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5 Industry Trends That Continue to Heighten
The pandemic has undoubtedly forced a shift in consumer behavior. In response, enterprises must engage with customers across multiple online channels, in personalized and proactive ways, and via emerging technology. They must make quick investments in the digital customer experience (CX) capabilities like mobile apps, intelligent digital assistants, and artificial intelligence (AI). They also need personalized, connected consumer experiences that build brand loyalty and have a quantifiable financial outcome.
The following are five trends accelerated since the onset of the pandemic that I predict will continue to heighten throughout 2021:
- Digital transformation toward a unified customer experience will define success in 2021 and beyond. In the ongoing COVID world, customers won’t only want but demand effortless experiences, digital engagement, self-service, conversational interactions, and seamless omnichannel engagement. CX is a core concern to many enterprises across all industries and sectors. Omdia recognizes an emerging pattern of evolution to a genuine customer-centric focus on the customers’ desired outcomes. In Omdia’s ICT Enterprise Insights survey, 65% of respondents said their omnichannel customer engagement efforts were either complete, advanced, or in progress. Enterprises like these that recognize the primacy of the customer will seek platforms that enable them to deliver a coherent and orchestrated experience.
- Contactless, automated, self-service will become prevalent as enterprises balance reducing operating costs with meeting customer expectations. In challenging economic times, digitizing the business and CX can chart a path to recovery and future proof their businesses for any pending economic upheavals. Operational resiliency will be the key for enterprises as they chart their courses in a post-pandemic 2021. However, with rapid technology adoption comes a willingness to automate that’s critical for long-term sustainability. In fact, 64% of respondents to Omdia’s ICT Enterprise Insights survey said they have significant or minor investments planned in intelligent virtual assistants this year. Keeping up with the always-connected customer means responding in real-time and consistently across devices. Omdia sees this evolution as one that moves enterprises from task-based automation to process-based automation and throughout the business and CX ecosystem.
- Personalization and empathy will become the new standards, as digital transformation serves as the gateway for tailored experiences. Personalization gets bolstered by a company-wide commitment to digital transformation and transparency. The future of personalization aligns new technology, innovative strategies, key functional areas, and channels—both online and offline—to provide a connected and individualized CX. Personalization, however, begins with empathy. At the most basic level, companies demonstrate empathy by thoughtfully shaping the CX. That means companies must treat customers as individuals, rather than sources of revenue, along every step of their journey. Achieving such personalization superiority requires companies to understand customers’ behaviors, their intent, and to preemptively and proactively act in their best interests. Each must mitigate issues and deliver personalized offers or messages. This idea will lend itself to opening pathways toward customer empathy. It will also involve understanding how and why customers feel the way they do, listening proactively, having the right attitude, personalizing the service, and communicating effectively.
- The quest to hyper-personalized CX will drive AI adoption. According to our ICT Enterprise Insights survey, 68% of respondents said AI is significantly more important or more important post-COVID-19. This data is key as a customer can engage in hundreds of micro-moments along their journeys. When it comes to optimizing each micro-moment, the turning point occurs when ensuring that the consumer journey tailors to the platform or device they are using. AI contextualizes and dives into the micro-moments, targeting customers’ journey needs and enabling a holistic customer experience throughout the customer journey, from the first touch to the final sale. Marketers and CX managers can then identify trends, patterns, insights, commonalities, and data abnormalities. Gather, sort, and analyze data to ensure that the best content and messages are not only reached, but also positively impact the appropriate audiences along the journey.
- Customer journey orchestration will experience considerable momentum spurred by the goal of connecting physical and digital environments. It’s no longer enough to visualize the journeys; enterprises must respond to key moments in real-time and proactively anticipate customers’ next moves, understand which channels they intend to use; and be ready with relevant content, offers, or remedies. Insights from Omdia’s ICT Enterprise Insights survey reveal enterprise recognition, as 60% said they have significant or minor investment plans for customer journey analytics this year. This intelligent orchestration level requires embedded customer journey maps within machine learning algorithms that identify customer data patterns from different sources. It can also help classify a specific customer behavior to a matching persona in real-time and then layered with AI to enable automation and intelligence throughout an enterprise.
To meet customers’ needs and stay competitive, businesses must continue to invest in the technologies and develop strategies that allow them to interact with their customers in now pervasive digital channels. In achieving this, they need responsive, virtualized customer-facing employees, increased automation, reliance on messaging channels, capabilities to engage in hyper-personalized ways, the ability to innovate quickly, and scalable engagement platforms that enable collaboration across the enterprise. Together, these features and capabilities will allow stakeholders to synthesize data and proactively respond to customers before issues arise or products are purchased.