2021 Trends – Forecasting the Return to “Normal”

There have been so many buzzwords that describe the economy during the pandemic. Words like uncertain, uncharted, chaotic, and “the new normal,” are floating around, but what does the post-pandemic “normal” look like and how will that affect CX? Let’s start by taking a look at some of the data before COVID-19 landed in the US.

By all accounts, the US economy was booming in the months leading up to the pandemic. Unemployment was at an historically low 3.5% in February. The Dow, S&P, and the Nasdaq were enjoying record highs in addition to highs in consumer spending. So how did this robust economy translate into a company’s customer experience? Zip, zilch, nada. CX scores remained stagnant across all industries. As we noted in our 2020 CX Trends, “there’s simply no excuse for A+ brands to continue getting C- scores.” Part of this lack of CX growth could be attributed to companies churning out decent, inexpensive products and services, which consumers flocked to in record numbers. Business was good, so if CX ain’t broke, why fix it?

March of 2020 brought forth the great CX equalizer to companies. The economic numbers are indescribable, so here’s a brief look (all figures from the Congressional Budget Office – cob.gov):

  • Unemployment rose to 14.7% in April
  • Consumer spending down 17% in April
  • GDP down nearly 38% versus annual rate
  • Record 2,997 point drop on the Dow (March 16th)

Yikes. Again, we turn to CX scores to see what impact this economic plunge had on the contact center. Not surprisingly, according to Forrester’s US 2020 Consumer Experience Index, 27% of brands improved their CX scores over the past year. Forrester notes that factors to this increase included “CX professionals…designing experiences that emotionally resonate with customers.” Or if we simplify it, consumers weren’t spending as much, so companies needed to focus on CX to differentiate themselves from the competition.

So what happens after we have a vaccine and it’s back to business as usual? It’s difficult to know for sure because it depends on how consumers react to a wide open economy. Will people shy away from physical stores in favor of e-commerce? How will spending habits change once jobs come back to pre-pandemic levels? We’d like to think that businesses will invest heavily in cloud-based contact center solutions and other technology like AI.

Keep up with the hottest trends in CX. Check out Bright Pattern’s full guide “2021 Customer Experience Trends: The ABCs of the Post Pandemic Contact Center

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2021 Customer Experience Trends: The ABCs of the Post Pandemic Contact Center

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