The State of CX: A series on customer experience trends and beyond - empathy's key role
The evolution from customer communications to the more comprehensive approach of customer experience management represents the sea change in how businesses view their approach to customer growth and retention. The common theme in customer experience trends is acceleration. It reflects not only new demands for digital agility and analytics but also a focus on the implementation of customer journey mapping and other customer-centric tools. As a leader in CXM solutions, we’ve spoken with industry analysts, Quadient experts, and customers to deliver this series on the state of CX, which will explore each of the key customer experience trends across the CXM landscape.
Emotional connections propel customer experience
Empathy has long been a cornerstone of customer experience, and its significance saw prolific amplification in 2020. Consumer decisioning is emotional, not rational – never more so than in our permanently altered post-pandemic psyche. Customers in 2021 and beyond expect brands to be human, to create lasting emotional connections by demonstrating a deep understanding of their needs.
2020 accelerated the need to build strategies centred on customer needs and humanise experiences across every department and touchpoint. To remain competitive, brands must provide quality products and services and stability, security, and safety – all delivered conveniently and, in many cases, digitally.
The market mandate is clear: brands must qualitatively measure the “why” versus quantitatively measuring the “what” of transactions and allow this data to foster empathetic conversations. And they need to do so at scale.
This need is driving a significant rise in human-machine collaboration, leveraging digital coworkers powered by automation and AI tools. Implemented strategically, these tools enhance an employee’s humanism thanks to reduced task redundancy, increased productivity and greater happiness scores. Empowered to focus on the right high-value interaction at the right time, employees’ own empathic experience will drive CX excellence.
How experts believe empathy will affect CX strategy
- The future of customer experience is brands and enterprises being able to deliver empathy at scale to their customers - being able to put yourself into the customers place and see their perspective. How to do that is going to require a complete rethinking of the technologies, workflows, business processes, intelligence, and data that connect the customer to the company as new technologies like AI, computer vision, mobile platforms, and more responsive to changes in culture, consumers, and market.” IDC, Developing Contextual Awareness for Empathetic Conversations, Lawrence Cheok et al., Jan 2021. #AP46318521
- In the next 5 years, organisations will shift to having more empathetic conversations with their customers in real-time ways not imagined before. From sales and marketing to support and executive staff, teams will learn how data can enrich the customer experience and provide contextual communications in accordance with the customer's preference, permission, and psychological state. - Marci Maddox, Research Director-Digital Experience Management, IDC
- Enterprises will shift from esoteric ambitions to delight customers to practical plans to engage customers and improve their experience with the brand by communicating in plain, understandable language and removing friction from interactions. Artificial intelligence will assist in those connections by automating the creation of highly personalised content based on the context of the interaction and an understanding of the relationship and stage of the customer journey. - Avi Greenfield, Senior Director of Product Management, Quadient
- Aspire’s most recent research found that in the wake of COVID-19, enterprise focus shifted from customer acquisition through marketing toward improving customer retention by prioritising digital communications and superior experience. Three-quarters of American businesses reported they are increasingly focused on digital transformation, so digitisation alone will not be enough to differentiate from the competition. Furthermore, Aspire’s survey found that young consumers, the technologically savvy, and those living in households earning over $150,000 annually are not satisfied with the digital status quo. To successfully stand out from the crowd, businesses must give these consumers what they want: personalisation, true two-way interaction, channel choice, and a consistent experience across all mediums. Will Morgan, Senior Research Analyst, Aspire
- By now, brands generally know that you must provide your customers the right materials at the right time. But the area for impact lies with emotional targeting: While nearly every program acknowledges the importance of emotions to the customer experience, few are deliberately measuring and managing those emotions. Step one in 2021 is to figure out what your emotional goal for the customer is – what really matters to your company in terms of customer experience. What do you want them to feel? How do you want them to respond? Then build your change management and technology strategies to enable a sustainable, scalable empathetic experience that triggers those emotions. - Jim Tincher, CCXP, Founder & Mapper-in-Chief, Heart of the Customer
- CMOs will drive customer obsession at their firms. CMOs will put the customer at the center of everything they do: leadership, strategy, and operations. If they haven’t already, CMOs will integrate marketing and customer experience in the coming months. Spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% as these CMOs assert control over the full customer lifecycle in 2021. Forrester, Press Release, October 15, 2020.
The landscape of customer experience management is exciting, and the acceleration of change is driving new opportunities for growth. It’s crucial your business remains agile enough to adapt to not just what innovation and demands are coming, but those that have already arrived. The new normal is now, and increased focus on the role empathy plays in customer experience strategy is just one of the CX trends. Explore the others in our eBook, the State of CX.
Read more about what’s next in CX.