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4 Trends CMO’s And CXO’s Need To Know For 2021

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Matt Wujciak

Consumption today is a phenomenon. With the frequent click of a button, many consumers spend what they shouldn’t. Many buy products from brands that tap into the reward-center of their brain. Many only buy products out of necessity. Some just simply like the process or customer experience that leads to instant gratification. At the end of the day, it’s about using the resources an organization has to make the customer the hero of their own story. 

1) Demonstrating brand purpose may lead to long-term growth

As nearly 60% of consumers now care more about customer experience when deciding which brands to purchase from, the modern customer will no longer tolerate seemingly trivial mistakes, such as a few extra minutes waiting on hold, check out processes that require slightly more customer effort, or a lack of personalization in sales pitches or product promotions (as you’ll see in CCW Digital’s upcoming Market Study, Future Of The Contact Center: A Forecast). Roughly 65% of consumers will now switch to a competitor after just 1-2 poor experiences and 88% will now switch to a competitor after 1-3 poor experiences.

Consumer behavior has undoubtedly changed drastically in a short period of time, influencing expectations, what consumers deem valuable, and ultimately, purchasing decisions. But it’s important for CMO’s and CXO’s to identify where in the consumer journey customers are won or lost. 

Now more than ever, one primary influence is the demonstration of brand purpose.  Nearly one-third are now less trustful of brands. In an era when consumer trust in brands, media, advertising, and political agendas become more skeptical, consumers will continue to become increasingly conscientious, seeking brands with a purpose that aligns with their values. 

For example, during the first months of the pandemic, some financial institutions paused overdraft fees and deferred loan payments, while shoe companies donated thousands of pairs of shoes to health care workers. Many brands realized this early on. 

In March, Nike dropped the subscription fee for its Nike Training Club Premium service. Hyundai and Toyota quickly edited planned ads to show support for both employees and customers. Ford and Guinness received positive feedback from their ads that mentioned the coronavirus before competitors did. Meanwhile, Coors and KFC canceled campaigns that were suddenly deemed out of step with the current public mood. These changes come as 43% of people surveyed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies said they wanted to see messaging that was reassuring from trusted brands.

Customers are taking note: Nearly one in four respondents to Deloitte’s survey say such actions have improved their perceptions of a brand, and one in five say they have changed their buying preferences in favor of a brand that demonstrates the brand’s values. 

As the research illustrates, companies that prioritize purpose during challenging times will be uniquely positioned for long-term growth moving forward.

2) Consumers are willing to pay more for ethical brands

“Marketing used to be about making a myth and telling it. Now it’s about telling a truth and sharing it.” - Marc Matthieu, Strategic Customer Transformation and Innovation at Salesforce.

Brands that don’t deliver on their promises can see an erosion of stakeholder trust—and, eventually, a hit to the bottom line. Among consumers Deloitte surveyed, 66% recall a time when a business acted in its own interest—by raising prices on essential items, for example—and one in four respondents strongly agree that such actions caused them to walk away from the company in question. By segmenting customers based on values rather than more quantitative factors such as demographics, marketers can build stronger relationships and more effectively impact customer behavior.

Read More: The Era Of The Conscientous Consumer

Jerry Greenfield Co-Founder of Ben & Jerry’s summed up his brand’s marketable and socially ethical mission in a candid story of their foundation at our live event series Customer Contact Week back in January - before the pandemic took place (and brands were put under the consumer microscope).

“We’re going to grow our business. We want to do it in a way that’s consistent with our values… Normally public offerings are reserved for simple [yet] sophisticated investments that have several [hundred] thousand dollars but that’s not what we were looking for. We were looking for our neighbors... At the end of the offering… we raised 750 thousand dollars. One out of every 100 families in Vermont had become owners of Ben and Jerry’s.” 

“We [then] established the Ben & Jerry’s foundation which would receive seven and a half percent of the company’s pre-tax profits and that was the highest percentage of any publicly owned company. The corporate average is around one and a half percent. And the reason we chose such a high percentage was that our feeling at the time was that a business is essentially a machine for making money so that if we want to be as much benefit to the community as possible, we should give away as much money as possible… And in no time at all the foundation was overwhelmed with brand requests from non-profit organizations”... and customers.

