5 Top Consumer Trends In 2021
Updated: Jan 25
It’s fair to say that 2020 has brought many disruptions to the world. A year that has also seen major changes in the consumer experience. More than ever today, companies need to know how to adjust to new consumers’ expectations. As the pandemic accelerated the use of digital on so many levels, the way organizations have to deal with consumers has drastically changed.
Clearly, we will never go back to the pre-pandemic world. Today, in 2021, let’s embrace these changes together. Here are the main consumer experience trends today.
1. The fine line between automation and humanity
Automation holds a wide range of advantages for digital consumer experiences. As stated here, in 2022, “companies are expected to have an average of 35 artificial intelligence projects in place”.
But that doesn’t mean that human customer service should be left aside. Consumers in 2021 are still reluctant to trust chatbots; just 63% of consumers are satisfied with service from a chatbot because they know they can contact a human advisor at any given time if they need it.
The consumer’s trust in automation is still being built. As humans, our interactions are emotionally based, and we tend to seek reassurance and empathy.
It’s crucial to find the balance between artificial intelligence and humanity. There is a need for both. The best is to combine the strongest aspects of both to significantly enhance the consumer experience. Mastering this balance is a true key to success.
2. An increasing presence of bots
Today’s bots are seen as a highly valuable tool for customer service. It goes without saying that bots are highly valuable for marketing and sales purposes too. Now, chatbots are being integrated into social media channels (most recently Instagram) to automatically respond to users.
Chatbots will continue to significantly help businesses to improve their consumer experience. Their various convenience factors, like instant help, time/money efficiency, data collection, and lead generation can bring incredible results.
At the end of the day, bots have the capability of creating the best possible experience for a consumer. Bearing in mind that, realistically, artificial intelligence is built by humans, and humans make mistakes. In other words, automation may not be 100% perfect, but we’re getting there.
3. Hyper-personalized experiences
For many years, personalization has been a focal point for marketers. Today, automation has the power to fulfill the psychological needs of a consumer, through personalized and customizable conversations.
According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name, their purchase history, and/or recommends items based on their purchase history.
Bots are an amazing asset for personalization. For example, when a consumer chats with a bot, the bot will remember and utilize elements of the previous conversation. Bots go beyond just having a conversation. If the bot in question has been built with specific personality “traits” and characteristics, chances are, your customer journey will be significantly enhanced and conversation rates will increase. The more human the bot sounds, the better.
4. Transparency within communication at each touchpoint of the journey
Transparent communication will help achieve honesty and integrity. Nowadays, trust is a powerful commodity as the digital world lets the consumer easily shift to other options.
A Forbes article states “Over 90% of consumers say transparency by a brand is important to their purchase decisions.” Transparency is one of the most important trends of our times. What does it mean in the consumer experience world?
It really goes down to 3 main elements:
Making information more accessible, admitting to mistakes and rectifying them, and last but not least, embracing data protection.
Nowadays, consumers should be able to find information instantly and almost effortlessly on social media channels or on a company's website. In 2021, when information is requested, it should be immediately provided with the most accurate information.
With a growing digital presence, expectations are even higher today. In the consumer experience you provide, make sure to respect the 3 A’s: acknowledge, apologize, address.
In this day and age, being transparent with the collected consumer data (or/and used by the company) is also crucial. In other words, it means using data with integrity: being completely sincere as to how the data is being collected and who has access to it. (It’s important to note that if your company is EU-based, it needs to be GDPR compliant.)
5. Legal and governance setup
Data protection and customer privacy are more important than ever. Consumers have never been this connected, and as result, have never shared this much information. However, they are still aware and concerned about businesses collecting and selling personal information without permission.
Privacy matters to everybody, sometimes for different reasons and to a different extent. But privacy has now become an expectation: consumers value it as something they expect to receive. Misused information can result in serious complications that can cost a fortune to repair.
Examples of Corporate Governance are integrated business management systems, policy management systems, adhering to ISO standards (ISO certification), and routine internal audits.
To wrap it up, 2020 has been the start of a tough period for organizations and their consumers. But in 2021, in a progressively digital world, this can be the year that you change your customer experience for the better. Consumer experience has never been this important. If you don’t make it a big concern for your organization, chances are, your consumer will go see the competition. Focus on your customer experience and make it right!
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