9 Must-Know Customer Experience Trends and Tactics for 2021

In two previous posts we discussed marketing tactics that support an improved customer experience (CX) model: omnichannel marketing and multichannel marketing. While the two approaches are often mistaken for one another, there is one vital difference that sets them apart: customer philosophy in regards to the customer experience and buyer journey.


Customer experience impacts all areas of your business, and failing to optimise for CX can have a negative impact. According to recent research, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for better brand experiences. Furthermore, the loyalty generated through customer-centric approaches will bring huge long term advantages to your business. 


Nurturing your clients, addressing their pain points and being part of the solution makes customers happy, satisfied, and ultimately, loyal. Loyal customers will advocate for your brand and keep your company moving forward in terms of minimising churn and increasing lifetime value. 


2021’s most vital CX trends address the need for an omnichannel approach, incorporating the latest technologies in user search and message delivery, integrating automation and AI with custom features, and leveraging customer insights.


Here we take a look at 9 imperative customer experience trends and tactics for 2021:


  • Omnichannel Customer Experience 
  • Video Email Marketing
  • Voice Search
  • Chat Bots 
  • Dispersion & The Gig Economy
  • Virtual Consultations
  • AI Email Marketing
  • Personalisation for Improved Customer Experience
  • Customer Experience Analytics


First, let’s have a look at what customer experience really entails.


What is Customer Experience

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience (CX) is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company throughout the buyer lifecycle and customer journey, from the initial contact to becoming a loyal, returning customer. CX is centred around the customer’s own holistic impressions of your brand and business, including every touchpoint they experience on their  journey.


The customer experience is synonymous with the customers’ view of your brand, and how they experience the brand impacts your bottom line - including revenue. Studies have shown that properly addressing customers’ needs and being mindful of the customer experience can lead to a 70% increase in revenue within 3 years. Why is that? Well, since the customer feels valued and respected, they are more likely to do one of two things (or both): keep coming back as loyal customers and become a devoted advocate of your brand.


CX represents the customer’s impressions not only from physical meetings or customer support on a device, but everything you put out into the world linked to your brand or logo, i.e. website, blogs, statements, social media, physical stores, interactions with your team, articles and so on.


Why is Customer Experience important

Why is Customer Experience Important?

A maximised and optimal customer experience is crucial for sustaining growth and profit within any company. While there is a great benefit in winning new business and reaching new customers, customer experience focuses on the real moneymaker: retaining your customers and moving them towards higher levels of customer satisfaction. A positive customer experience promotes reciprocal loyalty between you and the customer. Not only will that encourage brand advocacy and boost your brand reputation, but it will also help you win new business and turn more customers into returners.


With 75% of CX management executives rating CX as being of the highest importance to their organisation, the customer-centric approach definitely holds weight. And with our experience at SnellMedia, we can only agree.


Customer Experience VS Customer Service

Customer Experience VS Customer Service

If we got a dollar every time we see these two customer philosophies being used synonymously, boy, would we be living on a yacht off the coast of some gorgeous city in Italy. Perhaps somewhat exaggerated, but the truth is, customer experience and customer service are two very different philosophies entailing two very different levels of customer centricity. Let’s dive into how they differ:


  • Customer service represents just one of the touchpoints a customer has with a brand. Customer experience represents all of them. 


If a customer reaches out to your company wanting to learn more about pricing options for your product line and your customer service representative provides a satisfactory, comprehensive answer, they just provided the customer with good customer service. The touchpoint was successful, and the customer is happy. If the customer makes a smooth purchase, the products arrive early with a thank you note and simple, clear manuals, that is a great customer experience for the buyer.


  • Customer service is reactive, and customer experience is proactive. This may seem simple, but this very much underlines the different philosophies. While customer service aids and solves a specific issue, customer experience moves beyond that and uses customer data to build a loyal relationship. As Patrick Bet-David perfectly summarises, customer service is casual dating and CX is a devoted marriage.


The service-minded business focuses on handling issues politely and making the experience within that single service-opportunity as positive as possible. Phrases like how may I be of service? Is there anything else I can help you with today? Have a great day, and thank you are crucial points of customer service.


The experience-minded business focuses on tying all support-opportunities into one holistic experience. They look beyond incidents and consider their helpfulness, conversation, and relationship with the customer throughout the entire customer lifecycle. They make use of each detail and data they acquire from the customer and leverage it to optimise reciprocal loyalty and a long term relationship. Customer experience focuses on VIP-sensations, rewarding loyalty, and making conversation.


