Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Every year, several research reports, articles and expert views emerge in global forums, that if studied thoroughly with a critical mind can shed light on some aspects of the future. Interestingly, many trends and forecasts linger on year after year. Leadership strategy specialist, Shep Hyken has made ten business forecasts for the coming year. Paying heed to these predictions can give companies a head start in 2021 and help them to gain a competitive edge.

  1. Customers will keep getting smarter

The digital playground is a democratic front and customers have been learning quickly. After the pandemic pushed customers worldwide to adapt to online channels, their expectations have risen substantially.

They no longer compare an experience or service with its competition but with the best experience they had with any service provider. Companies that lag in these aspects will lose customers. This smarter breed of customers will be far less tolerant of service failures and better customer experience will overtake price and also product in determining a purchase.

  1. The “Now Customer” trend will grow stronger

With technological advancement and increased digital adoption, customer service has undergone a sea of change. Stores have measures in place so that the ques don’t get long and online deliveries are done in as less as 2 hours. Today’s customers have gotten used to get everything in the now and if that expectation is not met, they get impatient.

A recent customer survey by Forbes, found that 96.2% of customers were ready to leave a company or brand due to bad customer service. In the initial days of the pandemic, customers were more patient as they understood the massive disruptions but as soon as thing got back to new normal, their impatience has reached earlier levels. The “Now Customer” with zero tolerance to waiting, will stay in the long term and companies that want to be successful must take measures to speed up their service.

  1. Convenience will become mandatory

2020 Achieving Customer Survey by Ford found that 67% customers would be happy to pay more if higher level of convenience was guaranteed, and the number rises to 90% if delivery is included in the convenience. These findings clearly indicate that customer convenience is no longer optional or differentiating factor but a necessary element, almost mandatory for business success.

This becomes more important in the current times, when companies have already implemented several convenience strategies to meet customer requirements during Covid-19. And once customers have experienced these conveniences there is no option of a roll back.

  1. Remote and hybrid work model is here to stay

Covid-19 has broken the biases against remote work by forcing business of all natures and statures to work from home model. As a result, globally companies have had a firsthand experience of the advantages and drawbacks of remote and hybrid work model. Since the cost implications of virtual work is massive and productivity is consistent, it is expected that remote and hybrid work model will become a part of the next normal. Of course, companies will not shift to a 100% remote work module but a phenomenal transformation of the ways of working is in the offing.

  1. Companies will try to digitize and automate experience further

Deploying automation in customer experience is a win-win for all businesses. With technology, there remains little margin of error and hence, it is a lucrative proposition. Companies can ensure a smoother, faster and apt customer experience with automation and digitization, but the problem is, customers are humans, who more often than not react differently. That being said, it cannot be denied that the world witnessed a fast-tracked adoption of technology due to the pandemic, and so in the coming year companies would definitely increase automation initiatives and then gradually reach the human-tech balance.

To read the next five business forecasts, head over to the second part of the article

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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