So, it’s March – how are those 2021 CX resolutions going?

Last year changed everything, and we all benefited from a new year to start afresh. But while we might want to scratch the last year from our thoughts entirely, there are some important learnings we must glean first. What do we want to take with us into the coming year?

For individuals, New Year’s resolutions can be daunting and that’s sometimes why they get broken in the first weeks of the year. So instead of trying to make drastic changes, it’s best to look retrospectively to realise what has worked for you in the past, what makes you successful and ultimately what makes your life better.

The same goes for businesses.

What 2020 taught us about consumer needs

The pandemic accelerated the shift to online; face-to-face interactions turned into face-to-screen interactions and brands needed to find a way to recreate the human touch, in order to appeal to the emotions and needs of consumers.

To elevate brand position companies had to differentiate themselves, by not only targeting the right consumers with the right messages but showing themselves to be genuine and ethical to reassure consumers in these uncertain times.

The combination of the pandemic and social unrest led brands to go beyond driving innovative or popular products and start to turn the focus to impact and responsibility. Both customers and employees want more transparency, more significant commitments, and a better understanding of what the brand believes in.

More reliability was needed from the brand’s side to gain that trust from the customer and build loyalty and affinity. Customers have an overwhelming amount of choice and can rightfully be fickle when it comes to choosing where they purchase goods and services. If they feel like their experience isn’t meaningful, relevant and tailored to their needs, they won’t come back.

How to turn those learnings into actionable resolutions

1. Listen to customers and act with empathy

Customer loyalty comes as a result of multiple positive interactions that build up a feeling of trust over time, and the best way to achieve that is with empathy.

They may love your products or services, but if your customers don’t feel valued, respected and understood, they’re unlikely to form a positive emotional connection to your brand. As well as friendly and pleasant service when they make a purchase, a key factor in good service is how you receive feedback and what you do with it to improve. You should also consider what your customer’s circumstances are like and how they have been affected by the pandemic.

Customers who feel listened to and looked after during these difficult times are likely to have positive emotion towards you in the future.

2. Be accountable

Important social, political, and environmental issues cannot be overcome if businesses don’t play their part. It’s not good enough to make pledges and proclamations to put on a show and create media buzz around your company, and eagle-eyed customers will see right through it if you aren’t genuine.

Customers won’t trust brands until they show real action, stick to their promises, and show accountability for their impact on the world. This takes into account everything from climate change to social unrest, diversity, and employee wellbeing.

Holding yourself accountable for issues that people care about will show that you are more than just your product pages and will help you build trusting relationships with customers this year.

3. Replicate the in-store experience

Faster, smarter and easier customer experiences at every touchpoint should be a resolution priority too.

Companies are already using AI technology to bring this to fruition. Customer service chatbots are common, but there is already an expectation of what makes a good chatbot. Cold, automated messages feel transactional, and make the customer feel like they are a number in a queue. The most successful chatbots are responsive and have likeable qualities and a ‘personality’ that can help build a human-to-human relationship with customers.

This year we will need to continue working on our understanding of this delicate balance between technology and human nature and how they interact with one another if we want to replicate experiences from the real world.

You might notice that all these resolutions have one crucial thing in common. They require the realisation that even the best products with amazing features have less influence on customer behaviour than what customers experience unconsciously and emotionally and from their overall interaction with the brand. Keep this in mind as you gather feedback and work to improve your customer experiences in 2021.

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