How to create outstanding customer experiences in the 2020s 

How to create outstanding customer experiences in the 2020s 

The 2020s are proving to be the decade of exciting and revolutionary technology within reach of businesses that are willing to adapt to use it to improve customer experience. Here, James Frampton, SVP and General Manager EMEA, SugarCRM, explores the skills that must be implemented and aligned across all teams, and how companies can use AI and emotional intelligence alongside current CRM technologies. 

The 2020s are shaping up to be the decade of revolutionary technology with the continuing evolution of smart technology in the customer experience sphere. We’ve seen how Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and now the Metaverse are all enhancing customer experiences and taking them on journeys they have never been on before. 

Those that are embracing new customer experience technologies are excelling in customer retention rates. Similarly, companies that fail to establish high-definition customer experiences are encountering increasing levels of customer churn. In fact, recent research has found that almost three-quarters (71%) of UK sales and marketing leaders suspect customers are leaving due to poor customer service or experience and 55% of consumers said they are not likely to continue being a customer of a company that ignores their feedback. Higher customer expectations are pushing businesses to constantly improve and strengthen their relationships and delve into new customer service skills and approaches, using Artificial Intelligence and harnessing data to improve the customer journey.   

To achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, professionals must leverage the most important skills and technologies to align with evolving customer experience technology and trends evolve. 

So, what are the best ways to make customer experience soar in the 2020s? 

Embrace self-service alongside live agents 

Customers want to be supported at every touchpoint along their journey with a brand. With more than eight in 10 sales and marketing leaders (81%) believing the reason their customers leave is because of a lack of communication and personalised, relevant messaging, this will undoubtedly continue throughout the 2020s and beyond. The uptake of self-service will continue to be popular among customers for the 24/7 ease of interacting with a brand on their own schedule. 

They desire a self-serve interaction that is quick, easy and makes the best use of their time rather than being presented with a default answer that is irrelevant to their specific query. 

However, this doesn’t undermine the use of live agents. On the contrary, customers still want to be truly understood by a human when there is a problem, or they want to understand how a product or service will best meet their needs. To answer a customer’s query, frontline support agents need to be armed with the right technology, resources and shared knowledge to diagnose and solve problems quickly. 

Harness data to drive sales and interactions 

Today, data plays a huge role in fuelling the customer experience. And yet, a primary struggle for many organisations is that they have an incomplete view of customer activity. Currently, half of sales leaders admit that they cannot access customer data across marketing, sales and service systems, leaving customer-facing team members without a clear picture to make both strategic and tactical decisions. Once the data is collected, organisations can then use AI to interpret it to help predict customer retention rate or ‘churn’ and trigger proactive actions to retain profitable customers. 

Embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

AI has shaped customer experiences over the past five years and will continue to do so and become easier as it advances and organisations integrate it properly. AI can help drive more profitable outcomes such as intelligent lead scoring, predictive forecasting, personalised recommendations and next-best actions, as well as predicting and preventing churn. AI-powered automation is changing CX experience teams’ workload with machines doing more repetitive, labour-intensive tasks, allowing teams to work on more complex, higher-value and revenue-generating tasks. 

Foster emotional intelligence 

Designing an emotionally aware organisation is increasingly rising to the top of the boardroom agenda. 

AI is replacing conventional feedback surveys and the manual task of sorting through large data sets to understand customer sentiment. AI uses sentiment analysis capabilities to amplify CRM system functions such as sales, marketing and service interactions, along with the insight of knowing each customer’s emotional state and intent. This is done through leveraging a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and AI to surface next-level or next-best action for empathic customer engagement. Frontline agents can then understand how to respond using customer behaviours and emotions. 

Ensuring that empathy is at the forefront of marketing strategy leads to an increase in new customer generation, as well as increased trust amongst existing customers. 

Align teams to create coherence and increase functionality 

Perhaps the biggest concern when there are continuous advances in technology is the misuse of such technology and misalignment on how to use it coherently. This is no different when aligning IT, marketing, sales and CRM teams across the customer experience landscape. To do so involves creating an environment with open communication so that employees can be transparent about what is and isn’t working for them. Once this is established, all teams can work towards creating a customer-centric mindset, choosing the right technology and management tools to help all teams work towards unified KPIs and expectations. 

Businesses must also understand the benefits of using a shared CRM data system that can use the data collected from sales, marketing and CRM teams to connect stakeholders. Such benefits include saving time on administrative tasks with the CRM system compiling a complete real-time customer view and providing actionable insights for teams to use to act decisively at every critical touchpoint. 

Companies that are focused on continuously improving customer experiences are more likely to succeed and retain customers. This needs to be underpinned by flawless support at every customer touchpoint. To do this, companies need to ensure that the right technology – specific to the individual company – is integrated so that teams are always aligned to hit KPIs and deliver great customer support fit for the 2020s. 

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