Digital customer communication in 2021 - Our experts' predictions
A tempestuous 2020 derailed many business and marketing strategies – organizations scrambled to adapt to a rapidly changing, more digital environment to stay afloat and meet the needs of both their customers and employees, whose lives literally changed in an instant.
While the dust has settled a little, 2021 won’t be all that different – except that everyone now knows to expect the unexpected.
The quick changes that organizations implemented to weather the storms of 2020 will be the foundations upon which they can build, to ensure success in 2021 and in the uncertain future ahead.
We will see most brands becoming increasingly digital, more agile and in turn, more responsive, flexible, efficient and customer centric – customer experience (CX) will undoubtedly remain a key priority. And to help drive their CX goals, organisations will be sure to include hyper-personalised, digital customer communication in their digital arsenal.
So, what can we expect from the realm of digital customer communication in 2021? We chatted to our digital customer communication experts to find out what their predictions are for the year ahead.
Customers will vote with their attention
Customer experience is a constantly moving target – just as organisations “catch up,” the expectations of their customers have already moved on. And with statistics identifying customer experience as being the key differentiator for organisations in the future, they have no option but to keep evolving in order to remain competitive.
In 2021, I think we will see customers become more protective of their time and attention. As the amount of digital noise increases in their lives, customers will become more aware of the digital engagements that add value to them, and those that don’t. And once triaged, jumping from the “doesn’t add value to my life” bucket into the “makes my life easier” bucket, will be very difficult.
As a result, 2021 will see customers judge the service of their providers more critically by the level of thought, usefulness and relevance that goes into each customer engagement. For digital customer communications, this means that customers will expect organisations to provide relevant information, presented in the ideal way and with the correct level of usefulness and functionality.
I think we will see more customers vote with their virtual feet, which is especially concerning for those organisations that are not communicating effectively.
Relationships cannot be built in silence and the lack of communication will result in disengaged and disloyal customers that are easily lured by the sweet promises of competitors.
The good news is that I have also seen many examples of providers strengthening their relationships with customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, almost all of them had very strong digital communication strategies.
Foundation laid for an evolutionary leap in digital customer communications
Over the past few years I have seen organisations steadily shift their focus and budget towards improving customer experience. In 2020, the impact of COVID-19 pushed this shift into hyper-drive.
Organisations and customers were thrust from a world where “going digital” was optional and transformation was gradual, to one where “going digital” has become mandatory and transformation is a matter of survival. As a result, more resources, expertise and technology have been directed towards building meaningful digital relationships with customers than ever before – and digital communication has been a key part of the strategy.
Going into 2021, I see this trend continuing. As the world accepts and embraces the “new normal,” resources will continue to be pushed into creating the ideal digital experience across the customer journey. I believe that this influx of resources and brainpower will lay the foundation for an evolutionary leap in digital channels going forward. A broader base of the business will look to understand, support and fund the value of digital customer experience, which will naturally flow into the organisation’s digital communication strategy.
I am already seeing broader interest across many businesses in how digital communication can improve their customer’s experience, drive customer engagement as well as channel adoption and ultimately build more meaningful relationships with customers
Customers will demand a consistent brand experience
As more customers across the globe move onto digital platforms, they will expect companies to have a consistent voice and message across all of them. There is no doubt that companies have been aiming for this over the last few years, but it will now become an expectation rather than a nice to have.
Companies will need to move away from a siloed approach across different digital platforms, as customers are definitely going to expect a more consistent experience and become annoyed if they are treated differently on social media versus email.
Increased focus on privacy and security
As customers become more accustomed to using digital platforms, they are likely to share more of their personal data with companies. This will give companies a far better understanding of their customers, their buying behaviour as well as propensity to buy, which will enable hyper-personalised offers and communications.
However, due to the recent high profile data breaches, customers will become more wary of the data they are sharing and as a result, expect companies to make data privacy and security a key priority.
Organisations will have to step up their data privacy and security efforts, which includes the way they handle data and communicate sensitive information.
Personalisation is not a new concept, in fact we have been talking about the need for hyper-personalised digital communications for years, but in 2021 we are going to see brands push this to the next level! Brands will have to connect with their customers on a human level, by generating personalized and human experiences.
AI, behavioural segmentation and dynamic content are all ways organisations can place people at the center of their communications. This will ensure the creation of personal and relevant content.
If 2020 was all about survival, 2021 will be about building a post-pandemic world.
2021 Is going to be about taking the learnings from 2020 and enhancing customer experiences to incorporate trust. This is because, in the last 12 months, consumers have become far more digitally savvy and aware, forcing brands to be more transparent about collecting and storing data.
People are usually happy to share their information and data with brands that they trust, but companies need to assure them that their data is safe and secure and only used primarily to manufacture the personalised and relevant experiences they expect.