There’s power in ethical genuity, now more than ever. Says who? The modern consumer. 

The challenging times brought about by the pandemic have highlighted ethical concerns for consumers, and marketable opportunities for brands, many of which (such as Ben & Jerry’s) had already identified. The Future Consumer Index by EY found that 23% of consumers will pay more for ethical brands as they are paying greater attention to their consumption choices and the impact they have on the world, and 34% of consumers would pay more for local products, as the Ben & Jerry’s Vermont case shows. 

3) Talent in the new workplace is a top challenge

Over the past few years, the role of customer experience in organizations has undoubtedly undergone a colossal shift, with the emergence of chief experience or chief customer officers fielding responsibility for everything from customer service to digital marketing. Over the past few months, talent models across industries have shifted in what would normally take five to six years, as technologies such as AI have become increasingly advanced and as more people work in the gig economy rather than in traditional 9-to-5 on-site jobs. 

As you’ll see in CCW Digital’s upcoming Market Study, only 7% of companies anticipate returning to a “traditional” contact center model. (Of course, the concept extends across industries). Most will rely on remote work or other hybrid, distributed models, which will prove to be a catalyst for the customer experience world. Yet, 5 key work-from-home challenges include connectivity issues, mental well-being, “Zoom fatigue,” employee training and development, and peer communication.

CMO’s and CXO’s can create a competitive advantage by incorporating three talent-related shifts into their strategy: leveraging contract workers for more tactical roles, upskilling employees through in-house CX training, and arguably most importantly, investing in new cloud technologies and applications to increase employee efficiency. 

As Jim Roth, Executive VP, Customer Support at Salesforce recently told me:

“What we’ve seen in the pandemic is we need flexibility to deliver the applications and desktop for the agent to anywhere on very short notice.” 

“There’s been enormous investment over the last five years in cloud applications, and BPN [Business Process Network], and higher specifications on laptops, and really getting ready for this work-from-home moment… To the extent that you have your application stack clean and modernized, it’s actually pretty easy.” 

4) The contact center will serve as data hub for marketing and sales

Cloud technology, automation, and AI rising to prominence as a major objective for CXO’s and CMO’s is no secret. Eighty-five percent (85%) claim automation use will be a more important objective moving forward, putting it just below digital engagement as the #2 priority, according to Future Of The Contact Center: A Forecast. Other surging considerations include customer satisfaction (81%), collecting and actionable customer feedback and insights (78%), and customer loyalty (73%). 

Read More: Special Report Series: Generating Revenue In The Contact Center - Where Marketing, Sales, And Customer Data Align (Sponsored By Salesforce)

Each speaks to the growing recognition of the value the contact center can provide to the overall business. They also speak to the importance of making customer centricity the driving force behind executive decisions, whether through analyzing interactions, which channels consumers are preferring, or better general data aggregation on customer profiles. Recognizing changes in consumer behavior becomes even more important when it’s occurring more frequently. 

For example, a customer who has contacted a tech company for the third time trying to resolve a performance issue might react positively to an offer for 50% off the newer model, plus access to upgraded service for one year. Likewise, a mother calling into a clothing company to ask if she can replace a dress coat she ordered for her son with a larger size so he’ll have it in time for the school play might want to hear about a music- themed tie - or respond positively to an offer for an annual reminder that her growing son might be ready for a larger jacket. AI tools in the contact center can suggest these options to the agent, who can then turn a potentially painful situation into a profit for the company.

Cross-functional AI tools used by the contact center can also help marketing and sales track what customers do after a purchase, by tracking not just proprietary data but their online life in general. Did they tweet about their new product or service? Did they look for support from your self-help website? Did they search your store for accessories or related products? A good AI solution will alert customers to new offerings or specials based on their reaction to the goods and services they already own, sometimes suggesting special deals based on their style, clout, or history with the organization.

Chief Experience Officers and Chief Marketing Officers need to pay special attention to the consumer behavior and employee experience trends that always existed, but were rapidly expedited.