Let's be frank: no company goes out of its way to produce miserable customer experiences. And yet, they happen. Any strategy a company takes is one it believes will improve customer experience (CX). But often what a company thinks the customer wants is different from what they in fact want.

"Today’s customers want personalized, relevant, and helpful interactions and not the noise that many brands still continue to make," said Jeff Nicholson, global head of CRM at Pegasystems. "Smart brands have implemented strategies that enable optimal one-to-one engagement based on customer context and history to provide the best interactions possible. Brands that are able to quickly resolve customer issues when they arise, regardless of channel, will come out ahead. Even better is when they can pre-emptively predict an issue — like a potential late payment or a recommended change in data plan based on usage — and reach out to the customer before they’re even aware."

So what CX practices are driving your customers away? And which should you double down on?

3 Crowd-Pleasing CX Strategies  

1. Leveraging AI to Support Overwhelmed Contact Centers 

Forrester's report on post-pandemic megatrends found organizations turning to AI and automation to help meet the soaring volume of contact center interactions during the height of the pandemic. By automating repetitive tasks, agents could focus on complex communications requiring empathy. They have also provided supervisors with the insights to best manage their workforces.

For example, conversation analytics metrics showed that contact center agents for many organizations initially weren’t providing the level of empathy that customers desired, giving supervisors the feedback they needed to effectively coach agents to improve this important facet of CX, wrote Forrester analyst Kate Leggett. “Speech and text analytics will monitor and score customer interactions. Quality scores will drive just-in-time coaching on specific subjects to the agent desktop — as well as supervisor intervention for guidance.”

Related Article: Is 2021 the Year AI Dominates the Call Center?

2. Increase in Interactions via Smart Assistants and Wearables

In its Experience 2030 report, SAS found customers increasingly communicating with brands through personal devices such as smart assistants and wearables. One third of today’s consumers “have no problems” using these devices today to make purchases. By 2030, 80% of consumers will be engaging with brands, organizations and governments via smart assistants.

Though actual use of wearables for engagement is somewhat limited today, SAS expects growing engagement with deeper penetration of these devices as well as improved connectivity from the continued evolution of 5G technology.

3. Using Predictive Analytics to Proactively Meet Customer Needs

McKinsey & Co.’s report on the future of CX found a few leading company regularly and legally collecting interaction data from smartphones to obtain customer insights and anticipate behaviors, helping pre-empt any issues in customer journeys. For example, some airlines are providing quick compensation for a flight delay and some insurance companies are providing proactive outreach when a client has a problem.

According to the report, a company needs three things to offer such predictive analytics: 1. A cloud-based, customer-level data lake, which is a foundation for better customer understanding, 2. algorithms based on data showing what influences customer behaviors to generate predictive scores for each customer based on journey features, and 3. an “action and insight engine” that provides information, insights and suggestions via an application-programming-interface (API) layer.

Learning Opportunities

“For example, agents can receive alerts and notifications they should take to personalize customer experiences and improve CX outcomes,” the report stated.

3 CX Strategies Sure to Annoy

1. Frequent, Irrelevant Messages

“Consumers are getting targeted by a lot of brands on a daily basis with offers and ads that in no way enhance their daily lives,” Nicholson said, citing the company’s recent customer service insights report. "Generic offers and slow issue resolution will frustrate customers and potentially cause them to jump to a competitor. Instead, they want to interact with brands on their channel of choice, and resolve service issues quickly without repeating information. Organizations need to build their CX strategies around the customer with journey-centric technology that will ultimately create happier, more loyal customers.”

Related Article: How Many Marketing Emails Is Too Many Marketing Emails?

2. Pop-Up Surveys

Some data gathering methods are too intrusive, with customers ignoring those attempts, said Stephen Light, co-owner and chief marketing officer for Nolah Mattress. He cited a Richman SEO Training survey that found 97% of respondents viewed pop-ups negatively, with the most common terms used in survey comments being “annoying,” “pushy” and “intrusive.”

3. The 'COVID Excuse'

When the pandemic forced many workers to go remote, some businesses to close their brick-and-mortar stores and disrupted supply chains, many companies understandably mentioned this — sometimes even via a recording when a customer contacted the call center — to explain delays and other service issues. But as the economy emerges from the pandemic, the “COVID excuse” is no longer acceptable, said Stacey Epstein, CMO, Freshworks.

Freshworks survey found that one in four consumers (25%) were extra kind during customer service exchanges during the pandemic. However, 27% of consumers said they’re sick of the COVID-19 excuse for bad customer service — and more than half (54%) said they will feel this way once vaccinations are widespread and local lockdowns and regulations are lifted.