In a post-pandemic world, consumers have undergone an inadvertent shift in mindset and expectations surrounding customer experience (CX). The pandemic created a new normal born out of necessity — a normal in which human interaction came to a screeching halt and alternative methods for communication and, more specifically, customer service, became a requirement.
Today’s consumer, as a result, finds great benefit in a hybrid customer experience that combines the spark of human communication and the convenience of sophisticated digital assistance. In order to keep up with increasing consumer expectations, companies need to invest in a modern customer relationship management (CRM) tool that offers both human support and AI technology to provide a personalized hybrid customer experience.
Kustomer has conducted extensive research exploring trends in customer experience. In this blog, we’ll dive into trends in customer experience expectations, how to apply a hybrid CX strategy to your customer service operations, and the power of delivering a highly personalized customer journey.
Customer Experience Expectations
Impacted by the fallout from the global pandemic and the rise of things like “skimpflation,” predictions are honing in on the growing importance of empathy in customer service.. With millions struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table, Forrester is projecting a significant shift toward an empathetic CX strategy that values the customer’s time and unique experiences.
One of the most important methods is meeting consumers where they are most comfortable and in the channels they are already using to communicate. Forrester predicts a 40% spike in virtual customer support cases in the coming year, and businesses will need to be able to accommodate a variety of support options. In fact, companies are preparing now for this major shift in virtual support:
- 52% of organizations are preparing to be able to service customers via live video over the next three years
- 43% of organizations are preparing to be able to service customers via virtual assistants (like Alexa or Siri) over the next three years
- 26% of organizations are preparing to be able to service customers via virtual reality over the next three years
A hybrid customer experience model is, in its own way, empathetic to the modern customer: being available wherever and whenever they prefer to interact with your brand. This accessibility is no longer a special feature, but rather an expectation for today’s customer; 87% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact retail customer service on their preferred channel.
Bad customer support experience can break a relationship with a customer and impact future relationships, since 90% of consumers would not shop with a company again if they received poor customer service. The hybrid customer experience model is an ideal method for meeting your customers where they are and providing the personalized experience they’re searching for.
Applying a Hybrid Customer Experience Model
The key to a successful hybrid CX strategy is a seamless integration of service styles that balances the benefits of human and digital. The same responsiveness with which you’ve once managed voice support now has to be applied across the board to increasingly popular channels like SMS, social media and chat. Modern consumers are seeking the convenience of digital support and the compassion of human support, and the hybrid model is the opportunity to provide both. By meeting customers where they are, it gives them the chance to:
- Have their feelings heard and validated
- Experience empathy
- Bring their issues to a convenient solution
Implementing a hybrid CX strategy is only the first step to elevating the entire customer experience that your company delivers. There are important additional steps that can magnify the success of your hybrid customer experience, the first of which is personalized support. Both the human and digital elements of the hybrid model create opportunities to personalize the experience and streamline the process, including:
- Chatbot integrations that save user information for future support cases
- Applying the same customer service agent to each customer for brand consistency
- Using customer (and representative) first names to maintain a friendly, informal relationship
Another important step is to leverage customer feedback. Implementing a hybrid customer experience is an evolutionary process, as consumer expectations and preferences are continuously changing. It’s important to frequently review customer feedback and apply it to your CX strategy, showing customers that their opinions are valued and contribute to the larger brand.
By collecting and managing customer surveys, reviews, interviews and even social media polls, you can optimize all touchpoints and customer service platforms regularly.
Take Personalized Support to the Next Level
The quality and versatility of your customer service can make or break your relationships with current and prospective customers. The best way to be proactive about fostering these essential relationships is to meet them where they are with a hybrid customer experience model that blends the human touch with digital personalization.
To learn more about the power of scalable personalization, download Kustomer’s guide to Delivering Data-Driven Personalized Support at Scale.