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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To read the first five business forecasts we shared in the first part of this article, click here.

The first instalment of the 10 business forecasts offered five predictions, centered around customer experience and service, evolution of customer expectations, remote work and increasing focus on automation and digitization. Leadership strategy specialist Shep Hyken lists the next 5 business forecasts with an emphasis on the recent changes that emerged in the post pandemic world.

  1. Empathy will be the defining word for 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has made customers comfortable with self-service. After months of being compelled to shop online through intuitive and simplified digital sales portals, customers are comfortable with digital buying experiences. Despite that, during the pandemic, companies experienced a surge in customer calls who wanted to speak with an executive.

Thus, it is surmised that customers are craving a human touch – an interaction with another person who cares and guides their purchases. In 2021, empathy is expected to be at the core of successful inter-human interaction. Customers need that personal touch to help them make a decision or solve a problem and employees need empathy to reassure them about the future as they continue working remotely isolated and anxious.

  1. Chatbots will move past customer communication

Companies usually deploy chatbots to address basic customer queries. Banks use chatbots to help people know their account balance, online portals use chatbots to help customers track the delivery status of a package, etc. While chatbots will continue doing that and get better, in 2021, they will also be the initiation point for process automation. Chatbots would be able to automate escalation to a human executive and thus evolve from only a communication tool to an automation tool.

  1. Digital personalization will get more personal

In order to enhance customer experience and boost personalization, companies are increasingly deploying advanced CRMs and AI integrate. In the fast-evolving digital eco-system, customers expect companies to know their choices and display products and services accordingly – it helps them to feel a connection with the brand, although at a digital level.

Companies would like to capitalize this trend by enhancing their AI capabilities which will also offer better prediction of customer needs by analyzing customers’ previous purchases and requirements. Embraced by medium and smaller businesses, AI technology will become more mainstream due to its advantages and now affordable pricing.

  1. Companies will go overboard with automation and digitization

This prediction is in equal measures also a warning. As soon as companies will incorporate automation and digitization to enhance automated customer conversations, they will receive wonderful results. This might make companies over zealously going overboard in using such technologies. Companies that fall into this trap will risk losing a human contact with the customers, which might hamper customer loyalty.

Smart companies that can avoid this trap by creating the right balance, complementing automated experience with inter-human contact will emerge as winners in the future.

  1. Predictive service capabilities of businesses will increase

This might resonate with the previous forecast as it has everything to do with digitization and automation. All these technologies are being voraciously deployed by businesses to optimize business. This trend will enhance the capabilities of companies to predict a problem even before the customer is aware of the problem.

With automated alarm and messaging systems in place customers can be informed about a delay in delivery or intimation about downtime in an essential service. Such predictive service can enhance customer delight substantially. However, when implementing such processes companies must thoroughly examine its future impact on both employees and customers.

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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