  • Customer service focuses on problem-solving for each touchpoint where the customer needs support. Customer experience ties that into a larger context of how the customer is feeling, thinking, and what they are expecting and desiring. This loops back to the sensation of VIP. Customers feel attached and loyal to brands that prioritise the personal connection and make them feel special.


Customer service conversations are aimed at fulfilling a request. Customer experience conversations are aimed at making personal connections and displaying an eagerness for customer-centric development where the voice of the customer is valued above all.


Now that we’ve drilled down into the fundamental differences between the two customer philosophies, you should also remember that customer experience is the evolution of customer service. CX-driven businesses do everything that defines both customer service and customer experience. Strictly speaking, customer service is one piece of the puzzle that makes up customer experience.


Read on to learn about 9 essential customer experience trends for 2021, and what tactics must be applied in order to satisfy the development of CX in the complex B2B environment, during and post-pandemic.


Top CX (Customer Experience) Trends and Tactics for 2021

9 Digital Customer Experience Tactics You Can Easily Start Today


1. Omnichannel Customer Experience

The most comprehensive way of bringing in customer experience where it matters most is through an omnichannel approach. This places customer experience at the forefront and addresses the need for a seamless, coherent experience that moves buyers towards the sale no matter where they are in the process. This cross-channel marketing discipline features the integration of channels, not only for marketing but also for easing the sales process for buyers and businesses alike.


This ‘movement forward’ experience drives better B2B relationships and appeals to the vast majority of buyers today, with 75% of them demanding seamless experiences. Additionally, customers who experience your seamless integration of marketing and sales will respond positively, become loyal to your company, and establish effective advocacy for your brand and reputation. With a reputation of being attentive and innovative towards customer needs, your company will start seeing an increase in transactions.


Not only that, a strong omnichannel strategy helps businesses reduce the churn of customers, and apply a systematic mindset that retains customers for longer with high potential of producing lifelong customer relationships. While many businesses are having trouble closing sales, an omnichannel-navigated customer experience strategy increases your closing ratio and leads to more sales over the long term.


Omnichannel is all about creating that seamless, cohesive experience where the customer can move between your different marketing channels (online and offline) without having to re-engage or start over in their buyer journey. While it can seem overwhelming having to transform your marketing and sales strategies and have your teams work closely together in communicating with customers, in reality this approach does not entail a ‘go big or go home’ mindset.


The easiest way to start is by connecting two channels. Also, review the marketing approaches you’re taking now, and make sure to harmonise them in terms of design and message. Doing that, you are already well on your way. For example, at SnellMedia, we started by integrating our website chat feature with our Facebook Messenger, that way the service history is right at our fingertips.


The idea of omnichannel, just like customer experience, is to capture what really matters to customers and leverage that to improve the customer journey and their view of your brand. 


Video Email Marketing and CX Trends

2. Video Email Marketing

Today, 91% of customers prefer to engage with visual content over conventional, static methods. As a business you should be mindful of what matters most to customers in terms of getting your message across in a way that makes them feel connected  and inspired to make a purchase. 

 

The popularity of video email is not only about the fact that we are presenting marketing messages via engaging visuals, it also has to do with customers feeling more personally connected to the message. This is because the video email marketing trend heavily features personalisation and tailored experiences per buyer or customer segment, where the individual customer feels personally addressed.


People feel more connected to a video featuring a business addressing them about recommendations or new products, than a block of text explaining the same thing. It is so important to bring in customer characteristics like name/business name, industry specifics and brand traits that inform the receiver that the email is not just another spam or advertisement opportunity that doesn’t relate to their own brand.


Video is a much more versatile, personable method for the otherwise bland practice of email marketing. It’s a way for businesses to delight and add personality when engaging with prospective buyers. Not only does this open a window of opportunity for your company to be creative with the content, but it is also an intriguing way of engaging prospects for events and product launches. It’s also a great way to  and even your company culture.


