Gartner believes that the past year has ‘fundamentally rewired’ the way consumers live. Our previous lives of in-person, public experiences are unlikely to return, with 77% uncomfortable with going back to an outward-facing culture. This change in attitude has brought about increased requirements and expectations for the kind of experiences provided when interacting with brands. As consumer behavior becomes focused more on private interactions, it’s up to brands to meet consumers where they are, on the channels they favor or they risk losing customers to businesses adapting to their new circumstances.
Demand for Businesses to Communicate Over Messaging Channels is Growing
The change in consumer attitudes is backed up by a survey we conducted last year, which showed consumers were keen to continue online shopping, appointment booking and using click-and-collect services post-Covid. This doesn’t mean that they’re willing to accept inferior experiences just because everything is becoming digital. If anything, expectations of digital CX are growing.
Conversocial’s fifth State of CX Trends Report found that 69% of consumers have communicated with a brand over private messaging channels - a 13% increase on 2019. More telling than that, 81% expect to be able to have conversations and engage brands over messaging channels. These rising expectations are likely to have lasting implications for brand/consumer relationship management well beyond 2021.
Exceptional CX is the Key to Customer Retention
Delivering good customer experiences is vital for brand loyalty - 68% of customers rate it as very important, with nearly 90% likely to become repeat customers after receiving great CX over messaging channels.
We even found that exceptional experiences (28%) has overtaken quality of product (23%) and competitive pricing (24%), as the most influential factor in customer retention. Existing customers are more likely to buy from a brand than new ones, and 80% of consumers actually want businesses to directly communicate with them after a sale.
The question is, how to offer seamless and exceptional experiences that will turn first-time buyers into returning customers?
Automation Needs Time and Investment
The short answer is: automation. The slightly longer answer: automation with great conversational design.
69% of consumers are happy to interact with bots if it improves their experience, but less than 50% of those who took part in our survey believe bots and automation are able to provide a better customer experience.
Not all bots are created equal. There’s clearly a belief that automation can be integral to exceptional CX, but a relative mistrust, potentially based on a bad experience when interacting with a bot in the past. As Conversocial’s automation experts will tell you, conversational design isn’t straightforward and very easy to do badly. As Google’s Rob Lawson told us during his Conversations with Conversocial “When automation is easy and good, we prefer it.”
In 2021 it’s vital for brands to figure out how to use bots and AI in a way that adds real value for their customers. By focusing on a specific use case or business challenge to begin with, and getting it right, brands can create a platform for threading it throughout a number of touch points across the customer lifecycle.