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Editor’s Question: How have customers’ expectations changed within the last 18 months?

Editor’s Question: How have customers’ expectations changed within the last 18 months?

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Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru explains how customers’ expectations have changed in the last 18 months.

Consumer behaviour is far from motionless – it’s a constantly shifting and evolving. Pre-pandemic, many businesses were already grappling with changing behaviours around the subscription economy and the heightened – almost cutthroat – customer expectations associated with this modern consumer model. Consumers now seek services over products, and the ease and speed at which customers can change providers means the experience any single brand affords its customers is now its key competitive advantage.

Disruption has spurred innovation

Global disruption over the last 18 months brought this customer experience (CX) challenge into stark focus. During the early stages of the pandemic, many firms found themselves scrambling left, right and centre to plug holes in their go-to-market strategies that no one knew were there. At the same time, consumer behaviours and expectations shifted permanently, thanks to real-life disruptions that forced them to migrate to digital channels to interact with brands on a day-to-day basis.

Times of crisis and disruption have always spurred both ingenuity and necessary experimentation – driving suddenly-motivated organisations to work at speed and develop solutions to challenges across multiple fronts simultaneously.

As the last 18 months have demonstrated, it sometimes takes an external threat to jolt the business from its lassitude and on to a war footing that prioritises radical change across multiple fronts. This is what we have seen in the contact centre industry, where – in response to customer behaviour shifts – cutting edge cloud technology has been implemented rapidly and at scale to enable contact centres to cope with unprecedented volumes of demand. Organisations have since used Contact Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solutions to manage everything from workforce performance and wellbeing, to delivering support and training tailored exactly to the real-time needs of individual agents.

From service to engagement

Businesses have been forced to refocus CX on digital and self-service and rethink what customer care actually means. What’s more, many of the tools, technologies and techniques that enabled the sector to navigate the last 18 months have put the contact centre on a course of continuing innovation and disruption for the decade ahead.

With consumer behaviour irrevocably changed by recent events, the ways in which businesses use technology to improve customer interactions and brand relationships from now on will prove pivotal for commercial and reputational survival in a new consumer landscape of fragile loyalty and easy switching. 

The remote and hybrid models implemented in 2020 will also determine how organisations resource contact centre operations in the future. This will usher in an era of more choice and flexible working options for agents, together with greater operational agility needed to cope with evolving market demands and changing consumer behaviour.

The last 18 months have presented contact centres with an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate Digital Transformation and completely redefine their ability to deliver on changing customer expectations. In the coming years, they will continue to evolve into value-driven customer engagement hubs capable of orchestrating an end-to-end and intuitive customer experience in every channel.

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