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Customer Experience in the New Normal: Lessons Learned One Year into the Pandemic

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how organizations deliver differentiated online customer experiences

Innovation and adaptability are inherent aspects of any robust customer experience strategy – and they have both evolved as the world underwent a significant change this past year. It’s no secret that business growth hinges on how well organizations listen to their customers and react accordingly. This lesson has been imperative in 2020.

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The pandemic brought unprecedented disruption to our daily lives – and forever altered how we interact with brands and make purchases. Many roadmaps already included revamped customer experience (CX) strategies, but they became an essential means of survival as store closures went into effect and consumers were driven online. New adoption of contactless technology – like curbside pick-up, self-service shopping, and facial recognition functionality – helped stores find new customers and address safety concerns. But while some organizations were well-equipped to handle the massive pivot and direct customers to digital shopping channels, many were not. Conversion rates slipped and sites crashed as traffic surged. In our online, on-demand world, digital customer experiences have never been as important because more customers are experiencing brands through online channels than ever before.

We are one year into the pandemic, and many businesses have learned lessons about how to engage and connect with their customers in new ways. Here are three that made the greatest impact on the new normal of customer experience:

1. The power of personalized journeys

There are now more brands and options to choose from than ever. Where consumers put their dollars has a direct say in which businesses will thrive, and which will slowly disappear. To stand out and capture loyalty, brands need to create personalized digital experiences that offer differentiated end-to-end shopping journeys. It will depend wholly on an organization’s effort to centralize their data across sales, service, marketing, and commerce. The data can then be used to know customers as individuals in order to offer relevant content at specific moments throughout the journey, and consistently communicate effectively.

For example, new artificial intelligence (AI) functionality has the ability to offer customers a selection of tailored products and services based on unique shopping behavior and other relevant indicators – this can include promotional offers, pop-up recommendations, and loyalty program options. These efforts drive a compelling customer experience and encourage return visits.

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2. Changing business models

As much as the pandemic drove changes in buying behavior, it also impacted how brands connected with customers. Businesses learned that they should meet customers where they already are. This mindset has paved the way for social commerce to thrive, and conceivably grow the market size 31% by 2024. The direct-to-consumer (D2C) model is also gaining momentum as consumers show an increased interest in subscription orders and purchasing directly through manufacturers. Digitally savvy business-to-business companies have also been able to pivot effectively during the pandemic to create and launch a D2C model successfully.

One of our retail clients, FILA, understood the importance of a strong D2C channel and worked with our Digital Customer Experience team to quickly implement a content-driven solution for a new area of their business. This strategy helped FILA enhance their customer experience and see impressive growth, including a 164% increase in FILA’s year-to-date conversion rate.

3. Website optimization

Most marketers know that an optimized digital footprint – one that includes a robust search and analytics strategy – is a key differentiator in the marketplace and can help consumers find products and services more easily. To increase an organization’s share of voice in 2021, start with the basics; ensure your digital channels’ foundation is built on solid ground by integrating search engine optimization best practices. Then, tap into your platform’s capabilities to monitor site traffic and analytics. Let the analytics provide actionable insights to enable the business to become data-led versus data-driven.

By paying close attention to how customers engage with specific aspects of each digital channel, organizations can pinpoint specific areas of conversion and abandonment. For the latter, this easily identifies areas where organizations can increase customer experience efforts. It is especially important to address these gaps as LambdaTest research shows more than half of mobile users leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

Trust is integral to customer experience

There have been a lot of changes to the marketplace since March 2020 – however, customer satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with a compelling digital experience. To satisfy customers and deliver on an expected experience, organizations need to ensure trust is established; this is particularly imperative in 2021. There needs to be a trust that companies will be respectful of customer data and use it to establish personalized experiences that further the interests of the customer. Salesforce research shows 91% of customers say they’re more likely to trust companies with their personal information if companies are upfront about how their data is used. Now is the time to connect with customers on an entirely new level built on trust and usher them into the new phase of digital transformation and engagement in a post-pandemic world.

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