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Zendesk Research Predicts: Business Success in 2021 Hinges on Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences

Global Annual Customer Experience Trends Report 2021 shows customers continue to be more demanding, making it harder for businesses to meet expectations in a post-pandemic world

Despite 2020 being a year of far-reaching and rapid transformation in how people live, collaborate, and connect, the global Zendesk Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report 2021 shows the customer experience is increasingly crucial to business success, and that the most successful companies are adopting new technology at record speed. In fact, new data released today shows that among tech decision makers, 75% say COVID-19 sped up technology adoption at their companies. At the same time, half of customers say that experience is more important to them now compared to a year ago and 63% of companies say their organization prioritizes CX more than a year ago.

Further highlighting the acceleration of technology, a Gartner survey conducted in 2020 found that 91% of organizations said that CX was one of, or the primary goal of, their digital business transformation efforts.

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“Against the 2020 backdrop of dizzying change, companies adapted in ways they never thought possible. With the customer experience more important than ever before, having the right strategies to meet customers where they are can make or break a business’ success,” said Shawna Wolverton, Executive Vice President, Product, Zendesk. “The fundamentals of business remain the same, but the need for relationship-driven, conversational customer service accelerated at an unprecedented rate.”

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From navigating changing behaviors to adopting new channels to reimagining the workforce, the Zendesk CX Trends Report 2021 gives companies a roadmap to navigate this new CX landscape so they can champion good customer service at every turn. Top findings include:

Stay ahead of the digital curve: Companies are adopting technology at light speed, and it’s adapt or get left behind. Of the 75% of companies that say the pandemic sped up technology adoption, 50% say it has accelerated by 1-3 years, while 25% say it’s accelerated by 4-7 years. As organizations invest in the customer, they are prioritizing seamless omnichannel service, better IT security, agile technology, collaboration tools and the digital workplace.

Be part of a more conversational world: As customers adopt new behaviors, the soaring popularity of messaging apps opens the door for more streamlined, conversational experiences. Sixty-four percent of customers have tried a new way to get in touch with customer service in the last year. For many, that includes using messaging for support requests over apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which spiked significantly during the pandemic with social messaging up 110% year over year.

Realize the power of employee experience: In an increasingly distributed world, companies must rethink how they work smarter across teams. Many employees still don’t feel like they have the right tools to succeed in this new and often distributed environment, whether it’s keeping track of their performance indicators, staying connected with their colleagues, or feeling supported by their companies. Forty percent of managers say they don’t have the right analytics tools to measure success for remote teams, and 46% of agents don’t have the right tools to work successfully from home.

Set teams up for success by emphasizing agility: Facing continued volatility, service and support organizations must find ways to keep up with their customers. Customer experience leaders cited the ability to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of customers as their biggest challenge in 2020 and the highest priority going forward.

Make it easier for customers with a focus on CX: Unprecedented in speed and scale, the recent surge in online channels puts pressure on companies to meet rising expectations as customer experience takes center stage. The vast majority (75%) of customers say they base their purchasing decisions on whether or not a company offers a good customer experience, while 80% will still take their business elsewhere following bad experiences – a figure that remains consistent year over year.

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