By Gibu Mathew, VP and GM APAC, Zoho Corp.
Two years into the pandemic, organizations and employees have permanently adopted practices that will forever change the workplace as we know it. Meanwhile, brands have refined their services to ensure improved customer experiences. Customer Experience (CX) is continuously changing.
We have ushered in a new era of customer experience (CX). Customer service has expanded across different channels and has developed new practices to reach a wider audience. Many companies have strengthened their CX efforts to differentiate their brand from competitors who offer similar products and services and share the same audience.
Business leaders are beginning to determine which habits adopted during the pandemic will wither and which habits will stay. So, here are our predicted CX trends that will shape the interactions between businesses and their customers:
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- CEOs will take the lead on digital transformation (DX)
While digital transformation has been underway for several years, the past two years have seen it faster than ever. Now more than ever, the urgency to prioritize DX was pushed to an existential challenge. It doesn’t apply to just the IT infrastructure to optimize internal operations anymore but has extended across the entire business ecosystem, primarily driven by how customers now consume content and make purchases. This has resulted in a fundamental transformation for many organizations as a whole, especially as customers now prefer to interact with brands through digital channels.
According to a Consumer Insights report by PwC, among the top preferred channels of Singaporeans to purchase products are online via smartphones, online via Smart home voice assistants, and online via tablets. As such, it is expected that, from a CIO’s responsibility, DX will likely transition to a CEO’s, having a strong focus on improving customer experiences. As customer consumption behavior is rapidly evolving, it is now up to the CEOs to articulate a technology-led and outcome-driven business strategy, rather than seeking how to support existing strategy with technology.
- BizOps will be elevated to a strategic level
Digitalization and elevating business strategy go hand-in-hand. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of BizOps, the strategic direction to unify the information flow from different business functions like sales, marketing, and customer service, so that decision-making is not done in silos, among businesses. It will soon be more common to utilize BizOps at a strategic level to optimize internal operations. As technology becomes a primary driver of growth, rather than being an afterthought, the importance of BizOps teams shall only increase further.
While companies have already adopted the BizOps model, they will soon leverage it to gain a better competitive advantage to improve customer services and create better customer experiences. Given the pace at which brands operate today, BizOps teams will complement business teams and IT teams to manage internal changes more smoothly and include customers in these positive changes.
- Self-serve and conversational experiences will be brands’ priority
Brands have already begun implementing self-serve digital experiences, which are already preferred by customers for simple and transactional needs. From commerce and account management to compliance and personalization, customers now opt to have as much within their direct control as possible. All these will be simplified by conversational interfaces, which emulate a conversation with a real person to give a more convenient and more human interaction.
The era of Zero UI has begun. Invisible user interfaces that are triggered by natural gestures like movements, voices, and gestures are already implemented, and they will soon receive an increased demand from more organizations. On the consumer front, the increased adoption of Zero UI in smart home setups is a sure indication of what will become the expectation for more consumer products in a few years.
- Trust-by-design will be an expectation from customers and an ultimate goal for brands
According to Forrester, 59% of marketers in Asia-Pacific only fulfill minimum requirements in complying with data privacy regulations and only 30% have developed a dedicated strategy to communicate with their consumers about their data privacy. These numbers are likely to grow and consumers will begin to switch to brands that offer better privacy and take consumer data security more seriously. They are also likely to pay a premium for such offerings. This has already started for many consumers and will only get stronger as a trend.
- Unified technology platforms will be the de-facto choice
As organizations accelerate digital transformation, they are adopting unified technology platforms to ensure a seamless shift. Over a landscape of integrated best-of-breed applications, unified platforms will become the norm as they serve as a one-stop-shop that allows businesses to perform several functions, like cross-referencing customer context, automation, gathering and analyzing customer data, within a single platform.
In the long term, a seamless unified platform mitigates the potential technology and financial risk of patch-work implementation of applications from different solution providers.
Overall, we are seeing brands raise their CX efforts several notches higher. Since customer expectations and behavior have changed, we, brands, now have an increased focus on refining customer digital experiences and making them as faultless as possible. At this stage, while we’re still adapting and coping with the rapid changes, we predict that the coming months will be significant for continuing, simplifying, and permanently incorporating the best CX practices adopted during its transformation journey amid the pandemic. These practices are paving the way for what CX will look like a few years down the line.