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Study Finds the Post-pandemic Customer Experience is Evolving

Research firm predicts the use of artificial intelligence and other tools to increase

DENVER — Many companies, ranging from small businesses like dry cleaners to large corporations, have been forced to change the way they communicate with and service customers. While some of these measures were ultimately temporary, other practices demonstrated significant value to both the customer and provider and are likely to stay.

This was the finding of a recently released whitepaper prepared by Dash Research that studied the effect of the pandemic on the customer experience (CX).

“The most impactful trends that emerged in 2021 were both interrelated and interdependent, reflecting the interconnected worlds of digital engagement, physical fulfillment, and health and safety issues,” says principal analyst Keith Kirkpatrick, principal analyst for Dash Research. “While many of these trends began during 2020, they were often accelerated by various economic and public health conditions that arose in 2021, including labor shortages, supply chain issues, and an increased focus on digital/real-world customer journeys.”

These market factors have led to many businesses using forms of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. This was seen the most in business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations deploying AI-enabled chatbots and tools to handle routine tasks, freeing up workers to address more complex issues. Automated marketing and messaging took center stage as businesses leveraged technology to maximize sales, marketing, and services efficiency, and the use of technology extended to CX functions, such as customer contact centers. 

Looking ahead to 2022, as some industries strive for a return to normal, such as travel & hospitality, retail, and healthcare, Dash Research says that it expects to see greater investment in CX platforms and programs that support customers throughout the entire journey.

Personalization will continue to be used as a differentiator, the firm says, not only for B2C businesses but also for business-to-business (B2B) companies that are trying to deliver a right-sized offering for each customer. Greater visibility into supply chains may be a differentiator for some companies, particularly if bottlenecks remain.

Dash Research also believes that improvements to CX through mobile, social and other non-traditional channels will be brought to the forefront as omnichannel approaches mature. Large customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platform (CDP) vendors will continue to add new features and functions that make it easier for companies of all types to add AI and automation across all functional areas. And, despite the push to incorporate technology, businesses will focus on balancing human agents and automation to build a better rapport with customers.