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2021 Trends: COVID-19 Will Redefine Customer Experience and Drive Continued Digital Transformation

By Luke Bellos December 22, 2020

2020, the craziest year in recent memory, is finally coming to an end. After months of wild twists and turns due to COVID-19, the world can finally begin to feel optimistic that restrictions could ease up over the next few months. This is also exciting news for businesses, most of which have spent the past few months getting adjusted to the temporary obstacles that prevent regular business from taking place.

Companies across the globe have shown their creativity and ingenuity by using modern remote technologies to quickly adapt to these challenges, in hopes that life would eventually get back to normal. But, the proven effectiveness of remote tech in the business space has made organizations realize that these new techniques might be worth keeping in place. In fact, the majority of organizations have already acknowledged they would implement some degree of remote working on a permanent basis.

TTEC, a customer engagement solutions provider, has recently released its annual report analyzing consumer and business behavior to identify key Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS) trends for 2021. Although it seems that society is pushing toward normalcy in 2021, the TTEC report shows that normal may have a new definition and businesses are likely to keep their remote and socially distanced strategies in place for the time being, along with other digital-first strategies that have led them through the pasat year.

“While COVID-19 forced many organizations into digital experiences, such as work-from-home, online grocery shopping, online banking, and more, the digital customer is forcing the customer experience to evolve in 2021. The ‘click to curb’ experience is here to stay,” said Nick Cerise, chief marketing officer at TTEC. “Now, many businesses are faced with the challenge of productivity, and that’s where human-centered AI will be an imperative as businesses continue to reshape their workplaces with cloud and collaboration platforms in 2021. These platforms help deliver the flexibility that powers business continuity and fuels excellent customer experience.”

The following are TTEC’s top seven trends for 2021:

  • Digital customer service takes the lead
  • Customer trust is paramount
  • Remote work ushers in new opportunities to better serve customers
  • Enterprises embrace automation with a human touch
  • Cybersecurity becomes a top priority
  • Redefine workplace flexibility
  • Diversity and inclusivity become essential

This list shows that, much like 2020, consumers and businesses will continue to be cautious of health risks whenever possible. Even with the economy projected to gradually reopen, most people will still be reluctant to jump into previous habits so quickly and will rely on their newly developed digital habits. According to Prosper Insights and Analytics, 95% of all consumers want companies to implement physical protection and distancing measures to keep them healthy. We may be heading in the right direction in terms of health and safety, but consumers are still expecting businesses to take every precaution they can. 

Remote activity will likely remain a major factor in the next year. In fact, Willis Tower Watson reports that 3x as many workers will work from home on a permanent basis. Due to the emphasized reliance of online activity, businesses will have to seriously upgrade their cybersecurity infrastructure to handle the new influx of web traffic. Along with that, consumers need to be assured that their data and financial information is secure now that online commerce is at its peak. But having that security comes at a cost, and businesses may have to adjust their budgets to put extra focus on their security features to give online customers peace of mind.

Businesses will also be likely to push for more automation, due to the possibility of lockdowns or restrictions taking place, which would allow business to continue to operate while humans can focus on their health. This trend will certainly be a benefit for business as well, with Gartner reporting that by 2024, organizations will lower their operating costs by 30% with a combination of automation and redesigned operational processes. 

The past year has also brought up the importance of addressing the major societal concerns of diversity within the workplace, and companies have started to recognize this by implementing new policies for fair and equal workplace that have been long overdue. But although it has taken time for some companies to finally address this lack of inclusivity, research has shown that it has major implications for business success. Boston Consulting Group has found that companies with a more diverse leadership have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. 

2020 has been a hectic and unpredictable experience for everyone. But thanks to the innovation and persistence businesses can take this year as a learning experience, and use this knowledge to reshape the economy for a better future.

Edited by Erik Linask
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Editor, CustomerZone360

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