7 Customer and Employee Experience Trends Shaping 2021

Businesses in Asia-Pacific have an opportunity—and a challenge—in 2021 to adapt to an increasingly digitised world and ensure that their customer relationships outlast the coronavirus pandemic. Get ready to hit the reset button on customer innovation and reshape the employee experience.

Here are 7 trends we identified to help navigate the new customer and employee landscape and how to make them actionable today. Now is the time to be bold, the world is evolving and so should you.

Trend 1: The digital customer takes the lead

The pandemic propelled many emerging digital behaviours such as online banking, online grocery shopping and telemedicine into mainstream use. And there’s no going back. For example, 60% of adults in Australia said they’ll continue to use online personal training, online grocery delivery and wellness according to research by McKinsey & Co.

From early adopters to customers who are using digital channels for the first time, many now see digital as the first—or only—point of contact with brands.

Tip: Not every digital customer is the same, especially those who are new to digital service channels. Keep an eye on customer success metrics and look for opportunities to improve the experience, such as with soft skills training or new learning curricula.

Trend 2: Customer trust is paramount

More than ever, customers need to feel safe in order to do business with a brand. Customer perception and trust are critical. This is true virtually with customer data and physically with masks, cleaning and other pandemic safety protocols.

The average customer’s comfort level could also shift, depending on various factors. Monitoring real-time customer sentiment and other sources of customer insight are important to ensure businesses deliver the right experience when it matters most to their customers.

Tip: Be transparent about the company’s customer safety protocols and if something goes wrong, quickly acknowledge the error. Brands that are perceived as withholding information or being uncommunicative will swiftly lose customer trust.

Trend 3: Remote work ushers in new opportunities to better serve customers

The intersection of remote work and digital innovation is poised to transform customer relationships. As more business is conducted from home, the status quo is getting up-ended with text-messaging, 24/7 support access, and other tools to enable an immediate, digital-first experience.

Companies have an opportunity to reimagine customer support with new digital self-service tools, processes, and solutions to increase resolution rates, reduce customer effort, and increase brand loyalty.

Tip: Map remote or digital customer journeys to understand where friction occurs at critical touchpoints and make them as effortless and engaging as face-to-face interactions to improve the overall customer experience and retain customers.

Trend 4: Enterprises embrace automation with a human touch

COVID-19 pushed legacy systems and procedures well past peak capacity. It also exposed costly inefficiencies and a reliance on manual processing.

As digital demands increase, companies are moving up roadmaps for integrating more automation and AI into processes and workflows. For example, automating simple tasks in the contact centre reduces costs while increasing speed and compliance.

Tip: Identify simple versus complex tasks. Which high-volume tasks can be resolved quickly via automation and which ones would a skilled human associate add value to with the support of a virtual assistant in the background?

Trend 5: Cybersecurity becomes a top priority

A shift to remote work and increased digital services has placed a spotlight on cybersecurity. According to Reuters, Australia may spend $1.7 billion over the next 10 years on cybersecurity defences after a rise in cyber-attacks.

In many cases, cybersecurity and IT professionals are under pressure to achieve more with tighter budgets. The ability of IT teams to quickly shift priorities as the company’s needs change will be critical as businesses adapt to a new reality.

Tip: The cheapest cybersecurity option is not always the best option. Define your organisation’s needs and risk tolerance before deciding what level of support is necessary and keep in mind that those needs could rapidly accelerate.

Trend 6: Redefine workplace flexibility

As more employees demand workplace flexibility, strategies for driving productivity and engagement must also change. Leading companies will differentiate themselves by equipping employees with the right tools, training, and resources to succeed whether they’re working from home, in a corporate office, or in a hybrid arrangement.

Tip: Use workplace flexibility as a recruiting tool—collaborate with teams across the organisation such as HR, legal, and IT for ideas on how to attract new talent with innovative employee experiences.

Trend 7: Diversity and inclusivity become essential

From startups to Fortune 500 corporations, employers are waking up to the fact that diversity and workplace inclusivity are more than a hot topic—they’re essential to building a thriving business. Employees from different demographic groups, cultures, sexual orientations and other background origins are a key driver of innovation and marketplace understanding. And when employees feel valued, that drives increased positive performance results, retention and engagement.

Tip: Practice having sensitive conversations with an AI bot designed for this purpose to receive objective, measured feedback as well as specific coaching to improve real conversations faster and more efficiently.

Be ready for change

2020 taught us that CX is never stagnant. Work, life and play was turned on its head and we had to change. This year it’s time to take these changes and turn them into real results that are not only about adapting but thriving. Stay ahead of the competition by anticipating customer and employee needs and expectations every step of the way.

If you’ll like to learn more about the trends shaping customer and employee experience, download TTEC’s APAC CX Trends: the 2021 Edition today.