Customer Experience in 2021
2020 has slipped away, thank goodness. One thing we have learned about the last year is that it is difficult to forecast events. We can predict trends because these are long-term but it is not always easy to know what incident or occurrence is around the corner. The pandemic caught all of us out.
After the understandable distraction of last year, we should spend a few minutes thinking about the longer term trends that we need to be aware of in the world of customer experience.
We have been living through rapid technological changes over the last decades. The pandemic has given digital services a big lift. Companies with online resources and particularly those that have been able to weave them into customer experience have done well. Home deliveries of groceries are a great example of combining the technological wizardry of online ordering with the welcome arrival of the delivery van on the doorstep. The technological trends we can expect over the next few years will be a continuation of digital marketing as well as eye-opening opportunities from artificial intelligence. The world of customer experience in the future will amaze us because we will wonder how our suppliers knew in advance about our needs.
In customer experience we have learned to recognise segments of the population. The Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are still with us in considerable numbers. They account for around 30% of the population in developing countries. These people have money so we shouldn't forget them even though they are a bit stuck in their ways. They appreciate having their hands held (metaphorically) when being served by suppliers. In their wake are a group of people with different attitudes and abilities. We need to understand how to serve the very significant populations made up of Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z because in the future there will be more of them and fewer Boomers.
The world has woken up to environmental issues over the last few years (thank goodness). We are reminded about the fragile nature of our planet every day by lobby groups, protests, and wildlife documentaries. Our customers in the future will not be happy unless we can demonstrate that we have seriously made our offer as an environmentally friendly as possible.
Inevitably the forces of technology, nature and economics are changing our behaviour. People have traded off price for convenience. Massive superstores are being replaced by local shops. Consumers who have been forced to work at home and order online have changed buying habits many of which will remain ingrained. Fast fashion, which encouraged a throwaway society, will be under pressure from Generation Z who abhor waste and will trade a new set of clothes for supporting a worthy cause.
An area of uncertainty about the next few years is the economy. There will be a rebound following the global Covid vaccination programme but there are financial consequences that are hard to ignore. Governments have taken on a huge amount of debt and although interest rates are low, it all needs to be repaid. There will be a shifting of the workforce into occupations that support the demographic, technological, and sustainable trends we have talked about. However many of those occupations do not pay well and there may not be enough of these jobs to compensate for the shakeout. We worry that the good times we have seen over the last decade may not last forever. For us in the world of customer experience, it will mean the competition will be fiercer and we must be prepared to move quickly, innovate, and run harder than ever.