Every year, I make predictions for what’s to come in the world of customer experience. After doing this for seven years, I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting trends that really do end up influencing businesses and customers.
But in 2020, no one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been a tough year. Between the pandemic, shutdowns and economic downturn, we’ve also faced environmental issues, a divisive election in the U.S., racial injustice and much more.
These events might not seem tied to customer experience, but we don’t live or work in a bubble—we’re affected by what happens all over the world. And we’ll definitely be feeling the effects of this year for years to come.
With that in mind, here are my five customer experience predictions for 2021:
1 . How We Live And Work Has Forever Changed Thanks To COVID. Nearly every aspect of life and business this year was upended because of COVID. Although a vaccine is making great progress, we will be seeing the impact of the pandemic for at least the next five to ten years. Although most people want to get back to some semblance of normal life, they are hesitant to go back to how things were.
2 . 2021: Year Of The Uncomfortable Conversation. 2020 brought about a lot of uncomfortable conversations on topics ranging from health and safety to layoffs, Black Lives Matter and supporting women and essential workers. These conversations will intensify in 2021 as individuals and companies will have to look inwardly to address these major concerns and help support underrepresented groups that have been hit especially hard this year. Customers will expect companies to take a stand and really make a difference.
3 . Putting Employees And Customers Above Profits. Many companies made huge efforts in 2020 to support their employees and customers, even if that meant their profits suffered. They invested in employee relief funds and increased benefits, while also listening to customers and providing great service. That trend will continue, and the companies that focus on people instead of profits will see great success.
4 . Ecommerce Rose Immensely And Touchless CX Makes Unignorable Leap. Companies were forced to pivot this year as stores were shut down and in-person shopping was limited. Companies across all industries have increased their e-commerce offerings. And now that customers have experienced delivery and pickup, they don’t want to go back to how things were. Touchless CX will make huge leaps in 2021 as brands work to build experiences for customers who feel vulnerable. In the coming year, brands will have to adopt digital models and creative touchless solutions.
5 . B2B Pivot. B2B companies struggled in 2020 because they depend on in-person conferences and networking that was cancelled or moved online. A number of B2B companies have already pivoted to new ways to connect with customers, and other companies must follow suit. B2B companies have to double down on customer experience through digital transformation and using thought leadership to generate leads because what worked in the past doesn’t work anymore.
In many ways, 2020 has set the stage for CX in 2021. As we come out of a difficult year, customers are looking for ease and personalization. They want companies to adapt and make a real difference in society. These trends show just how much 2020 changed us and how we can continue to recover and evolve in 2021.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.