The COVID-19 pandemic had a vast impact on customer service and customer experience in 2020, and this trend is set to continue throughout 2021. Forrester has highlighted their predictions on how CX will be even more affected by the pandemic in the current year.
Reflecting on post-pandemic trends, Forester cites, ‘trust, safety and inclusion’ as having emerged as even more important for businesses today. Brands who work to gain this trust in an increasingly health-conscious business environment will be successful, along with those who apply the key CX competencies. Zero UI will become more widespread but will take time to be adequately developed.
Most companies will or already have implemented Diversity & Inclusion policies for their employees, however, a few select trailblazers will apply these to CX strategies in order to obtain success and customer satisfaction.
Brand characteristics that foster success
Customers seek consistency and security in their buying journeys. Now more than ever, trusted brands that offer meaningful face-to-face experiences will draw consumers.
”As a repercussion of the pandemic, trust is at an all-time low.
A recent Forrester Analytics survey shows that only 6% of US online adults trust travel companies and only 13% trust retailers to follow guidance on proximity and hygiene.
With the increase of the frequency of face-to-face interactions, the brands doing the most to earn trust will be most successful. For example, United Airlines has partnered with Cleveland Clinic and Clorox to ensure the safety of their customers. And restaurants who have already earnt trust through transparency and precautionary measures will also benefit from not having to use reservation systems as strictly. In 2021, many more businesses will implement these successful procedures, however they will be two to five years behind the businesses which made advances in the previous year.
Excelling at conflict moderation and resolution is key in the future of customer service. Only a few companies will train their employees in proper moderation of pandemic-driven conflict, such as dealing with customers who refuse to wear masks. This attention to detail will result in increased customer satisfaction and retention.
The rise of Zero UI
Using haptic feedback, Zero UI interfaces enhance natural language without being as reliant on screens and touch-control surfaces. According to Forrester, ‘In response to the pandemic, people everywhere are avoiding publicly shared UI controls such as ATM screens, in-store feedback buttons, checkout PIN pads, elevator buttons, smartboards, etc.’ Due to this, ‘Brands will embrace Zero UI and deploy many touchless UIs in 2021 that use gesture, voice and proximity.’
Zero UI is increasingly common in restaurants with the use of QR codes for their menus. However, people with accessibility issues will be sidelined by this technology, and end-to-end Zero UI will be more difficult than previously anticipated. Forrester uses the US based store, Target, as an example, as it ‘was quick to go touchless in response to the pandemic, with in-store pickup and app-only curbside pickup, but for customers to make purchases, Target still requires that they touch its POS terminals.’ Although not a seamless transition, Zero UI is providing measures that offer customers peace of mind.
The need for comprehensive diversity and inclusion policies
This past year has brought more awareness around social injustice and inequality, and as a result, diversity and inclusion (D&I) has captured widespread attention. As highlighted in a recent publication by CMO,
”‘Brands that are socially aware and demonstrate inclusion and diversity with their actions, in addition to their digital campaigns, will win in 2021.’
Most firms will restrict their D&I policies to employees and the workplace, thus missing the opportunity to also make their CX inclusive.
Some companies, however, will take the opportunity to stay at the forefront of change in 2021. Forester suggests that these companies will, ‘…do right while also doing well as a result – accessing new markets, avoiding legal troubles, improving experiences through the “curb cut” effect, attracting and retaining talent, and avoiding the costs of remediating lack of inclusiveness in the experiences they design and deliver.’
Implementation starts from within
According to Forrester’s predictions,
”2021 could be a hugely successful year for businesses that implement the key CX competencies and flow with these trends efficiently and effectively.
The challenges faced in the pandemic will no doubt continue deep into 2021, but businesses that gain the trust of their customers, thoroughly train employees, display dedication to health and safety measures and commit to inclusivity across their CX strategies are sure to thrive.
So in order to make a positive change for their customers, companies need to make the necessary changes from within. There is no reason why businesses can’t make 2021 an excellent year for customer experience, both in person and online.
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