A heated debate is going on around digitalisation in the last year or so. We’re all speculating about digital trends in 2021 and the future of customer interactions with brands. Will people opt for virtual channels rather than face-to-face communication?

According to new research from Nuance, we might see more digital interactions in the future. The online survey, conducted by OnePoll, with 10,000 interviewees from all across the world, including the UK, US, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, and more. Over half of them said they would rather use online services than visit the store post-pandemic.

The CXM team was intrigued by the findings from this spring’s study and decided to share the results with you. Read on to find out more details and predictions around the future of customer experience.

Consumers have grown more comfortable with using technology

The most intriguing data from Nuance’s study shows that around 55% of UK adults will prefer digital channels post-pandemic rather than in-person contact. Over half of interviewees also said they would rather use apps or a company’s website than go into stores for shopping and banking.

Here are some further findings we think are incredibly important for brands looking to improve their services post-pandemic:

  • When it comes to communicating with brands, over one in four (26%) UK adults said they still preferred in-person visits or phone interactions (13%).
  • Furthermore, 42% choose digital channels including email, live-chat and chat-bots.
  • Convenience (51%) and speed (36%) were the most common drivers for choosing a preferred method of communication, with speaking to a ‘real’ human (26%) trailing.

Consumers are clearly becoming increasingly comfortable with using technology to make purchases and access services. However, the study clearly indicates people still expect brands to deliver a human touch when required.

“From slick and secure authentication processes to intuitive AI-powered intelligent assistants, technology must be able to manage the personalised needs of customers while seamlessly bridging to human intervention when required at the right moment”, said Seb Reeve, Intelligent Engagement Market Development at Nuance.

Almost 50% of respondents would use biometrics for authentication

Adults in the UK are also more trusting in tech that helps them access their personal information and accounts online. According to the study, almost half (45%) are now more comfortable using biometrics to authenticate themselves when accessing their accounts than they were before the pandemic. Furthermore, 38% of them are feeling more comfortable using their smartphone to access accounts.

Nuance reports biometrics as a means of authentication (either voice, facial, fingerprint, behavioural, or combinations of each) can help prevent fraudulent actions that have increased during the pandemic. Thanks to biometrics, PIN’s and passwords are not easily accessible through the dark web. However, it’s interesting that the UK still lags behind the US in terms of trust in biometrics, with nearly half (45%) of adults backing the technology.

Investing in meaningful digital experiences

This growing trust in technology across all age groups is likely a reflection of positive experiences customers have received online. When asked how they would rate the customer services accessed online over the past 12 months, 58% of UK shoppers said good or excellent. That indicates a lot of brands managed to switch to online channels successfully but also highlights they should continue to do that in the future. Considering so many adults will prefer digital channels post-pandemic rather than in-person interactions, brands might need to continue investing in designing unmatched virtual services.

“With the pandemic creating an increasing comfort, trust, and preference among consumers to use technology when engaging with brands, it will be critical that organisations prioritise delivering superior digital experiences if they want to retain customer loyalty and continue to scale”, said Seb Reeve, Intelligent Engagement Market Development at Nuance.

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