Tech isn't just evolving, customers are too. The pandemic showed us what brands are really capable of when their usual business strategies were suddenly disrupted. Since plenty of brands managed to successfully adapt using digital innovation, empathetic marketing campaigns, or donating to healthcare workers, it's no surprise that customers now have raised their expectations of a business's full impact.
For many brands, it was inevitable that the pandemic changed customer demand. Not only did the product demand change, but also overall expectations of the brand’s overall activity and engagement. Today’s expectations of what constitutes an outstanding customer experience isn’t quite the same as it was pre-pandemic and is likely to stay that way afterwards.
As it became the norm for brands to move their services online, it also became more of a customer expectation. Here’s a few ways that customer expectations that you’ll need to meet to shine in 2021 and beyond:
Remember the Instagram-worthy empty streets of April 2020? Since most of us were staying at home, that led to an increased reliance on the internet to get some socialization and shopping in. Many of your favorite brands probably had to up their digital engagements in multiple ways, whether it was ramping up their digital marketing, building a mobile app, incorporating augmented reality, streaming interactive dance classes on Instagram, or just revamping their websites to be noticeably more user-friendly.
The platforms that used to be luxurious competitive advantages turned out to be necessary lifelines between the customer and business. Even when we’re all back to “normal”, digital initiatives will still bear tons of fruit. Think of providing greater accessibility to a wider range of customers, such as those who’ll still be voluntarily staying home.
Greater personalization and engagement
Brands are generally becoming more human-centric, which means they’re better catering to our actual needs and circumstances rather than just broadcasting their general awesomeness. Selling today needs to cater to customer pain points, calling for your sales and marketing team to be keen problem-solvers.
Pet food e-commerce giant Chewy is a stellar example of empathetic personalization: they send personalized handwritten notes to their customers! It’s no wonder how they were named as one of the most trusted brands ever. 82% of customers state that a company’s trustworthiness matters more than it did a year ago, so building genuine trust should be one of your primary goals.
Handwritten notes are quite an arduous endeavor, so start by creating more dialogue with your customer service. Make sure your customer service team is equipped with proper resources to gain a 360 degree view into their customers, such as Salesforce Service Cloud. If you want to take the personalization further and start even before those customers have even bought anything, consider Salesforce Sales Cloud for your salespeople so they better understand who they’re selling to by viewing the prospect’s past interactions with your business.
Engaging in some social good
Several brands big and small have used their financial and material resources to fight the pandemic, including donating money for medical research, PPE for healthcare workers, or making sanitizer that smelled better than Purell. Remember that lonely April 2020 when toilet paper became an endangered species? Some brands actually stepped in to provide a coveted roll with your order. With so many shining examples of brands responsibly using their power to help others, it makes sense that 56% of customers now feel like brands should try to make a positive difference.
Ever felt turned off from buying from a brand when you discovered they Tweeted like your toxic ex? You’re not alone. 62% of customers stated that they’ve stopped buying from a brand that didn’t align with their values.
Aim for omnichannel versatility
Companies that suffered the fewest blows throughout the pandemic often had strong omnichannel presences already in place. Even if your Instagram marketing and customer service are so on point that social media influencers are screenshotting your responses, don’t ignore the other channels. Expanding your brand across multiple channels allows for greater accessibility, an important foundation for growing your audience.
Identify the most fitting social media channels for your brand and train your customer service reps and social media marketers how to address comments on each, even if you’re being insulted by questionable accounts with no profile pictures. If it makes sense to, make your social media posts shoppable. Consider a building a chatbot if you don’t have one, and if you do, make sure it’s as accurate and human-like as possible.
As intimidating as this sounds, pushing it away will have you left behind -- a PWC report found that 2020 had 80% of companies investing in omnichannel experiences compared to a mere 20% in 2019!
The pandemic has taught us the importance of versatility, adaptability, and sensitivity on both the business and personal side. To stay competitive, it’s important that businesses conscientiously engage with their customers and understand their needs rather than focusing only on developing their products for functionality itself. This means listening to and engaging with customer feedback even if it’s hard on the eyes. These actions won’t just leave you feeling good about yourself, but will positively impact your business revenue -- 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a quality customer experience!
If all the above sounds intimidating, remember that you can always start small. To lay a proper foundation, start by implementing Salesforce, particularly Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, or Service Cloud -- whichever one can give you the help you need most. Our engineers can work with them all!