There was a time when businesses had limited interactions with their customers. The most likely process was that someone hears about a particular company from a friend, stops by a brick-and-mortar shop, purchases something, and moves on with their life.
Today, as technology booms rapidly, customers have to decide which businesses to frequent in-person and online due to being increasingly hassled with data. And one of their main bases for choosing a business is customer experience.
Customer experience, or CX for short, is the sum of a customer's interactions with a firm throughout their journey. This can range from when a customer learns about a brand to years after they purchase a good or service. To produce an outstanding experience, organizations must consider the customer's perspective at every stage.
Throughout history, brands' business practices have evolved. Thanks to new technology and internet development in recent years, change is occurring at an unprecedented velocity. The customer experience and how companies handle it have changed substantially in the last decade.
The five ways that customer experience has changed over time are listed below.
1. Combining Humans and Technology
In the past ten years, one of the most significant changes brought to the customer experience is the combination of human engagement and technology.
Automation was a cutting-edge trend ten years ago. And yes, automation has become an essential factor in customer experience. But when artificial intelligence began being used as a communication platform, customers were left craving human interaction. Despite their instant responses, generic replies were not always helpful or welcoming, especially when complex issues were present.
Automation is used to meet customers' needs who demand quick solutions to simple questions. But providing personal support is crucial if you want clients to believe in your business. After all, according to 54% of users, the most annoying aspect of chatbots is the number of questions they have to respond to before speaking with a human agent.
To deliver the best customer service and experience possible, organizations must strike a balance between automation and human engagement both now and in the future.
2. Understanding Customer Perspectives
When a company introduces new software or switches from providing call support to online chats, it may be doing so to save money or boost worker productivity. And each of those elements is crucial when making choices. But when making choices, you cannot disregard the customer's viewpoint.
For example, a hobby store that sells board games discovers that chat is crucial to reach modern consumers. The owners then cut their customer service phone line to make room for an automated chatbot. However, most of the business' customers consist of older folks who prefer ordering over the phone or speaking to a live person instead of navigating a chatbot and its automatic responses.
With a case like this, adding a live chat or a chatbot to an already-existing phone line is a better alternative. This decision shows that the business wants to consider the customers' needs before making significant strategy shifts that can impact customer satisfaction.
Businesses must consider their customer base when deciding how to develop or improve because not every trend will work for every industry.
3. Involving the Entire Company in Customer Experience
It has been increasingly evident in recent years that a company's ability to influence the customer's experience is not limited to any department. The customer experience must be prioritized by all employees, not only salespeople and customer service representatives.
In 2021, Emplifi discovered that when considering a new purchase, 43% of consumers give high priority to businesses with previous positive customer experiences. Therefore, every level of a firm should consider preserving and developing a good customer experience.
Executives should, for instance, think about how innovations and improvements will affect the customer experience. Additionally, when making updates to customer-facing apps or websites, technicians should consider the end-user experience.
4. Juggling Multiple Forms of Communication
Before the introduction of email and instant messaging, businesses only had to worry about in-person communication with clients during standard business hours. With the advent of the phone and then email, companies could reach clients who lived farther away. However, it also meant they had to offer help across different time zones.
Chatbots and website forms became the standard in the 2010s, offering automated support and instant connection to clients who want to get in touch. To communicate with clients, organizations are now expected to provide a variety of channels, including apps, live chats, video conversations, social media messages, and traditional phone and email.
Customers expect to be able to contact brands and get responses immediately because customer service is a crucial part of the customer experience. Businesses must continue providing various communication channels to reach customers where they are in the present.
5. Defining Company Values
Most customers are not prepared to blindly support whichever business has the best bargain or the funniest marketing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic and international events.
Today's consumers want businesses to be socially conscious and share or reflect the same morals they do. According to Zendesk, 63% of customers will willingly purchase products from companies that display social responsibility.
When a business wants to provide customers with a positive experience, it needs to clarify its mission and goals while ensuring that they are dynamic and give back to society. Mission and goals can include establishing sustainability initiatives, donating to charities, or supporting artisans over machine-made goods.
Customers want to interact with companies that care about more than just their bottom line. While the specifics will vary depending on the business and target market, the message is unmistakable.
Customer Experience and the Future
The changes from the last ten years might continue for a while, but moving forward, anticipate that customer experience will evolve in step with the times.
While brick-and-mortar shops are still excellent and relevant, e-commerce is continually booming. And online, there are more ways to sell products than just a website. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are increasingly gaining popularity as platforms where customers can purchase products.
Another trend that is gaining traction is the focus on sustainability. Customers want to support companies trying to protect the environment and reduce carbon footprints. To win the trust of the public, this also entails complete transparency.
It's crucial for companies that offer goods to also think about how to engage customers through services. This could entail giving real-time product demonstrations or holding gatherings that customers can join.
The pandemic has demonstrated that companies that can quickly adapt to changes under their control and those beyond it are more resilient. You're positioning yourself for future success as long as you remain aware of what your clients want (and need).