There are many ways to incorporate video to enhance the customer experience of your marketing, so make sure you plan out how you want to manifest the video-priority mentality, what that means to your company context, and how you want to deliver your messages via vibrant email video. Some examples we’ve used with with our clients include:

  • Professional-level animation format
  • A presentation of the message by an employee 
  • Light-hearted comic content
  • Sneak peaks and live product launches
  • Professional FAQs and product presentations
  • One-to-one targeted videos 
  • Bulk personalised videos
  • Semi-personalised videos

Voice Search A Meaningful Customer Experience Trend

3. Voice Search

This phenomenal advancement in technology has done wonders for the instant accessibility of answers as they are needed. Customers can easily leverage different voice search platforms and applications to make queries on the go or while their lives are otherwise busy with daily routines and tasks. In a recent blog post, we covered the vibrant trends of voice search marketing (see trend no. 13). 


Growing in popularity, this method is becoming a new normal for customers, and incorporating this into your customer experience tactics can only be a positive move. When streamlining your marketing strategies for optimised customer experience, facilitating opportunities for easy and convenient customer engagement will allow for the customer to reach your brand wherever they are, which undoubtedly supports a positive, even excellent experience.


Optimising your customer experience for voice search availability will help:

  • People connect to brands in any setting 
  • Businesses to gain data by tapping into voice analytics 
  • Unite expected and experienced service with always-available, hands-free tech
  • Enhance personalisation through advanced voice recognition
  • Establish intent and context for SEO and better customer experience

Chat Bot Tactics for Customer Experience

4. Chat Bots

A huge part of customer experience is being available to the customer when they need you and inviting them to make contact when required. In our fast-paced world, customers need businesses to make contact opportunities as easy as possible. In our experience, customers love a live chat feature directly on the first page of a website, enabling them to reach out to you with just one click. 


If customers love it, you’re providing them with a great experience. This is how chatbots benefit the customer experience:


  • Improved customer journey: A chatbot can significantly ease the purchase process enabling customers to reach out when they have questions during their getting-to-know-you stage and when deciding to purchase your product over a competitor’s. According to PwC, 43% of all shoppers are open to paying more for greater convenience and 42% will pay more for a warm and welcoming experience. With chatbots facilitating both elements, customers will experience a smooth and improved buyer journey.


  • Real-time personalisation: Chatbots are able to personalise the customer experience in real-time as they are easily integrated with other data-driven tools. By keeping track of repeat customers, their expectations, purchase and service history, questions and feedback, the chatbots can help you provide greater consistency in the customer experience.


  • Less friction: Customers dread friction. They want to experience seamless interactions with brands, and having the opportunity to solve problems without making any significant effort. In fact, 70% of customers prefer chatbots over phone calls or emails due to the simplicity of reaching out and getting an instant response. Also, 75% reveal that they will use chatbots for the fact that their issues are resolved much quicker.


  • 24/7 help: Since a chatbot is programmed based on FAQs and optimised to recognise query intents, the bot is a great substitute for a support team - at least while they are sleeping. A chatbot feature can run automatically outside of office hours, making you available to buyers at any given time. 


  • Personifies the brand: Not only are chatbots able to identify context and underlying intentions of a query, they can also be programmed to comprehend the tone and identity of your brand and convey that in a truthful, realistic way. As authenticity and transparency are huge elements in customers choosing a brand (86% of consumers deem it crucial in deciding what brand to support), this feature can provide a huge boost for your customer experience performance.


  • Collect real time feedback: Having a conversation with the customer allows you to pick up on their reactions and thoughts as the dialogue progresses. This data is crucial in optimising your customer experience efforts. More to that, you can programme your chatbot to invite feedback from your customers at the end of the dialogue, to better understand the experience the customer is having while it is still unfolding. This will provide you with impactful business insights.


  • Focus employees: We have all heard about the fears of AI and machine learning advancements as being a potential threat to our livelihoods. Will robots steal our jobs? Not to worry, that is not the intention of features like chatbots. If anything, they are created to enable employees to take on more challenging issues and customer concerns, as the bot itself can handle the standard reach outs. Chatbots are a chance for your support staff to focus on high-value activities rather than routine tasks, and improve their service skills. 


This also correlates to AI-powered self-service. The customer can solve minor problems and obstacles themselves, making use of the chatbot self-service solutions, which frees up time for the support reps to spend on extra valuable, challenging tasks.


Leverage Dispersion - The Gig Economy for Customer Experience

5. Dispersion & The Gig Economy

In our experience, many businesses still reside in a catch-up mode on their digital advancement strategies. As the world shifts more and more toward the digital, every business is at a different stage of adopting an online presence. With an increased digital presence partly replacing elements of our physical presence, it is critical that customer experience remains at the centre of change and innovation.


