Article

How to embrace new behaviors in 2021

2020 brought on a seismic shift in consumer trends, but many industries are adapting.

By Martha Castro

Published February 12, 2021
Last updated February 12, 2021

Last year changed consumer behaviors and sped up businesses’ transition into a digital-first world. Stuck at home, consumers increasingly turned to online solutions—think: digital banking, on-demand food and grocery delivery apps, online shopping, telehealth, and more.

Businesses had to up their game. Flexible and personalized digital customer experiences became more important than ever before. According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report 2021, 65 percent of customers want to buy from companies that offer quick and easy online transactions. Seventy-five percent of customers are willing to spend more to buy from companies that give them a good customer experience.

Messaging has been key to strong customer support during the pandemic. It has also grown faster than any other support channel, with social messaging popularity increasing by 110 percent year-over-year. This is likely because messaging is convenient and personalized, where an interaction can easily be handled while working from home or even walking the dog.

Many consumer habits developed during the pandemic have staying power. The wholesale shift online has encouraged consumers to try new products and experiences. Thirty-one percent of customers bought from a new company last year, and 84 percent of them plan to keep buying from those businesses. Sixty-four percent of customers used a new support channel last year, and 80 percent plan to keep using it.

While these new trends are likely permanent, there’s many things you can do to keep up. Take this as an opportunity to embrace change and create great customer experiences. Learn more about how CX has changed in your industry and how your business can successfully adapt.

Jump to:

  1. Financial Services
  2. Retail
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Healthcare
  5. Technology
  6. Media and Entertainment

Financial Services

New trends

While this industry has been slow to adapt to new tech trends in the past, COVID-19 pushed financial services companies to increase their digital scope. This meant adopting contactless payment options and shifting to accommodate remote workforces.

Financial services companies have also experienced an increase in inquiries across support channels. Unable to visit physical locations, clients look to financial institutions to answer their questions remotely during uncertain times.

Here’s what you can do

1. Adopt conversational messaging

In 2020, most financial services companies were looking for new ways to engage with customers. In 2021, the solution is clear: increase client convenience with conversational messaging.

Of financial services companies that added a new CX channel last year, 40 percent mentioned social messaging apps like WhatsApp. Twenty-eight percent mentioned SMS messaging.

Your clients want to interact with you the same way they interact with people in their day-to-day lives, or other consumer brands. Use messaging to manage an influx of inquiries while providing personalized support to your customers, wherever they are. There are easy options to add messaging to your customer experience, whether that’s by integrating live chat or social messaging on your website and/or mobile app.

2. Unify agent workspaces

As your workforce becomes increasingly remote, empower agents to deliver excellent customer support by giving them full customer context in one unified place. Context allows agents to better manage conversations based on past interactions. This will build stronger one-to-one relationships with clients.

Retail

New trends

While retailers have long had to weather economic downturns, this past year had retailers scrambling to pivot almost overnight.

E-commerce sales jumped 30 percent during the pandemic and most customers expect to continue online shopping. Among the new consumer behaviors, more customers chose to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS)—or to utilize delivery apps and services. In fact, BOPIS options grew by 28 percent, and grocery delivery went up by 57 percent. These shifts require coordination and streamlined communication on the back end, and with customers.

Here's what you can do

1. Use messaging to be where your shoppers are

After the onset of the pandemic, Zendesk saw a 148 percent increase in customers using WhatsApp for support globally, and a 26 percent increase in SMS support use. This speaks to the popularity of social messaging and the ease through which you can reach customers on channels they regularly use. Messaging offers a quick way to update customers when in-demand items are available or proactively inform customers about store safety measures, helping to increase trust in your brand.

2. Get to know your (new) customers

With so many consumers trying new brands, you’ve likely grown your online customer base. But to keep them, it’s vital to leverage customer data to know who your customers are and what they’re looking for. Investing in data analytics allows you to stay on top of emerging trends and deliver great customer experiences. Supplement your support data by connecting it with buyer data from internal and third-party systems such as e-commerce software, OMS, and social media so that your developers and admins can build the most optimal digital customer experiences.

