person looking out from behind a big magnifying glass
PHOTO: Marten Newhall

No one knows what customer experience will look like as states slowly start to reopen, but the one thing we do know is it will be very different than the customer experience of only a few months ago. We asked a few experts what changes they expect to see in customer experience in the near future.

A Renewed Focus on User Experience Design

“Because more physical experiences will shift to digital, companies will have to work harder to stand out and build authentic connections with their employees and customers,” said Litha Ramirez, executive director of the experience strategy and design group for SPR. “Companies will have to get a grasp of how their brand is expressed in every end-user touchpoint and will need to ensure it reflects their values consistently and appropriately for every circumstance, from sales to instruction manuals to menus to customer service to invoices and receipts.”

Customers will have a much lower tolerance for confusing and complex digital experiences, which will lead to a renewed focus on UX, not just UI design, Ramirez added. Organizations need to answer the question, "Do we understand the tasks a user wants and needs to complete from their point of view?" and build the solution with the help of AI. “Every single experience your customer or employee has with your digital properties must be holistic and seamless,” Ramirez said.

Expect More Chatbots and an Increased Reliance on Analytics

While chatbot use was already growing, vendors reported clients previously would take more than a year to make purchases. The pandemic shortened the timeline to weeks. So chatbots are now and will continue to handle more of interactions in an attempt to boost CX, said Sharon Melamed, managing director of Matchboard

She continued, “customer conversations are a goldmine of data, and COVID-19 has shown many businesses that it’s possible to get a quick pulse on what customers are thinking, saying and feeling with analytics, resulting in improvements to customer service.”

Related Article: How Has the Customer Journey Shifted?

Embedding Customer Feedback Into Decision Making

Analytics and the data supporting it are important, but it’s more important to focus on the right kind of data, which Alex Azoury, founder and CEO, Home Grounds, thinks will be increasingly customer-centric in the post-pandemic environment.

“Marketers are very focused on collecting data and using that quantitative analysis to determine what to promote and how to respond to their customers,” Azoury said.

Marketers need to use that data to offer personalized, rather than canned, responses, according to Azoury. “The customer experience will involve more feedback loops and personal communications. I've already seen CEOs and company founders reaching out to customers and subscribers. They're inviting customers to speak with them on conference calls or encouraging them to reply to a 'how are you doing' email."

These CEOs are personally replying to their customers, Azoury explained. While such outreach would be extremeley unusual in the past, he expects this trend to continue.

Companies will also hold more webinars where customers are asked to participate and answer questions about their experience with a brand, according to Azoury.

After the peak of the pandemic, businesses will have to reach out to customers more than ever before, agreed Reuben Yonatan, CEO and founder of GetVoIP. “It doesn't matter that you don't have a solution at the moment, take in the feedback and work at creating a solution. Lean into technology to come up with solutions that enhance your customer experience. We've already seen brands doing this during the pandemic. Some quickly instituted cashless payments to make it easier for customers to observe social distancing. Others found innovative ways to deliver products.”

While some of these solutions will continue to deliver CX after the pandemic, the challenges observed after the peak of the pandemic will be different, meaning companies will need to come up with new solutions, according to Yonatan. For instance, how does a company handle a customer who refuses to wear a mask or sanitize before entering a business premises? Companies can use technology to offer a remote service desk for customers who are not keen to observe the necessary safety measures.

Related Article: Voice of the Customer Strategies: Effectively Turning Feedback Into Action

Trust Becomes More Important

“The most trusted leaders and brands will have a big competitive advantage in the new normal that evolves in a post-Corona world,” said Paige Arnof-Fenn, CEO and founder of Mavens & Moguls. “Employees, customers and clients will remember who treated them well during the crisis and they will be rewarded with loyalty from earning that trust during the bad times.We have learned that it is about touching people in meaningful ways which may mean being less busy, not more, for a while. Once we lay this groundwork it all will be in place to continue moving forward as the economy reopens and some businesses come back quicker than others.”

Related Article: Customer Trust: Are We Experiencing an Existential Crisis?

Actionable Steps to Improve CX in the Short-Term

Companies have become more digitally focused than ever, and even after the pandemic is no longer top of mind, non-digital interactions won’t return to their previous level, said Aiden Angeli, Ripe Marketing senior marketing consultant.

With that in mind, Angeli recommends these actionable steps to increase CX:

  • Instead of doing all your communication via email and calls, try video calls and texting short video messages.
  • Keep track of customer birthdays and anniversaries. Instead of sending an email with a discount code, send an actual birthday card with a gift card.
  • Over deliver on every promise you make. If you say the package will be there in five to seven days, have it delivered early. If you offer 15-minute strategy sessions, email them check lists and worksheets afterwards. Keep adding value and help solve more of their problems.
  • Strive to create an emotional experience with each interaction. People forget what you say or do but always remember how you make them feel — good or bad.
  • Send surveys or have a manager call immediately after a purchase or customer service call for feedback in real time. Follow-up is important, as long as it is not pesky.