How COVID-19 Has Reshaped the Global Customer Engagement Landscape

The dawn to the next normal post the COVID disruption is right here. Every organization needs to know about the emerging communication channels and customer behavior to win over their ideal customer groups.

The year 2020 blew up all the business plans. The pandemic has reshaped the customer communication landscape and has altered worldwide channel usage and preferences. Multichannel communication is the best approach to effectively engage with the target audience groups across borders. To deliver a multichannel customer experience, marketers must manage a matrix of variables for every single interaction. The channel preferences of the marketers might vary; however, the methods for accessing those channels will always be proliferating. Managing interactions is imperative to optimizing the customer satisfaction indexes.

Complexity and urgency range widely and therefore the communication scenarios differ by industry.

Orchestrating phenomenal customer engagement is like competing in the decathlon – it’s a multidisciplinary challenge that can be played over time and across dozens of touchpoints and channels. The combined performance of all the customer interactions sets the foundation of a splendid customer experience.

Here's how the pandemic has accelerated the newer communication channels, accelerated global fermentation in channel preferences, and reward organizations that allow customers to conveniently receive their goods and services remotely.

We hope that these insights will help businesses make informed communication and decisions that are essential for a winning customer experience today and in a post-COVID world. The 2020 pandemic has taught important lessons to marketers including how to be a nimble competitor.

  • The Customers’ Channel Preferences Have Been Diversified

The realm of communication channel usage has gotten fermented since the advent of COVID-19.

During the peak of the pandemic, Brain Niccol, the Chairman & CEO of Chiptole, reported on CNBC that DTC now represents 26% of its revenue as the digital sales have increased by 81% while over 100 of their dine-in locations have closed.

The store sales of the company however surged by 3.3% even amidst the social distancing. Chipotle also disclosed a profit that was better than expected and revealed that it was better positioned for new customer behaviors post-pandemic.

Revenue survival is the key survival strategy right now for the clients who want to quickly and cost-effectively establish a new digital DTC channel and operation. Marketers should keep on comparing their existing channels against those of their peers and understand their customers’ expectations regularly.

According to the Global Customer Engagement Report by Vonage, which surveyed 5,000 customers across 14 countries to establish how likely the businesses are to communicate with each other, the following facts about the customer channel preferences were unveiled:

The research established that with a total of 30% of the total votes, mobile phone calls were customers' favorite way to connect with the businesses. The remaining 70% of the customers preferred a variety of other options. The research also established that one of the biggest setbacks for the customers was when they called a service provider for help and no representative was available to attend to them, and no channels offered them resolution.

  • An Upsurge in the Use of Social Messaging Apps

More and more customers rely on messaging apps as a top-three method for calling businesses, and all the other calling methods (mobile phone, landline, click-to-call from website or app) have lost their grip.

There is also a decline in the number of SMS being sent and in the messaging frequency on social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.

The use of WhatsApp surged and it evolved as the most preferred app to connect with businesses. Also, WhatsApp is the favorite method for calling businesses in Latin America.

  • Videos Gain Precedence as the Customer Communication Media

Videos have been an indispensable part of customer engagement for the past 5 years or so. The rise of videos as a customer communication media was apparent in 2020. The year witnessed an unprecedented increase in the total number of video chats.

The pandemic lead to a decline in the total number of in-person interactions and the voice or text-only conversations weren’t quite adequate for certain services. During the unprecedented times, customers tuned to videos for all kinds of business interactions in far larger numbers than ever witnessed in the past.

According to a survey conducted by the New York Times Magazine, in the month of April 2020, the video chat technology was described as the technology of the pandemic and rated above the telephonic conversations.

The frequency of increase in the adoption of video chat across several geographies in the globe is displayed in the graph below:

(Source: Global Customer Engagement Report by Vonage)

  • Optimizing the Customer Experiences (CX) With Multichannel Communications

On their post-pandemic paths to the next normal businesses and service providers from multiple sectors want to connect with their favorite brands across multiple channels and want to be served with seamless experiences. The marketers need to position themselves to implement multichannel customer engagement strategies so that they are in the best position for victory and to scale-up their revenue goals by ensuring healthier communications with their customers across omnichannel.

The organizations offering phenomenal customer experiences not only provide their customers with multiple channels for communication but also orchestrate the channels to effectively manage the variables of every customer interaction. Also, the context of the customers’ interactions is maintained across multiple touchpoints. 

Wrapping Things Up

There are two biggest hurdles to customers’ engagement and communication which is sort of universal across all the sectors:

- The first communication solecism that bothers the customers is to repeat themselves to different people

- The second gaffe is calls going unanswered

Customer preferences have shifted radically because of the pandemic and customers are easily agitated. Their attention spans and patience levels are also dwindling. Under such a situation the customer service management architecture of the service providers can’t have many loopholes.

The brands not only need to deliver phenomenal customer experiences to a global customer base but also need to collaborate with experts on an organizational level to effectively and timely resolve the customer issues. Organizations can orchestrate multiple customer-communication channels and can reach out to the customers on their favorite channels. Also, the use of the latest MarTech tools allows marketers to create and address more complex issues about the customers to deduce the intricate data-driven insights.