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28 Jan 2021

An inside look at the CX trends that will define 2021

Hervé Leroux, Marketing and Communication Director at Odigo
CX trends defining 2021

2020 was a year of quick thinking and stop-gap solutions for contact centres. As it draws to a close, contact centre managers have had time to evaluate which solutions have the greatest potential going forward. Customer experience (CX) in 2021 will be the result of fresh ideas benefitting from thoughtful planning. Here are the four most influential trends to plan for:

  • Remote work and social distancing will drive CX trends,
  • Automation will increase,
  • Metrics will focus more on customer satisfaction,
  • Personalisation will become increasingly refined.

Remote work will drive customer experience trends

Remote work is here to stay. That means cloud, reliable Internet connectivity and intelligent work management tools are now prerequisites for running a successful contact centre. Cloud solutions have proven invaluable in 2020 and their adoption will continue to increase, with Forrester predicting that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021. Tougher cloud security is emerging as a leading trend, followed by increased reliance on cloud-based data recovery.

5G will soon be just as critical. For seachange technology it takes first place, with a primary potential that can be summed up in two words: video streaming – a potential game-changer in times of social distancing. With high definition audiovisual content (4K video, 3D video, etc.) soon within reach of every phone owner, reliable video will open the doors to new CX. Agents and customers will be able to show, without the need for in-person interaction, and videos with inlays of images and links will become the new standard. Customer journeys will be simplified, as interactive voice response (IVR) menus will become visual, allowing customers to tap their way to the best solution from the comfort of their home.

A third enabler of successful remote work is enhanced, easy-to-integrate workforce optimisation solutions, like quality management (QM) and workforce management (WFM). Together, they enable seamless and versatile collaboration and foster trust between contact centre managers and CX agents for closer teamwork and greater service quality even when working at a distance. QM and WFM will continue to evolve, improve, and become more individually tailored to contact centres’ specific needs.

2021 will see advances in CX automation

Another innovation supporting CX agents is intelligent automation (IA). By helping agents focus on the most essential tasks and reducing the potential for error, automation enables them to perform at their best. Customers in turn benefit from agents’ enhanced focus on high-value interactions.

Contact centre managers have seen these benefits, and they want more. According to Gartner, within the next three years, “65% of enterprise organisations that deployed robotic process automation (RPA) will introduce artificial intelligence, including machine learning and natural language processing algorithms”. This is the beginning of an explosive era of innovation in IA. The trend for customer experience will be to automate thoroughly and intelligently. In 2021, a renewed focus on digital transformation and customer-centric CX will motivate organisations to implement practical automation and self-service options. 2021 will be about streamlining that cuts costs and enhances customer experience. 

In 2021, CX metrics will finally truly focus on customer satisfaction

The ability to measure almost everything swept through the CX world years ago with the advent of many KPIs such as average handling time (AHT), time to answer (TTA) or abandon rate… In 2021 a new stage of measurement will unfold, as organisations begin to apply and analyse metrics with increased dexterity in an effort to quantify customer satisfaction.

Currently, the top three metrics for measuring customer experience are CSAT (39%), NPS (35%) and customer retention rate (33%). But contact centres are beginning to experiment with new KPIs, such as customer journey tracking (CJT). Similar to customer effort scores (CES), which measure how much difficulty a customer experiences, customer journey tracking (CJT) goes one step further, recording how customers use a service, and where customers might hit a frustration point and drop out.

Finally, long-form customer feedback is going to make a comeback, with a twist. Indeed, if reading thousands of customer essays is not practical, using natural language processing (NLP) to analyse their content is. Contact centres will start using more open-ended questions to deepen customer knowledge and gauge customer satisfaction.

The king of customer experience trends: personalisation

The trend is clear: customers want the benefits of the human touch and best-in-class customer service without leaving home. Technology is making that possible; savvy contact centres are making it a reality. So how personalised will CX become in 2021?

On the tech side, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) are already giving chatbots and voicebots impressive levels of comprehension and communication to smooth and personalise customer journeys. Going further, they reveal customers’ moods with sentiment analysis, empowering augmented agents (agents benefitting from AI-driven information feeds) to adapt to a large range of situations and show the necessary empathy in order to deftly handle issues which, in the past, would have required rerouting. NLP and ML are both developing quickly and will continue to drive innovation in the coming year.

Even more interesting will be the way that contact centre managers leverage technology to drive more personalised customer experience. Indeed, 2021’s customer experience will revolve around individual attention and a reinvigorated focus on the humanity of agents and customers. With technology enabling unprecedented individuated solutions, CX in 2021 will witness new levels of trust within organisations, powered by cloud, 5G, and imaginative use of metrics and automation. Customer experience in 2021 will be richer, human-focused and increasingly personalised.

Interested in learning more about the leading customer experience trends of 2021? Turn to Odigo, a Contact centre as a Service (CCaaS) industry leader in helping organisations improve their customer satisfaction scores and achieving more rewarding CX. Enabling over 3 billion interactions last year, Odigo’s expertise helps contact centres around the world meet their goals.

Author: Hervé Leroux, Odigo

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