Manufacturing

New trends

Product demand has been volatile during the pandemic. While manufacturers have seen surges in orders of essential items, they’ve also experienced drops in demand for non-essential goods. This has caused a disruption in both production and supply chains.

Brand loyalty has become increasingly important to manufacturing companies. With the industry’s ups and downs, keeping customers loyal is your best guarantee of long-term success.

Here's what you can do

1. Empower field service agents

Now more than ever, your customers and field agents want to solve issues remotely. Use IOT connectivity to pull information from your clients’ smart devices and remotely diagnose any issues.

Improve data in support platforms to give agents the context they need to solve inquiries quickly and deliver personalized customer experiences. It’s important to give agents a holistic view of the customer. This can include shipping status, registered products, warranties, and status of connected devices.

2. Enable proactive support

Another benefit of IOT connectivity is that support agents can see when devices will fail in advance. Agents can track diagnostics, proactively start tickets based on device data, and pull equipment before it breaks. This will save you money and help you solve issues before they become a big concern for your customers.

Healthcare

New trends

Social distancing forced many clinics to limit in-person visits. Healthcare providers must now offer remote treatment using digital solutions. In fact, 50 percent of patients are receiving treatment at home instead of visiting medical offices. Many healthcare providers plan to continue offering virtual services while protecting patient data.

The demand for med device and medtech companies has increased as clinics require new technology to treat customers remotely. They’re also facing supply chain issues and an influx of customer inquiries considering that 44 percent of patients began using new medical devices or applications during the pandemic.

Here's what you can do

1. Connect with patients through messaging

Social messaging enables patients to easily access healthcare support from a distance. WhatsApp and chatbots can streamline patient screening, handoff complete customer context to agents and offer more efficient digital services.

2. Build an integrated help center

An integrated help center helps both agents and customers access all the information they need. Robust help centers also reduce resolution time. For example, pharmaceutical and biotech software provider Veeva uses an AI-powered bot to suggest relevant articles to customers based on their questions. The bot is able to resolve five percent of conversations without human intervention.

Technology

New trends

Most industries had to adopt new digital solutions, increasing the demand for tech products and services. Many businesses have increased their tech spending to manage a surge in customer inquiries, as well as to support remote employees.

Here's what you can do

1. Manage demand using messaging

Tech companies are adopting messaging to better handle the influx of customer inquiries and purchases. Messaging channels allow your company to more easily control ticket volumes, reduce the need for phone support, and lower costs.

2. Expand your help centers

Make it your goal to establish a comprehensive help center. This will help you scale your customer support and assist your clients when and where it’s most convenient for them. A strong help center will empower your customers to solve their issues without the need for an agent.

Media and Entertainment

New trends

This industry faced a mix of challenges. Live entertainment took a hit since safety measures prohibited social gatherings. Meanwhile, online entertainment surged.

Audiences are now faced with many choices for digital content. With stark market competition, differentiating the customer experience is a must to keep customers loyal.

Here's what you can do

1. Encourage self-service

Self-service allows your customers to efficiently solve problems without the need for an agent. This will lower your support costs and make an influx in inquiries more manageable. For example, Discord, a platform for gamers around the globe, saw its demand skyrocket during COVID-19. The company’s use of self-service features, such as help centers, community forums, and an AI-powered bot made it easy to handle volume that nearly doubled between February and March of 2020.

2. Add options for messaging

Sixty-four percent of media companies tried new channels last year. In 2021, messaging has become the most popular solution. In fact, of those media companies that added new channels last year, 36 percent adopted social media messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

Messaging allows customers to contact you through social media platforms they already use. They should also be able to contact support within your web or mobile apps. This way, you can proactively keep customers informed on incoming service interruptions through notifications in messaging channels. Messaging increases brand loyalty by making your platform easier and more enjoyable to use.

Wondering where to start?

Keeping up with new CX trends while adapting your business to a new reality can be stressful. But don’t worry—we’re here to help. The Zendesk Suite gives you all the tools you need to provide great customer service, even remotely.