2021 Digital Customer Service Trends | Predictions from Top Analysts

The pandemic is pushing brands to connect with their customers online. Digital customer service models are being transformed -- seemingly overnight. Between the rush to meet customers online and the pressure to become more efficient, digital customer service has never been more important.

Customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction are key metrics for brands moving forward. A radically customer-centric approach is critical for success. 

In this article, we'll review insights from the latest market research reports. Here's what to expect in 2021. 

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Digital customer service interactions will increase by 40%

Source: Forrester 

During the pandemic, consumers shifted dramatically to online channels. Forrester predicts that brands will continue using these channels even when COVID-19 concerns fade. 

Brands should prepare for this sustained increase in volume. With competitors operating at warp speed, now is not the time to play it safe. 

Spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30%

Source: Forrester

With consumer spending down, brands will lean on existing customers to drive additional revenue. As such, they will spend more on loyalty and retention marketing. 

Email and SMS may not be enough to encourage loyalty program engagement. With inboxes overflowing, brands will turn to other channels like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger to break through the clutter. 

Messaging channels are a seamless and convenient tool to drive loyalty -- one that innovation leaders will not overlook in 2021. They also represent an opportunity to connect with customers and create personalized experiences at scale. 

Organizations providing a TX (total experience) will outperform competitors across key satisfaction metrics 

Source: Gartner

Gartner's predictions are always highly anticipated. This year, the firm's report contained a new buzzword: "TX," or "total experience."

According to Gartner's definition, total experience combines multi-experience, customer experience, employee experience, and user experience to transform the business outcome.

TX puts customers at the center of everything -- from leadership and strategy to and operations and marketing.

Retailers and banks will create hybrid store/contact center roles 

Source: Forrester

In 2021, we'll see more retailers and banks take a hybrid approach to customer service. They'll merge virtual and in-store roles, moving employees to meet changing demands. 

This approach will give brands a flexible and reliable way to navigate change. It will also accelerate the shift towards the total experience approach. 

Brands will embrace hyperautomation

Source: Gartner

Hyperautomation is the idea that anything that can be automated in an organization should be automated. This mindset of "pushing automation as far as it can go" seems likely, given the current pressure to reduce costs. 

Gartner predicts that organizations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy, and business agility will be left behind in 2021. Though, with customer loyalty and retention as key metrics, it is important to note that customer experience should always take precedence. 

25% of brands will achieve statistically significant advances in CX quality in 2021

Source: Forrester

Forrester predicts that firms will cut CX technology spend in 2021 but will improve CX. The "total experience" mindset will lead to a consolidation of CX tools and technologies. 

The report predicts that this will save organizations hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars and help brands achieve statistically significant advances. 

Tools that are up for the challenge 

Businesses understand that digital customer service is the focus of 2021. The challenge is finding and selecting the right tools for the job. 

Brands will need tools that break down information silos between marketing, sales, and customer service teams. That is the only way to achieve a truly customer-centric or "total experience" approach. 

Messaging is uniquely qualified to address these hurdles. Brands that use conversational apps will be able to unify the customer journey more seamlessly than those that do not. Messaging will help brands strike a necessary balance between humans and automation. It will also deliver the personalized, relevant experiences customers need (and do it at scale).

Now's the time to take your digital customer service to the next level. Get in touch with the experts at Hubtype to start meeting your customers on their terms. Your customers (and bottom line) will thank you later.