What does reducing customer friction look like for my company?

Man studying data charts

4 Ways COVID Is Transforming Customer Experience Expectations for the Better

October 07, 2021

We’ve watched over the last year as the pandemic has disrupted businesses across every industry. Companies are having to rewrite the script on CX in light of a new normal where customer expectations and needs have changed considerably and old ways of working aren’t enough. 

Also, according to extensive research conducted by Hiver, 80% consumers expect better customer service during COVID-19. This, coupled with the higher volume of customer queries, had the potential for a perfect storm for many businesses, creating points of friction that they now need to address. While this has created new challenges for businesses, it’s not necessarily a negative thing.

According to Timothy Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management:  “It’s important to remember that a constantly changing environment means constant opportunities to learn and adapt. Eventually, as the dust of a new, post-COVID reality settles, the organizations that experimented will have many more tools at their disposal.” Additionally, he posits that the constraints force us to be more creative and try new things. This hits on a key characteristic of winning companies: the culture of learning. 

To truly be a learning organization and grow through challenges like the pandemic, companies must take a new approach, especially if they want a significant corner of their market and, most importantly, long term relationships with delighted customers. 

For example, companies that have done a good job at humanizing their brand have an advantage, as they know how to create customer interactions that are more relatable. This gets to the heart of the matter which is providing an incredible customer experience, a critical differentiator that businesses must invest in if they are to retain customers for the long run. (Companies that invest in CX bring in 5.7x more revenue, with 84% of companies reporting a revenue increase from their effort in CX. Source: Forbes).

Promotions and new product offerings are just not enough anymore. In fact, according to research by Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report, 80% of customers now consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services. 

We’ve identified the top four ways in which consumer expectations have changed, particularly as a result of the pandemic. Read on for more insight.

Expectation 1: Empathetic Interactions

Being empathetic as a brand means you are addressing critical customer needs, such as the need for everything to be simpler, better, faster. You actively listen to their concerns and work proactively to ensure the best customer experience you can offer. Customers need answers, and they want them quickly. And if you can’t be quick, set expectations. For example, how long will the wait time be? 

“Consumers really want to know that a company cares,” Calkins says. “Given all the uncertainty in the world right now and all the risk and the hazard and the way people are feeling, there’s nothing more important.”

Questions companies need to address:

  • What is the average customer wait time?
  • How many times does a customer have to follow up to resolve an issue?
  • Is your company humanizing the digital experience across all channels?
  • Are you monitoring cross-channel customer experiences with a powerful customer journey management tool?

Expectation 2: Personalized Experiences

The verdict from customers is in, and the cookie cutter approach to servicing customers just doesn’t work anymore. In the beginning stages of CX, journey mapping and customer experiences were seen as a one-size-fits-all process, which ultimately satisfies only a specific segment of a company’s audience. In today’s world, mediocre CX does nothing more but drive customers to other competitors.

What used to be the secret sauce to revenue growth has now become a norm in many industries such as retail and telecom. Consumers are more willing to trade data for personalized experiences which plays a pivotal role in long-term customer values and relationships with brands.

Technology is making it possible to deliver more value through personalized experiences at scale. By analyzing a specific persona or even a behavior, services and journeys can be tailored to fit each segment’s needs and improve customer satisfaction across the board.

Expectation 3: Connected Journeys

By definition, an omnichannel experience unifies all customer interactions from multiple touchpoints to deliver a consistent brand experience and human interactions. That means creating seamless customer journeys in call centers, digital platforms, phone apps and even offline. This unified synergy is what drives a consistent omnichannel experience. 

From the customer’s perspective, an omnichannel experience means consistency and clarity from their very first interaction with your organization to the last. An HBR study showed that the more channels customers use, the more valuable they become. 

“After controlling for shopping experience, [multi-channel customers]  spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers.” – Harvard Business Review

From a company perspective, omnichannel gives one the ability to get a bird’s eye view on all customer journeys, allowing for a full understanding of all customer experiences and making it possible to take rapid and informed decisions to drive outstanding human experiences.

Companies need an omnichannel view and that is usually only possible with a powerful journey management tool. But considerable technological advancements now allow organizations of all sizes to set out on the path to journey maturity and become customer-centric.

Expectation 4: Hybrid Approach to CX

One of the most impactful changes businesses faced during the pandemic is the scale and speed of digital adoption. Companies that used to rely on their in-person operations were forced to move everything online and think of new ways to operate. 

As industries reopen, consumer habits will remain. A study shows that 74% of customers expect a hybrid customer journey moving forward, one that combines physical and digital experiences. Even if the transaction itself happens online, the majority will still rely on physical locations at some point in their purchase journey.

At BryterCX, we have seen this impact our clients in their respective industries in profound ways. For example, 

  • Banking: helping customers transition from retail stores to self-service in the digital space of online platforms and phone applications.
  • Retail: a boom in online shopping; in-person experiences becoming more solitary, less brand-defining and high-energy so companies need to appeal to customers in new ways.
  • Hospitality: as destinations slowly start to reopen to travelers, they are faced with new priorities in terms of transportation, safety and cleanliness, and implementing the constantly changing local legislations on immunization and quarantine.

Many of the new customer journeys, priorities, and consumer habits will carry on even after the pandemic, and the drastic shift caused by COVID-19 might still be a catalyst for drastic changes that organizations must promptly respond to.

Regardless of what the future holds for us, companies should ask themselves:

  • Are you ensuring that your online experience is as carefully designed as the in-person one?
  • Are you working proactively to implement changes caused by a sudden shift in your industry?
  • Do you have a full understanding of your customer experiences and the different segments of your audience?
  • Are you taking advantage of the best of both digital and in-person worlds?

Ready to take the next step towards CX illumination?

Being customer journey-centric is not exclusive to multi-billion dollar companies that spend tens of millions of dollars in consulting and have analyst teams in the hundreds. Using a progressive approach, enterprises can gain understanding of the end-to-end customer experience to enable rapid and informed decision-making to drive an outstanding customer experience.

IRIS™ is the easy answer for optimizing your customer experience and operating expenses. Through machine learning, this AI breakthrough allows you to discover journey insights and opportunities with ease. IRIS™ uses proprietary journey scores and patented technology, giving you simple visual metrics and alerts to effortlessly measure, monitor and manage the health of your journeys. IRIS™ works efficiently with aggregated data, even from previously siloed sources, giving you a fast, complete, and accurate picture of your customer journeys.

Successful organizations turn disruption into opportunity by capitalizing on the advantages of personalized customer experiences.

Ready to learn more?

Achieve customer experience excellence with the customer journey experts at BryterCX.

Request Demo

© 2021 BryterCX All rights reserved.