How 2021 will shake-up digital CX expectations

15th Feb 2021

2020 placed the Digital Customer Experience (DCX) industry under a fascinating spotlight as businesses were forced to adapt to fundamental change in every sector.  New business propositions, new channels to market and unforeseen changes to customers’ needs, behaviours and attitudes have represented threats and, for some, real opportunities.

Finding ways to better understand your customers, to authentically convey your purpose and to establish affinity is a new imperative to retention and attraction.  Providing services and experiences that work for the customer in a practical sense is vital in these disrupted times. And capitalizing on lockdown successes when some form of new normal emerges will determine long term prospects.

We’ve outlined five trends to look out for in 2021:

  1. Purpose: an increasing consumer priority

Businesses have for some time recognised the need to share their brand purpose. But for many, the mission statement on the website is as far as this has gone. 

In 2020 we saw a real growth of brand values as a core component of consumers’ decision-making process, accelerated by the Covid pandemic. With brand loyalty becoming increasingly central to consumer decisions, every interaction is an opportunity to deepen the relationship and provide both value to the customer and the brand.  As such, conveying and actualizing purpose will become a central component of DCX strategies.  And if businesses get this wrong, evidence suggests they can expect lots of complaints.

  1. Design: convergence and prominence is growing

Where User Experience (UX) was once pigeonholed as a “presentation layer” capability, many more businesses are realising that the potential of good design goes way beyond making their apps and websites attractive and easy to use. 

As human-centred design becomes more established, an increasing number of businesses are starting to use the disciplines of user research, service design and design thinking to challenge entire end-to-end services. As a result, we anticipate a greater role for designers as the new architects of our businesses and that their influence will grow accordingly in 2021.

  1. Sustainability: a key solution requirement 

Businesses are starting to understand that the way they engage customers – online and offline – can impact the environment. Volumes of emails and use of bandwidth can have as profound an effect on their carbon footprint, as flights and delivery trucks.  

The Earth will become a key persona in the design and delivery of CX in the future.  Recognising the planet as a stakeholder has been helpful for us in considering the environmental impact of the solutions we’re designing and implementing and is helping our clients on their journeys to net zero.  CX professionals can be a force for positive change here and those signing the cheques will come to expect it.  And, back to purpose, talking about the progress being made is great for business.

  1. Talent – delivering great CX

Throughout recent years we’ve seen many businesses invest heavily in DCX capability through a variety of models.  Some have insourced but struggled to contain cost and attract talent.  Others have outsourced and struggled with quality and continuity.  A great many businesses have struggled to deploy internal and supplier staff in a truly productive model.  What’s clear is that many are questioning whether their current arrangements are fit for purpose.

Finding the sweet spot is a unique challenge for every organization.  Expect to see more models emerging that allow partners to deliver true value at scale, whilst optimising cost, whilst enabling their clients to grow and mature their internal CX teams. 

  1. New experiences - Stabilise and industrialise 

The pandemic has led to new online, self-service channels being created out of necessity. New e-commerce initiatives to replace closed stores, new online COVID-response services, new chatbot solutions to take the strain from human touchpoints.  Even pre-existing solutions have been unexpectedly stress-tested by demand from customers who can’t leave their homes.

Capgemini’s research showed the number of consumers who said that they had high levels of interaction with online channels had risen from 30% before the crisis, to 37%.  This number is expected to grow and grow.

Businesses are working out which of their online services need to be retained, grown and matured in the post-pandemic world.  Expect to see the replacement of quickly delivered solutions with scalable, high-performing versions that will be fit for the longer term. We can expect investment in technology programs and data mastery to make this happen.

The future of DCX

Whilst 2020 threw all the cards in the air, with many programmes scrapped, paused or re-focused, it was also a year of great demand for DCX professionals. Customer Experience continues to be ever-more recognised as integral to the survival of any business and focus on getting this right is sharpening.

Through modern methods, great talent and cross-disciplinary collaboration, we’ll see new breakthroughs in the way businesses delight their customers whilst protecting the planet.

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