2020 has been a period of intense transformation in the business world. Covid-19 has accelerated trends that were already emerging, especially regarding the customer experience. We take a look at the 5 most relevant customer experience trends for 2021.
The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has triggered the adoption of cutting-edge trends by companies, especially when it comes to the implementation of business acceleration technologies and tools. The US company Bain & Company publishes an annual report on the year's predominant business trends. This year, the focus is on customer experience and the integration of customer experience tools, which, it seems, will be crucial for business growth in 2021 and 2022.
Here are the 5 most important customer experience trends for 2021.
1. Customer segmentation to improve the customer experience
According to Bain & Company's report, advanced customer segmentation is the preferred strategy to improve their customer experience.
The vast majority of organisations are investing in segmentation technologies aimed at adapting the supply of products and services to customer preferences and personalised attention through differentiated offerings. Specifically, according to Bain & Company's survey of more than 1,200 executives from different sectors, 66% of business leaders have implemented customer experience technologies in 2020.
Today, the focus for businesses is on extending the lifetime of their existing customers through optimised customer experiences to increase retention rates and revenue generation per customer.
2. Customer behavioural analysis tools
The health crisis caused by Covid-19 has rapidly shifted customers' priorities, with health and financial risk reduction, mental health and a sense of belonging to a community now taking precedence over other aspects that prevailed in previous years.
Companies are striving to better understand their customers in order to provide appropriate answers to their needs through the implementation of technologies to detect and analyse their behaviour. Particularly noteworthy are predictive analytics tools, device sensors, online and mobile trackers, chatbots and video bots, virtual reality and automated dashboards.
Likewise, customer segmentation, customer journey, customer lifetime value, customer engagement and customer acquisition models are the preferred strategies among companies to optimise the experience they provide to their clients.
On the other hand, the pandemic has also led to a sales decrease in physical shops and has boosted online shopping, with e-commerce companies being the main benefactors. Retail companies are investing in-store sensors, online tracking and capturing data on customer behaviour in both the physical and digital environments.
Beyond behavioural analysis tools, the pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of other technologies.
One of the most direct consequences of the global healthcare crisis has been the total or partial closure of offices. Because of this, digitalisation and the implementation of workflow automation tools, chatbots and self-service portals have grown enormously in the last year. At the same time, customers' reluctance to chatbots and conversational agents has decreased out of sheer necessity.
3. Global management systems
In addition to investing in new technologies, companies are investing in holistic tools that enable them to optimise the customer experience through the capture and integration of sales data, marketing data, behavioural data and any other data about the customers.
Increasingly, business leaders are investing in comprehensive and integrated customer data management and analytics technologies. Thus, overtaking CRM systems, single customer view systems are positioning themselves as compaines' new choice.
Interoperability, system integration and data integration play a major role in new-age customer strategies. Bain & Company's report notes that tools that can be integrated with other tools through an global management system perform better than fragmented systems. In addition, executives show higher satisfaction with the results of integrable tools —87% satisfaction compared to 73% satisfaction with stand-alone tools—.
In this regard, it is essential for business leaders to understand that, while helpful, tools alone do not improve the customer experience. For that to happen, companies must select the right tools and integrate them into a global management system that works effectively, as well as strive to optimise the processes involved in the usage of those tools. In many cases, when an organisation invests in a tool that does not deliver the expected results, the fault lies not with the tool itself, but with the processes surrounding it.
4. Customer analytics dashboards
Similar to global system management, customer intelligence & analytics dashboards that explore and merge multiple customer-related realities in a single environment are positioning themselves as great allies for business activation.
Over time, the digital ecosystem is becoming the preferred business environment, especially in the wake of the global pandemic. In this new business environment the amount of information and customer data available is greater than ever, so companies are looking to optimise their management and analytics dashboards.
Tendency is now moving towards centralised dashboards that collect all customer-related data, providing a 360° view of the customers. The purpose of centralised dashboards is to provide decision-makers with a single source of information on any aspect concerning customers to stimulate the optimisation of customer strategies.
5. Customer lifetime value (LTV) becomes a KPI
As entrepreneurs realise that customers are the ultimate source of value, business tactics are being redirected towards customer-centric strategies, identifying strategic customers and building meaningful relationships with them.
In this regard, customer lifetime value (LTV) is becoming a priority among performance indicators. While corporations have been considering this metric when analysing their business performance for many years, in the last two years its importance has been increasing and many companies are now turning LTV into a KPI.
What to do?
Dado que el comportamiento de los consumidores es impredecible y cambia rápidamente —las transformaciones surgidas tras la pandemia son la prueba de ello— las organizaciones necesitan adoptar una mirada customer-centric e invertir en nuevas herramientas que les faciliten conocer, analizar e incluso predecir el comportamiento de sus clientes. Asimismo, las tecnologías y sistemas de integración de datos de clientes —como el CRM, el repositorio de datos de cliente único o los dashboards de customer analytics centralizados— ganan relevancia y pueden ser la clave para lograr una visión íntegra del comportamiento y las necesidades de los clientes.
As consumer behaviour is unpredictable and rapidly changing —post-pandemic transformations prove it— organisations need to adopt a customer-centric approach and invest in new tools to help them understand, analyse and even predict customer behaviour. In addition, customer data integration technologies and systems —such as CRM, single customer view systems or centralised customer analytics dashboards— are gaining relevance and can play a major role in getting insights about customers' behaviour and needs.
The tools and technologies discussed in this article focus on building holistic, more nurturing and more personal customer experiences. Investing in the right tools is critical, but technology must be accompanied by key customer strategies, optimal operational functionality and process reorientation to improve the customer experience and achieve better business outcomes.
When implementing a new technology or tool, it is fundamental to consider its ability to integrate with other systems in order to build a comprehensive customer data management and analytics system.