Without a doubt, 2020 has been the most tumultuous year in recent history. The global pandemic accelerated many trends that experts assumed would take 1-5 years to take hold. We are now seeing drastic changes in everyday experiences, from the way we work, to the way we communicate, and how we buy.
As we head into 2021 we reflect on the twists and turns experienced this past year, and focus ahead on a brighter 2021. We have rounded up the top five lessons that resonated with us and our readers this year so we can all bolster customer experiences for the year to come!
- Humanize your digital experiences;
- Deliver what your customers value most;
- Use automation to make your life easier;
- Empower employees to take action;
- Engage with your community.
Read on to find out how you can incorporate some of these ideas into your programs in the coming year!
Humanize your digital experiences
A growing number of consumers today know that when they are engaging with businesses online, many of these interactions are driven by AI or other automation tools. Although great for business efficiency and triggering activities for your teams, solely leaving it up to the bots to engage with customers can leave a lack-luster impression. What’s critical here is to strike the right balance between leveraging automation and adding a personal touch. Let the AI and rule-based workflows handle the basics, but trigger human intervention when there’s deeper complexity.
When planning the content you need to support your digital experiences, add value to these touch points by leveraging data you already have such as name, location or recent purchases to increase the personalization in your messaging. Make it easily consumable by keeping the message concise and formatted for the specific medium. Enrich each and every interaction to make them feel more human by capturing and highlighting your brand personality.
Deliver what your customers value most
In the CX world, you often see messages about the importance of delivering perfect, frictionless experiences for your customers. And yes, while that is the ideal state, for many businesses that is an unrealistic expectation, especially today. Whether it’s due to cost cutting measures, staff shortages, or other internal or external forces - sometimes you just can’t be perfect.
What’s most critical as we turn the corner into 2021, is to hone in on what matters most to your customers. Things have certainly changed, so it’s more important than ever to understand what your customers value most and what keeps them coming back. You likely have an idea but, fair warning, consumer habits and priorities have changed significantly even within just the past six months. But if you're listening and putting your customers at the heart of all your decisions, you'll get closer to perfect faster than you think.
Start with a survey program to understand why a customer chooses to bring their business to you. This survey should be based on what you currently understand about your customers but will equip you with hard data to understand how things are changing and how you can better serve customers in 2021. Layer on social listening to gather unsolicited feedback, and then analyze that data together to get the full picture of what your customers want. Turn that data into actionable insights to drive high value actions across your organization, and tada, you’ve just launched a closed loop CX program!
Use automation to make your life easier
By definition, technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, with the objective of making your life better or easier. There are almost limitless options available to you when looking for tools to automate your business processes. Regardless of what tools you choose (and we hope you consider the Intouch's CX Platform Automation Hub when looking for CX Automation ;) ) focus on automating the business problems you are trying to solve.
Automation can also be leveraged to be proactive and avoid issues down the road. For example, a health and safety checklist could include checking the expiration date on the fire extinguishers. You can set your form so that if a fire extinguisher's expiration date is nearing, a follow-up will be automatically created and assigned to the relevant supervisor to replace it.
Pro tip! Build an automated trigger to assign a task to respond to positive online reviews about your business. Not only does this further reinforce the positive experience in your customer’s eyes, but if you round robin these tasks between employees who often deal with customer complaints you can expect a boost positive energy - a little positivity can go a long way for team morale!
Empower employees to take action
One of the keys to effective leadership is clearly outlining expectations. If an individual knows what is expected of them, they will be more likely to deliver on those expectations.
Empower your employees to relate the tasks in their everyday work-life to overall company objectives. When an individual employee can see how their day-to-day activities contribute to the overall goal, they are more likely to deliver. For example, as a business leader, you may know that if you can increase overall customer satisfaction by 5%, this will translate into an 8% increase in annual revenue. But what does that mean for the floor employee who is stocking shelves?
Looking at this example, this business leader has been measuring customer satisfaction through surveys. The customers have let the business know through their feedback that when three specific products are in stock, are easily found, and a staff member was available to help, they were more satisfied with their experience. This data, when correlated with point-of-sale (POS) information, indicates that there is a direct relationship between the key drivers behind customer satisfaction and increased annual revenue.
Not only is the business leader running their operations more efficiently, by understanding the key drivers behind customer satisfaction, they can better share with their employees how their efforts have a real-world impact on the customers they serve, and why what they do day in and day out matters.
Engage with your community
Over the course of 2020, we have seen our world get a little smaller. With shelter-in-place orders or lock-down measures in place, businesses have had to pivot to continue engaging with their customers in new ways. Whether you are a multi-location franchise business, offer property management services, or operate the corner store, new challenges have arisen - but so have opportunities.
By engaging with your community, you can make a difference in your own backyard, build new connections and find new ways of staying top of mind with customers. Whether it’s partnering up with a local charity, supporting local first responders, or contributing to local relief efforts, giving back and getting involved locally can lay the foundation for a stellar 2021 and beyond!
At Intouch we’ve seen some outstanding contributions on the parts of our clients in their local areas. From partnering up with a local charity to make sure no kid goes hungry, like Papa Murphy’s did, or like a Burger King franchisee who donated meals to their local hospital, there are lots of opportunities to get involved. If you have the means, a little charity can go a long way in the hearts and minds of your community.
For more ideas on how to engage locally with your community, check out our recent posts, Experiences That Matter and Experience That Matter Volume II.
As we close out this year, we hope that some of these ideas spark some inspiration for your business. From the entire team at Intouch Insight, we want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and we look forward to a brighter 2021!