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Simplicity and personalisation: What customers expect from brands in 2021

During the pandemic, customers increasingly turned to more personalised formats such as messaging to communicate with brands

Published: Mar 25, 2021 02:28:02 PM IST
Updated: Mar 30, 2021 11:48:57 AM IST

Simplicity and personalisation: What customers expect from brands in 2021
1. How has the need for seamless customer experience changed due to the pandemic?

With the dramatic events of 2020, the way we live, work and connect has forever changed. When it comes to customer experience (CX), customers are now more aware of what they want and expect from the companies they interact with. And according to the latest Zendesk CX Trends Report 2021, more than half of customers in India say this experience is more important to them now than a year ago. The good news is that companies are paying attention, with 90% of them in India agreeing with this sentiment.

Along with this increased spotlight on CX, customers are also increasingly shifting to more conversational channels like messaging apps for customer support. Drawn by its speed, familiarity and personal touch, support requests on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have spiked during the pandemic, with social messaging up 117% since February 2020.

With experience top of mind for customers, how companies create and deliver experiences can have a big impact on their revenue. According to the research, two in five customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. The pressure is on companies to equip their customer support teams with the right tools, training and processes to adapt and respond to these changing expectations.

2. What do customers in post-pandemic India seek from businesses, considering the rapid digitalisation?

The pandemic showed that during uncertain times, customers want clear and quick communication with brands on their channel of choice. Nearly two-thirds of customers in Asia Pacific (APAC) want to buy from brands that offer quick and easy online transactions.

In India, customers expect more from businesses - they want to be understood, treated as individuals, and also want to purchase from brands that align with their values and treat them well. With the pandemic casting much needed light on important social issues and disparities, more than half want customer service agents to be empathetic and close to two-thirds want to buy from companies that prioritise Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and are socially responsible.

How customers engage with businesses is also changing as a result of the accelerated digital adoption in India. Over 90% of customers there have used a new way to get in touch with customer service teams the past year, with close to two-thirds intending to keep using that channel in the future.

With three-quarters of customers in India willing to spend more on businesses that offer better CX, investing in CX should remain a top priority for businesses in 2021 and beyond.

3. Some say the employee experience is as important as the customer experience. What can Indian businesses do to improve their employee experience, particularly as working remote has brought on its own unique challenges?

Happy employees make for happy customers. And in an increasingly distributed world, companies must rethink how they work smarter across teams and India is headed in the right direction. 80% of support teams there have gone fully remote, but as high as 92% reported that they feel overwhelmed. Luckily, the large majority of companies in India (90%) are still planning to give employees more work-from-home flexibility.

It is also important to empower employees with the necessary resources, tools and technology to do their job better and smarter in this new and distributed environment. Just 14% of managers in India say they don’t have the right analytics tools to measure success for remote teams and 13% of support agents say they don’t have the right tools to work successfully from home - the lowest in the region.

Despite this, 83% of companies in India are still looking to invest in new ways to engage employees, whether it’s keeping track of performance indicators, staying connected with colleagues, or feeling supported by their companies. This also includes things like providing access to developer resources that enable them to customise support solutions to help their teams work smarter, which over 90% of teams surveyed in India now have access to. 

4. Amidst all the changes, how can businesses improve their CX?

Good CX prioritises what customers want and need, and focuses on making interactions with the business seamless, easy and consistent. In order to remain relevant, businesses must adapt their CX strategies, processes and technology to empower their customer support teams to deliver standout experiences that drive business growth.

With companies adopting technology at light speed, it’s adapt or get left behind. In fact, organisations identified as ‘high-performing’ in APAC based on customer service metrics like CSAT and reply speed, are far more likely to have adopted omnichannel solutions. More than half offer self-service in addition to other key channels including phone, email or messaging, compared to just 20% of low performers.

As customers adopt new behaviours, messaging has quickly become the preferred channel for its speed, convenience and accessibility. People want to interact with businesses the same way they already do with their friends and family, while businesses want to be able to have a continuous, personalised conversation with customers regardless of their channel of choice - whether that be web, mobile or social channels. In India, more than one in three customers prefer using embedded or social messaging to communicate with businesses. This opens the door for more streamlined, conversational experiences.

5. How is Zendesk supporting businesses in achieving better CX? What can we expect to see in the CX space during 2021?

Looking ahead, businesses can expect continued volatility, which is why it has become critical for them to set their teams up for success by emphasising agility. Customer experience leaders noted the ability to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of customers as their biggest challenge in 2020, and the highest priority going forward.

This year we are focusing on radical simplicity and zeroing in on the fundamentals of a great CX journey - a seamless, easy conversation for both the customer and the agent. As the trends indicate, we are facing an increasingly conversational world. To address this, Zendesk recently introduced the new Zendesk Suite, along with its comprehensive messaging solution. The new Suite brings together a complete package of powerful communication tools in one radically simple solution that’s easy to buy, setup, deploy, and use.

With the new streamlined messaging solution, businesses can meet their customers’s unique needs by making it easy to provide customers with the support they want, sets support teams up for success with a unified agent workspace, and helps keep businesses in sync with an open and flexible platform that is quick and easy to implement. This builds on Zendesk’s vision of radically simplifying enterprise software and democratizing the way businesses offer great CX with rich conversational experiences.

The pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.

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