Where 2020 was, for many businesses, characterised by doing what needed to be done to survive, that approach needs to be reassessed in 2021. While the landscape is still constantly shifting, businesses are going to need to take a step beyond survival and into a growth mindset.
The idea that businesses can try and ‘wait out’ the pandemic has been shown to be short-sighted. With a UK wide lockdown stretching across the opening months of the year, consumers will continue to predominantly work, shop and relax online and from home this year. Restrictions will, in time, be lifted but consumers will not be willing to give up on the convenience brought about by digital experiences and brands will need to maintain a laser focus on digital customer experiences.
Whatever the ‘new normal’ brings, digitalisation will only become more prominent.
For some teams this process will necessarily require looking at the technology that they are relying on and identifying which areas need attention. As the customer experience has grown more complex, companies have brought in a patchwork of technologies stitched together from different sources. While those systems may be supporting work as it is happening today, the solutions which have been created as a stopgap will hold companies back, slowing them down as they move to more permanent flexible working strategies. Refinements need to be made now to allow for a period of growth in 2021 when circumstances finally allow.
The lessons learnt from 2020 about engaging customers through fewer digital channels will need to evolve in 2021, and a key change for marketers will be working more closely with sales and customer experience teams. Customers are becoming more demanding when it comes to their digital experiences with brands, not least because they have fewer touch-points, so they expect a high quality and innovative experience regardless of whether that is marketing or sales-led or whether it is part of their after sales care.
A customer, after all, wants a seamless experience with a brand, regardless of which team they’re engaging with. If they haven’t already, it’s become critical for brands to break down internal silos and think first and foremost about the customer. Now is an important time to ensure teams are sharing lessons learned over the past 12 months to pool the fullest picture of how customer needs have changed at each point of the flywheel so they can be addressed head-on in future.
All teams that have a customer touch-point need to be working together to support each other. Having siloed data pools for customers has become more than an operational inefficiency; with so many brands putting digital experiences first, poor customer experience becomes a real barrier to sales and in return, to hard-fought sales targets. 58% of UK sales representatives struggled to reach their sales targets by the end of last year and 64% reported the lack of face-to-face contact made it more difficult. Closer and frictionless cooperation between teams is one of the key enablers of better performance in 2021.
Moving to growth this year will require companies to really show that they understand their customers and can go above and beyond, not just delivering a seamless experience but also a memorable one. To do this, businesses will need to ensure that all of their teams are working from a single source of ‘truth’ on a customer, with full visibility of any issues that customer may have faced in order for a swift resolution and where the relationship is good. To drive this scale and growth without increasing complexity companies need a robust CRM platform which can manage the process and empower teams to focus on delighting the customer. The post-survival approach has to focus on creating a remarkable customer experience that draws people in and becomes a competitive asset. That requires new ways of working and engaging with customers which are flexible and robust enough to handle whatever 2021 throws our way, from lockdowns through to the re-opening of the country as vaccines are rolled-out across the nation and everything in between.
Harnessing the collective power of a brand’s marketing, sales and customer experience functions has to be a priority for the year ahead. In fact, a business’ growth depends on it.
As part of our Predictions event taking place 25 - 29 Jan, HubSpot shared the keys to collaboration and their tips on the technologies needed to create exceptional experiences. You can watch the presentation here.