More than half of customer experience (CX) agents in the UK (54%) say they do not have the right tools to work from home, according to a new global report. This comes despite half of customers stating that the customer experience is more important to them now, than one year ago.

New data released today by Zendesk’s  Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report 2021 shows that customer experience is increasingly crucial to business success. In fact, the research found that the most successful companies are adopting new technology at record speed. Among tech decision makers in the UK, 78% say COVID-19 sped up technology adoption at their companies, whilst 22% say it’s accelerated by 4-7 years.

Further highlighting the acceleration of technology, a Gartner survey conducted in 2020 found that 91% of organisations said that CX was one of, or the primary goal of, their digital business transformation efforts.

“Against the backdrop of rapid change in the past year, both B2B and B2C companies have been forced to adopt a more consumer-friendly approach, often re-engineering core parts of the business in a short time frame,” said Peter Lorant, EMEA Chief Operating Officer at Zendesk. “While the fundamentals of business largely remain the same, the need to engage with customers in a more dynamic way continues to accelerate. This means investing in the agent experience, training your support teams and better understanding your customers so you can continue to differentiate from your competitors. The bar is only getting higher in 2021.”

From changing behaviours through to adopting new channels and reimagining the workforce, the Zendesk CX Trends Report 2021 gives companies a roadmap to navigate this new CX landscape so they can champion good customer service at every turn.

Top findings include:

Be part of a more conversational world: As customers adopt new behaviours, the soaring popularity of messaging apps opens the door for more streamlined, conversational experiences. Globally, 64% of customers have tried a new way to get in touch with customer service in the last year. For many, that includes using messaging for support requests over apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which spiked significantly during the pandemic with social messaging up 110% year over year.

Realise the power of employee experience: In the UK, nearly half of managers say they don’t have the right analytics tools to measure success for remote teams. In an increasingly distributed world, companies must rethink how they work smarter across teams. Many employees still don’t feel like they have the right tools to succeed in this new and often distributed environment, whether it’s keeping track of their performance indicators, staying connected with their colleagues, or feeling supported by their companies.

Make it easier for customers with a focus on CX: Unprecedented in speed and scale, the recent surge in online channels puts pressure on companies to meet rising expectations as customer experience takes center centre stage. Globally, the vast majority (75%) of customers say they base their purchasing decisions on whether or not a company offers a good customer experience, while 80% will still take their business elsewhere following bad experiences – a figure that remains consistent year over year.

Set teams up for success by emphasising agility: Facing continued volatility, service and support, organisations must find ways to keep up with their customers. Customer experience leaders cited the ability to quickly adapt to the evolving needs of customers as their biggest challenge in 2020 and the highest priority going forward.

Stay ahead of the digital curve: To keep pace with this acceleration, companies need to be prioritising the right tools and technology to invest in the customer. Globally, 44% of tech decision makers agree that they will invest more in CX software by 2023.

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