Technology is a big part of the redefining of customer experiences today, especially when considering the global pandemic. While the optimal strategy incorporates the combination of right-fit technology with human-led engagement, today all of that has to be made digital, i.e. brought into a virtual context.


This is where leveraging the gig economy, aka dispersion, will play a vital role in 2021. Since more people are working remotely, businesses are less constrained by finding talent in close proximity to the physical store or office. This means that businesses can find the best talent on a global scale and digitalise the workplace (like Microsoft Teams) to fit the new talent pool. With companies no longer having to rely on local talent, they can ensure that they are hiring for top skills.


This is what we do at SnellMedia. While our strategic management team resides in Denmark, we hire top skilled marketing specialists on a global scale, in every country where we have clients. Doing so allows us to not only bring in the best talent, but also to account for nuances in norms and contexts for specific countries and seamlessly plan projects customised to our clients needs, wherever they are in the world. Lastly, this optimises our remote customer service to address each client in the best way.


The great thing about the gig economy concept is that it allows for businesses to extend hours of operation (coordination of support hours to local time) and open new geo locations with international staff supporting local customers wherever they are.


Digital revolution and advancements aren’t the only business driver today - far from it. The most important competitively driven element is excellence in customer experience strategies. With the vast majority of buyers revealing that their experience and impressions of a brand are as important as the unique offers they have, there is no denying that quality of service means a lot for your success. The digital side of this is the support of human-led online engagement and interaction.


Customer Experience and Virtual Consultations

6. Virtual Consultations

In a world of Covid-19 and repercussions from the global pandemic, a glimmer of light and creativity can be found - and an enormous glimmer at that: winning new business by virtual consultations. Now that customers and professional buyers aren’t meeting you at the brick and mortar store, consultations and guiding the customer through their problems or queries have to be made virtual.

While we agree that there is a definite need for customers to engage with a business when they need to in person, there are also definite benefits in the shaping of virtual communities and consultations. 


Virtual consultations create an ultra-low entry barrier that makes it easy for new prospects to interact with your company online without having to invest significant amounts of time, money or effort. For you to be able to reach new audiences and keep on addressing customer concerns or questions, a free virtual consultation is the way to go. Furthermore, while you can reach customers you would potentially never have captured otherwise, you can also be available to your loyal returners.


Use AI Email Marketing for Customer Experience

7. AI Email Marketing

If you haven’t yet read our recent article about how artificial intelligence can boost your email marketing campaigns, head over and get acquainted here.


AI has come a long way in recent years, and the benefits of machine learning and data analytics today are exceptional. As there is only so much time a business can put into getting to know customers the manual way, AI optimises the amount of data you can collect within a given timeframe, and stores all data for when you need it, making it a great tool for automating emails and optimising the email campaigns you serve.


Artificial Intelligence in email marketing verifies a quality element in your email campaigns through the use of high-end tech. In boosting the customer experience in email marketing, AI goes beyond the abilities of humans on speed, depth in data delivery and opportunities for more accurate predictive analytics. This amplifies personalisation and provides your customers with what they are searching for faster.


Using AI to optimise CX-elements of your email marketing helps you to:

  • Amplify the quality of your retargeting campaigns
  • Create optimised (intriguing) subject lines
  • Create customised rewards and promotions for your VIP clients
  • Continually improve campaign send times
  • Explore new micro-segments 
  • Start predicting what personalisation measures are needed
  • Create automated content to free up time on your end

Personalisation for Improved CX

8. Personalisation for Improved Customer Experience

According to a recent study by Salesforce, 84% of buyers reveal that being treated as a human being instead of a number is extremely important to winning their business. Furthermore, 70% of customers reveal that businesses doing their footwork to understand how the customer uses their product or service is just as important. 


Every year we are seeing that more and more customers want the tailored, personalised experience when businesses interact with them. Where we once pushed out marketing on billboards, signs and other physical channels for the masses, and focused on the high-value sales pitches when getting businesses to convert, now customers demand that your marketing works in the same way as a value displaying sales pitch to them directly - conveying a personal connection.


In terms of customer experience, personalisation is one of the most crucial elements. If you want to make sure that your customers stay loyal to you, advocate your brand and have a deep commitment to your particular products, personalisation is undoubtedly the do-or-die factor. And the biggest reason for that, is that customers are 2.1 times more likely to view your message as being important to them if it is personalised.


