For a year now, companies have been strained by the effects of containment, pushing them to accelerate their digital transformation strategy. Until early 2020, more than 30% of VSEs / SMEs were not convinced of the concrete benefits of digital technology for their business. But that has changed a lot. According to one recent Twilio study, the crisis accelerated the digital communication strategy of French companies by 6.7 years. Today, companies accept that most of the actions to come will be digital.
And customer engagement has not escaped this trend. The needs of consumers have gone digital and we have had to respond to them. New digital devices, click and collect, virtual meeting, video … have been adopted to maintain activity and continue to this day. These technological and innovative solutions have been the best allies of companies. It is therefore interesting to ask whether companies could have met the expectations of their customers without this digitization, and if they could have weathered the crisis.
When the crisis changes the level of customer requirements
March 16, 2020 marked a turning point in our lives as well as an upheaval in our approach and our expectations of brands. The constraints of isolation as well as the application of barrier gestures have greatly changed our purchasing methods. And even if digitalization trends were already present before the start of the pandemic, retailers had to further accelerate their rise in these subjects to respond to the challenges of the crisis, but also to customer concerns and demands. Today, the best offer or the lowest price is no longer the sole demand of customers, they seek proximity, trust and exchange with the brands they choose to “consume”. Personalization, transparency, and responsiveness have thus become the watchwords of consumers vis-à-vis companies, and they rely on digital tools to get what they are looking for.
Let us take the example of the retail sector, it had to adapt very quickly to the new needs of the French. Digitization has been a real solution to improving the customer experience. According to a study conducted by Critizr, 39% of brands in fashion and 40% in beauty have set up new collection and / or delivery systems in place, in order to continue to meet the desires of customers, even during periods of time. containment when stores were closed.
Likewise, personalized follow-up solutions have multiplied within the major brands in order to maintain a link with customers by offering them the offer best suited to their needs. Since May 2020, the Galeries Lafayette brand has allowed its customers to keep a direct link with an advisor (or personal shopper), while being at home and physically present at the point of sale. Thanks to its “Exclusive Live” service Shopping ”, Galeries Lafayette offers a unique customer experience.
The emergence of these new facilities offered to customers undoubtedly brings a plus to the shopping experience. These solutions have become a new standard for consumers and have supported them in their new consumption patterns.
Digitize to avoid bankruptcy, a reality
Digital technology has thus imposed itself in all sectors of activity and is becoming more and more present, to the delight of consumers but also of companies, which have been able to take advantage of advanced technologies, and thus avoid major economic losses. . According to a recent study on the impact of digitization on customer engagement, a direct correlation between digitization of customer engagement and business profitability has been proven. 96% of people polled in Europe believed that the lack of digitalization would have hurt their business when the pandemic started. What’s more, 95% of them also said they plan to continue investing in digital customer engagement even when the pandemic is over. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that 5% of companies do not plan to continue investing in digital. It’s hard to imagine their transformation being complete and no longer needing to invest in it.
It is obvious that the digital transformation represents a cost, however it also brings a gain (less loss of parcels, more loyal customers thanks to a personalized follow-up …). Thanks to the various communication channels offered today thanks to this digitization, customer relations and customer engagement have never been so easy. In 2021, it will no longer be possible to neglect the digital transformation of your business, it is no longer a simple option. Already in 2012, this lack of digitization had pushed one of the most powerful brands in its market to go out of business. The leader in photography, Kodak, had to file for bankruptcy, failing to have been able to take the digital turn. Almost 10 years later, this issue will never have made so much sense and a switch of the customer experience towards digital means of communication is essential to create a better engagement and allow, in the end, to shape the success of French companies and to the post-pandemic economy.
What to expect in the future?
While 2020 was one of rapid transformation, the year 2021 will be about pursuing this transformation with determination. The adoption of technological tools within its infrastructure will become a key element allowing companies to offer suitable points of contact. Personalization is not new, but is becoming more and more in demand with AI, which allows large volumes of data to be analyzed to understand the habits and needs of consumers. Turning to technology to deliver on the promise of personalization will be a table issue over the next year or two.
Likewise, it will be obvious to continue using video to build and deepen connections if face-to-face is still impossible for some time to come. Today, 87% of French organizations say they have used video communication with their customers since the start of the pandemic. This figure reflects the place of this tool in the daily life of the French and its necessity. A necessity which constitutes an opportunity for companies to rely on a particularly effective channel of interaction in terms of customer relations. Instantaneous interactions, ease of use, video offers a new dimension to the customer experience by offering an atmosphere almost similar to that of a physical meeting.
By promoting digital transformation to improve their customer engagement, companies will emerge different from this crisis. Disruption can obviously take any form, but organizations that focus on customers by embracing the best of technology will be the most sustainable. More than ever, digital will occupy a central place in the customer experience in 2021. This transformation is the very condition for the success of today’s digital companies. Customer loyalty stems from an experience that is both fluid and simple, and will inevitably have a significant impact on the reputation and sustainability of a company.