After a wild 2020, many companies are looking forward to 2021 and hoping to proactively engage with customers instead of reactively building or changing programs and services.
But just because 2021 is a new year doesn’t mean 2020 is gone and forgotten. The global pandemic and unrest of the year will stick with customers for the long term and greatly influence how they interact with companies going forward. With more virtual events and interactions than ever before, customers want human connection.
The 2021 Deloitte Global Marketing Trends Report highlights seven trends shaping customer experience and business growth in 2021: Purpose, Agility, Trust, Talent, Participation, Fusion and Human Experience. Understanding these trends can help brands drive connection and engagement.
Although each trend is unique and stands on its own, Deloitte CMO Suzanne Kounkel says the trends also work together to support and influence each other. A company that has built strong trust will also likely have a strong sense of participation, for example, while a company lacking in trust likely won’t have as strong of customer participation or human experience.
Of the seven trends, Kounkel says the most important may be purpose and agility. If a company or brand isn’t grounded in a purpose, it’s hard to land any of the other trends. Customers want to see the purpose of a brand and feel trust in an organization. It’s no longer just about making a purchase or doing business—it’s about building real connections with a brand, participating and believing in its greater purpose.
Kounkel says that in a roller coaster year like 2020, it’s important for companies to have purpose as their guiding course. People need to understand why things are being done because how they are being done is changing so quickly. The purpose keeps employees, customers and organizations moving steadily towards a goal or vision, even with the turbulences of chaos and uncertainty.
An organization’s purpose has to start at the top. Kounkel believes most organizations have a purpose, but many companies fall flat because their purpose isn’t embedded or understood in a way that helps the company move forward. She recommends organizations and leaders perform a soul-searching exercise to determine their purpose. Be pragmatic and dogmatic, but do it quickly, because customers expect companies to have strong purposes that resonate in everything they do.
Agility is also a powerful trend going into 2021. The year 2020 showed just how crucial agility is as companies were forced to pivot quickly with little warning. COVID has changed customer expectations, and consumers now expect brands to be more agile than ever before. Now, as we work through the pandemic, brands are starting to get back to doing what they want to do. For months we spent time doing what we had to do, but the agility now in place gives brands more freedom to get back to what they and their customers actually want to do.
A new year brings a new slate. Customers want more connection than ever, and companies that tap into these seven trends can make that happen. Start with a sense of purpose and build those strong connections that will last into the future.
Blake Morgan is the bestselling author of The Customer of the Future. Sign up for her new course here.
For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.