To get to know your customers on a personal level and understand what a perfect buying experience entails for them, you need to be mindful of the entirety of their customer journey. This is always step one. Customer experience at its core is defined as providing great value, great service and easy accessibility to any information across the entire purchasing process at any given touchpoint. 


When a buyer sees that you are open to put in extra effort in getting to know them and their purchasing needs, magic happens. Are you ready for that? Because truth is, companies can’t rely on their offerings as their primary competitive differentiator anymore. Today, the thickest competitive armor is delivering an exceptional experience to new and existing customers, and 88% of marketers are affirming that the incorporation of CX has significantly improved campaign performance.


Customer Experience Analytics

9. Customer Experience Analytics

This last of the customer experience trends of 2021 is something you, as a business owner, C-liner, or even employee are hopefully already well acquainted with: the power of accessing data for the improvement of current tactics and strategies.


Customer experience analytics involves collecting and analysing customer data to better understand their wants and needs, enabling you to make their experience with you more enjoyable and valuable to them. This undertaking emphasises the need for customer insights based on feedback, AI analytics and digital agents, proactive messaging and interaction as well as support conversations.


As customer experience is driven by understanding the customer lifecycle, it is vital that businesses keep track of physical and digital interactions with customers and create meaningful databases to better comprehend customer reactions and impressions of the service you’re providing. There are multiple ways of gaining knowledge beneficial to your customer experience undertakings, some of them being:


  • Traffic numbers on your websites and pages
  • Open rates (in terms of email marketing campaigns)
  • Average call time when customers reach out for support on the go
  • Ability to resolve a customer issue during first contact
  • The incorporation of the voice of the customer, and capturing their pain points in their own words
  • The performance of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) features


While we have seen many companies struggle with understanding why it is so immensely crucial to compile and analyse customer data, the advances created by adopting a learner’s mindset and exploring customer behaviours and ideals are too good to be ignored. Here are some of the benefits you will see when applying learnings and insights about your customers into a customer experience strategy:


  • Customers feeling satisfied with your services and engagement with them, leading to increased customer loyalty.
  • Tangible financial advantages across the board, especially long term.
  • The ability to predict what your customers need and deliver solutions as and when required.
  • A better understanding on how to improve practically all aspects of your business and the support systems you offer (like self-service).
  • Staying ahead of customer expectations and needs. The data you obtain will feed your customer-centricity and enable you to make sense of previous data. All quality data provides context for you to optimise for the benefit of the perceived customer experience. 


Related Searches

  • What is the role of customer experience (CX)?

The role and intention of customer experience is to adopt a learner’s mindset and gather insights from your customers to transform into tangible actions that optimise your business. It is about applying the customer view instead of imposing your view on the customer. 

With a customer experience philosophy, businesses research buyer journeys, customer views and impressions of the brand and leverage customer feedback to holistically optimise their approach to customer reach outs and create an excellent experience for the broader mass, by addressing buyers one-on-one. If you want to read more about the CX, go to the top of this article and learn more.


  • How do you satisfy customers?

While this question demands a much more comprehensive and nuanced answer per business, the core of satisfying customers is listening to them. By inviting customer and user feedback, creating an efficient analytics strategy, and adopting a customer experience philosophy, you are already on your way towards customer satisfaction.


Customer experience is all about the holistic experience that your customers have of your brand. If your business addresses the needs of your customers and stays available to them at any given moment, that experience increases. Also, if your business creates great value, quick deliveries and shows appreciation towards the customer, you're boosting customer experience. Customer satisfaction is akin to having a great customer experience - in the end the customers are happy, and your business will see great improvements because of it.


To conclude, if your business is interested in learning more about how customer experience strategies can impact the growth of your business in 2021, get in touch with us today. 


Also, if you are looking for better ways to facilitate the needs of your customers or applying insights you’ve gathered from your customers into meaningful marketing campaigns, you’ve come to the right place. As an omnichannel-focused marketing agency with a thorough customer-centricity driven approach to business, our team of experts are fully trained in what it takes to create a booming marketing and sales strategy that puts the customer at the centre. When it comes to our clients, our philosophy is to create tailored strategies for each unique client and guide them towards better approaches that address your core values. As an experienced B2B agency, we build personalised, captivating campaigns with customer experience at the heart, designed to maximise your ROI.