To say 2020 was a year full of disruption is an understatement. From dealing with a global pandemic and navigating related lockdowns to embracing a contactless, digital-first world, companies had to quickly adapt. As frenetic as 2020 was, 2021 is presenting the business world with a new set of circumstances and nuances to navigate — particularly when it comes to their customer conversation strategies.
With that in mind, here are three key trends businesses need to keep in mind to have smarter customer conversations in 2021:
1. Soar toward the cloud
As businesses face sweeping changes because of COVID-19 and shift to support the new way of doing business, it’s more critical now than ever to accelerate digital transformation efforts and take the “digital first” imperative to a whole new level. With employees working remotely and other online interactions becoming the new norm, businesses need to rethink how this impacts the way they communicate with their customers — whose preferences have also shifted dramatically and digitally.
This will be challenging for many businesses, as key processes will need to be upended and reengineered. However, companies that successfully migrate to cloud-based technologies will be able to offer more coordinated and intuitive conversations with their customers and ultimately improve and streamline the overall experience for both employees and customers.
2. Unsilo the data, or else
The communications process is often plagued by data inefficiencies. And unfortunately, many businesses still lack a cohesive approach to data integration that is critical to making customer conversations successful. To be effective, businesses need data from a multitude of sources including CRM, ERP, IoT and more. By breaking down silos that exist between these datasets, businesses can compile a more complete view of the customer and make their data more actionable and consistent across all channels. If not, they risk alienating customers — who increasingly value personalization above all else.
3. Embrace empathy towards “at-risk” customers
With unemployment numbers at sky-high rates and complete economic recovery still a long way off, the number of financially vulnerable customers continues to be remarkably high. Letting these individuals slip through the cracks will result in dire personal consequences and can negatively impact businesses as well. In addition to the financial risk, a firm’s reputation may suffer if they take an inappropriate emotional tone. This can adversely affect customer satisfaction and retention. Therefore, businesses must carefully analyze data to identify and have appropriate conversations with these “at-risk” customers early and find ways to help them through this challenging time with proactive offers. When these customers are in a better place, they will reward the businesses that do so with their loyalty.
With new challenges continuing to arise and customer expectations continuing to increase, 2021 will be a critical one for those looking to evolve their customer conversations management programs. However, by leaning into a forward-thinking strategy and embracing new technology, businesses can position themselves for success both short and long term.