaboration between banks and mobile network operators to pre-empt issues and ensure secure messaging. And we’ll see greater adoption of technology like biometric voice authentication, coupled with other identification and verification methods, driven by regulatory requirements such as PSD2.
5. Automation will become more embedded…
There are 2 major factors prompting businesses to build automation into customer processes.
First, consumer demand for accurate, personalised information is at an all-time high, making cross-channel integration more important than ever. Second, that demand needs to be met without sacrificing operational efficiency – even though remote working has introduced new layers of complication. automation helps address both these factors, cost-effectively and at scale.
In 2021, we’ll see automation in many forms depending on organisational maturity. This includes automating certain communications, for example triggering SMS, WhatsApp or email messages at specific customer journey stages. It also includes introducing automated customer service capabilities, from NextGen IVR to the AI-driven chatbots discussed above.
These capabilities help pre-empt inbound queries and drive conversions by allowing you to communicate proactively, efficiently, personally and based on real-time behaviour.
6. …And Next Best Action will become more prolific
Next Best Action is the next step in automation, and we’ll see adoption increase among more digitally mature businesses. It’s an AI module that analyses data points across the customer journey within the context of your business objectives. Using ML and predictive analytics, it determines the recommended next step in a journey accounting for all touchpoints and experiences – from customer service and engagement to operations, sales and marketing.
Next Best Action lets you hyper-target campaigns to drive higher conversion rates and reduce churn. You can achieve measurable CX improvements because you’re giving customers streamlined journeys and relevant information based on preferences and behaviour. And because it’s automated in a way that’s structured and self-learning, you get operational efficiency gains at the same time.
You can therefore meet ever-evolving demands for personalisation and tailored experiences your customers expect – efficiently and cost-effectively. You’re always offering them the next best experience, which helps you build relationships and differentiate from competitors.
How will you keep up with ever-growing customer demands in 2020?
Customers have proven time and time again that they want the power to shape their relationship with brands.
And this means companies must evolve, deploying technologies that facilitate that relationship-building and control. The right tools will help drive revenue and operational efficiency – and foster a CX-focused culture that boosts your reputation and customers’ loyalty.
Now it’s over to you. What changes are you anticipating in 2021?
For more on how Engage Hub can help you achieve your 2021 CX goals, get in touch today.