As the CEO of A Closer Look, I’ve seen many changes in the customer experience over the past year. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital interactions, eCommerce, curbside pickup, and social distancing precautions have been instrumental in providing a positive customer experience. Now, as we embark on a new year and work towards establishing societal and consumer norms, businesses have to work harder than ever before to meet their customers’ unique needs and expectations.
A 2020 study found that 86 percent of buyers are open to spending or investing more money to gain a better customer experience. With this in mind, businesses must stay up-to-date on customer expectations and trends to keep their customers not only happy but coming back. Let’s explore three of the predominant themes to watch for in 2021 as we all continue to navigate current and post-pandemic reality.
1. Frictionless is the way of the future
Frictionless experiences aren’t new, but they’ve become both a necessity and a preference for customers. It’s something that many organizations have been working towards for some time. With the unexpected and massive impact of the pandemic, not only have frictionless experiences been accelerated, but it’s also forced businesses to act quickly to develop and implement them for their survival.
From curbside pick-up and contactless ordering to buy online and pick up in-store options, businesses have fast-tracked these experiences with much success, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Last year 13 percent of consumers started using curbside pickup while 47 percent said they intend to keep using it, even after the pandemic subsides. It’s clear that fast, efficient, and seamless interactions like these are here to stay and will help businesses maintain customer satisfaction in the long run.
2. The return of in-person experiences
Since most of last year, we’ve been limited in our human interactions. Whether it was catching a movie with a friend, going to dinner, or attending a concert, people have missed these outings. When the pandemic comes to an end, or we begin to return to some sense of normalcy, people will be eager, perhaps even zealous, in their pursuit to go out and socialize. This begs the question; is your business ready? Now is the time to start preparing for what the new normal will look like for your business and how quickly you can implement and adapt to those changes.
On the flip side, the pandemic has also taken a toll on customer service. Masks hide smiles and make it harder to hear. Social distancing has not only completely changed the way we interact with one another, but it’s also impacted how businesses operate. Personal and interactive service has taken a step back. Are you prepared for how your business will ensure that service is restored to pre-pandemic levels as indoor traffic begins to pick back up? It’s imperative to consider and plan for what the return to in-person experiences will look like for your business.
3. Customer feedback is no longer nice to have; it’s a must have
Amidst all the technological innovations, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed much – the way that customers provide feedback. Think about it; you go to your favorite restaurant and have a fantastic experience. You want to ensure that both the manager and corporate office hear about their server’s stellar performance. So, what do you do? In many cases, you have two options – post about it on their social media or go to the company’s website, navigate to the “Contact Us” page, and submit a form with your feedback.
While social media is an easy go-to for customers to address positive and negative experiences, it’s not always the best method for the business to respond to that feedback. In this digital age, customers are more inclined to provide feedback on their experience if they can do so quickly and easily while they’re in the business. Establishing a clear-cut and easy way for customers to provide feedback is essential to understanding how your business performs and how it can improve.
Master these customer experience trends while you can
According to The Temkin Group, companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn an additional $700 million within three years of investing in the customer experience. One thing that hasn’t changed; a happy customer is a repeat customer. Prepare your business now by finding an easy way for customers to provide feedback, enabling a frictionless experience, and putting necessary steps into motion to handle the post-pandemic influx of customers.
Ensuring you’ve taken the time to evaluate and plan for the coming year by deeply caring for the customer experience will pay dividends now and over the coming years. Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate the customer experience you’re providing. Our innovative SMS Surveys solution is a convenient and cost effective way to receive customer feedback – this isn’t you texting your customers, it’s your customers texting you.
Understanding your customers’ wants and needs is just a click away. Contact us today to schedule a demo of our SMS solution or to request a complimentary mystery shop.