The lockdowns and all the health restrictions associated with the spread of Covid-19 are now behind us. While 2022 was a year of hesitation, 2023 looks like being the year of us getting back to normal and transforming our habits. A mindset set to shake up expectations as far as the customer experience is concerned. We have identified four major challenges that companies need to embrace.

Priority: simplify the omnichannel client path

A successful customer experience is underpinned – to a great extent – by facility for the consumer and minimum effort being involved. The digital revolution has significantly contributed to the emergence of this trend. The result is that omnichannel strategies have prospered and are now essential. According to a study conducted by the Aberdeen group in 2013, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies without an omnichannel strategy. This was the case back then and it still is.

But simultaneous, transparent and interconnected interaction is still required both online and off-line, involving websites, social media, chatbots, emails, telephone calls and physical retail outlets. All of these points of contact need to be synchronised in order to share the data needed to create a seamless customer path. If this condition is met, then the simplest, most fluid and most coherent overall client experience can be delivered.

How should personal data be managed?

In this process, customisation is overwhelmingly important. It's not a question of simply knowing consumers' tastes or areas of interest. You need to be to adapt in real time to their choices and needs, but without creating any stress when it comes to their making their purchase. That does not mean being everywhere. It means being present and available where your target clients are, when they want and need you to be.

For example, a client sends messages about a particular problem via the chatbot integrated into your website, and then decides to contact your call centre. Switching from one to the other has to be simple, easy and fluid so that the consumer does not need to explain the problem again and there is no need to ask them questions about something that they have already reported.

Reply to a more demanding quest for meaning

If you contact your clients too often, you run the risk of irritating them – even those who are satisfied with your offers. And it can be counter-productive for consumers bolstering the quest for meaning in their purchases and brand choices. The increase in the cost of living is encouraging clients to make considered purchases and even to reduce their consumption. This development is increasing their interest in brands which defend their values and their beliefs, particularly for protecting the planet, despite the price of the products / services that they provide.

Is the consumer-actor establishing supremacy?

The Covid-19 pandemic and the increasingly digitised way in which we make purchases have significantly disrupted the relationships between consumers and brands. Henceforth, “consumer-actors” are making commitments in relation to societal and environmental issues. The result is that they are demanding that brands transform their commercial practices and production methods.

They also want them to double down on their efforts to improve employee well-being in the workplace, so as to adopt a position on sensitive societal and ecological issues and be more transparent in their communication. Brands that are unable to meet these expectations are going to have to reinvent themselves very quickly. Otherwise their customers will quickly abandon their offerings for those of their competitors who are more aspirational regarding their societal beliefs.

Adapt experiences, continuing to improve them on ongoing basis

Furthermore, addressing consumers' new needs and expectations is key to the commercial success of any company. This client focus effectively shapes product strategy and evidences a profound change. In 10 years, we have gone from a price and product-focused approach to a client-focused approach. Major brands such as Coca-Cola, Amazon, McDonald's, BMW and Netflix have not just revolutionised the B2C customer experience. They have also come up with an interactive and reactive way of managing their customer relations.

Co-create with B2B customers

This customer centric transformation also applies to B2B experiences. These are becoming more efficient. Thanks to more straightforward sales cycles, sales teams can create new ties with their customers and prospective customers. Interactions are more regular and detailed, guiding customers through each stage of their purchase process.

The purpose of developing a client culture should be so as to co-create offerings – and this should apply to both B2C and B2B. This is what enables them to provide tailored responses and solutions. At the same time, the company bolsters the feeling that its employees are given consideration, as well as the clients involved in the initiative. This approach also encourages collective intelligence for generating innovative ideas and getting them off the drawing board. Indeed, it mobilises creativity, cooperation, compassion and communication, as well as fostering a critical mindset in people who usually communicate in an isolated way when it comes to satisfaction surveys. With this approach, they share and are authorised to formulate new ideas, whereas previously they simply reacted to proposals and suggestions.

Demonstrate increased ecological and social awareness

One of the innovations that clients are expecting is help with consuming more effectively. This increased awareness regarding sustainable and responsible consumption is nothing new. It started during the pandemic, and is closely linked to the search for meaning when making purchases.
To show that it is aligned with these expectations, a brand should not simply use ecological and societal arguments in its communication to artificially improve its image. A greenwashing strategy will actually inflict long-term damage to the client experience and the brand’s reputation.

Break away from greenwashing

On the contrary, companies benefit from implementing concrete initiatives and commitments in relation to their corporate, social and environmental responsibility. This makes it a very good way of differentiating them from other brands with the help of a clear position and actions that have a positive impact on the environment and society, for example. The company ends up exuding confidence and security, reinforcing the attachment that its clients have to its products and services.

More than ever before, this year looks set to be the year of choice. The strategies adopted by companies can no longer ignore the areas that its clients want them to focus on. Otherwise, they will have no hesitation in switching over to competitors who do things better. It's no longer about just knowing consumer habits and desires – it's about looking into the form and content of the company's solutions.

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