Top 5 Customer Experience Trends for 2021

Andrea Palten – Inbenta

About this episode

2020 was a doozy and we learned a lot!
In this podcast episode we will go over how you can improve your customer service in 2021.

We’ll discuss:
– A remote customer service workforce,
– Improved interactions thanks to artificial intelligence,
– Omnichannel and seamless communication,
– Hyper-personalization,
– Increased focus on data security and privacy.

Interview Transcript

Welcome to the Future of Customer Service Podcast.
Welcome to the Future of Customer Service Podcast. I’m Andrea Palten from Inbenta and I will be interviewing customer support and service professionals to see what is currently working well, what issues they’re trying to overcome, and the future success of customer service.

Hello, I’m Andrea Palten. I am the podcast host for this podcast, and I’m also working for Inbenta. As you know, we are the go-to resource for AI solutions. One of the things I want to talk to you about today is what we are seeing that’s going to happen in 2021. So, I’m actually not going to interview anybody. We’re just going to talk, just you and me about the top five customer experience trends for 2021. So, are you ready? 

At the end of 2020, we were really excited that the year was over and as we rolled into 2021, it’s actually very similar to 2020. Sure, we’re seeing now more changes with immunizations, but as a whole, we started out the same way as we ended 2020. So, let’s talk about what you can expect in 2021 and how things have changed. We’ve seen some changes in the customer service industry, in the artificial intelligence industry, in so many different industries that might continue for the rest of our lives. So, it’s been a big, big year. So, a recent survey has shown that post-COVID-19 59% of consumers will care even more about customer experience. 

So, before the pandemic, we saw a lot of people just going through customer service, either with a bot or knowledge management tool or with a person to live person, and people didn’t really care about it that much and didn’t talk about it as much as they did in 2020. People were finding it more and more important to have good customer service because part of it is with psychology and everything that we’re going through we have limited resources right now, and we are spread really thin. Think about the average working mom that has three kids at home, and now has to juggle everything. Same thing with the dads that are homeschooling and trying to have their careers. Maybe that’s you. It’s been really hard, so customer service has been crazy.

When we first started with COVID I remember I called, they sell airline tickets and the whole time was six hours on a call for me to cancel my ticket. I didn’t stay on for six hours. Tried to call back a month later, it was a four-hour hold. It was ridiculous. So, this has happened to too many of us so now we’re seeing that 59% of consumers, will care even more about customer experience during 2021 and most likely after. So, you need to step up your customer service game. So, let’s talk about five trends that will shape customer service and customer success in 2021 that your organization will need to know in order to win your customers’ business. 

Number one, we’ve seen customer service goes remote. We’ve seen many people working from home. A lot of customer service centers have closed and everybody’s working from home. So, as a customer service department you need to be able to give your staff, your customer service professionals, the bandwidth, the time, and the products and equipment that they may need. Maybe they need fancy microphones. Maybe they need fancy headsets. It all depends on what kind of environment that you have there. One of the biggest things that we’ve seen is that a lot of the customer service folks have gotten so much increase in calls that there’s big, huge burnout, and people are even quitting. Yes, they’re quitting doing COVID when jobs are hard to come by, but it is happening.

So, we’ve seen a lot of our customers, for example, step up their AI game. We had a customer come on right at the beginning of COVID in February of 2020 and I just talked to them the other day and they were mentioning how happy they were that they implemented our Inbenta solution. They ended up working with a chatbot of ours, and they ended up being so excited about it because so many questions were coming in that they were able now to get the chatbots to cover, and they didn’t have to hire more customer service staff. They would have had to hire more people, which they didn’t have the money because, in 2020, everything is a little bit lean. 

So, the same thing is happening now in 2021, people are still coming in with all these questions and that chatbot is so smart now that it’s answering all these questions. This is a place that has a ski resort and people are asking, is it snowing? Is it safe to be on the mountain? Do I have to wear a mask while skiing? Why are you still open during COVID? Those types of questions and they’re coming in so rapidly and so often that the chatbot is now answering them. They have about 90% of the customer service calls that are coming in or the chats on the website that are coming in are now being worked on by the chatbot. 

So, now the customer service people have freed up their time to get to the important questions. Before people were waiting on calls and waiting on the website to get answers for hours and hours. Now they’re getting these answers quickly and the customers are super happy they’re getting their answers answered and if they do need an agent, they get more time with the agent. So, that’s something that you need to think about that when your customer service people go remote, or maybe you lose some customer service people, what else are you going to put in place? That’s why we push AI because it really is a lifesaver for a lot of these companies. 

So, number two, we need improved interactions with the AI because now we have all these new words. We have a pandemic, COVID-19, COVID, Coronavirus, sickness, immunization, mask, masks. There are so many different words that are happening, so you need to have an intelligent chatbot. You need to have a knowledge management system in place. It is super important. According to American Express, they also do studies on a regular basis. According to American Express, over 60% of Americans say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-service tool such as a website or a mobile app, or a mobile website. 

Most of them are trying to get their answers quickly via some kind of device. Sometimes it’s a voice response system or an online chat. They don’t pick up the phone. They don’t want to talk to somebody. So, 60% of Americans want a quick answer on one of these digital self-service tools. The way to have that and to have that work well for your company, you will need an intelligent chatbot or a knowledge management system, or both. Alright, very important. 

Alright, number three for 2021 is that omnichannel and seamless communication is vital for your business. So, in 2020, as we all know, many businesses were forced to close down their brick and mortar shops and they had to move their business solely online. What happened is they needed to adapt quickly to that change. They needed to develop new strategies to that change because that was the only way they got to continue to provide good customer service and a good customer experience in a virtual space. There was a study done by CGS and they said that 20% of US and UK consumers prefer seamless omnichannel experience. When I say omnichannel what I mean is that they don’t have to repeat their information. 

So, for example, I’m pretty sure this has happened to you because it’s happened to me multiple times. You call in for your credit card or for some kind of service that you have and then it’s some kind of phone service and they tell you like type a new phone number, type in your address, type in the last four digits of a social security number.

So, you’re spending all this time doing this, and then finally an agent comes on the call and then they ask you the same frigging questions. They ask you your name. They ask you your address. They ask you your last four digits of your social security number. So now you’ve done everything twice and you’ve really lost a lot of time. So, we’re seeing, especially with a study by CGS that people, consumers are done. They’re sick of that. They don’t want that anymore. They want the seamless kind of feel. So, they type in all the information then the agent comes up and the agent says, hey, Andrea, glad that you calling in, I already got your address. Let me just double and confirm your last four numbers of your digital security number. How can I help you? That’s what we want right now. So, this is so important.

Consumers expect to be able to connect in a seamless manner like that, and they want to connect on their preferred platform, whether that’s calling in, whether that’s in a messenger chat or on your website, in a chatbot or on your Facebook or WhatsApp or email. They want to be able to reach you in many different formats and they want that seamlessness happening. With 51% of businesses using at least eight channels for customer experience alone it also highlights the urgent need for brands to focus on providing seamless omnichannel CX. So, are you ready? 

Alright, let’s talk about number four, hyper-personalization. So, this is something that it has trended in and out a lot. We’ve seen that over years already. Right now, we’re seeing 70% of buying experience based on how a customer feels they are being treated by the company. This number is up. People are sensitive right now. 2020, and they will be in 2021. We’ve seen companies bend over backward and giving this amazing customer service during the pandemic that now people are expecting more of that. People are needing a softer touch. So, if you have a chatbot, that’s very clinical that’s not so good. If you have a chatbot, that’s very personable, natural language processing, and a chatbot that can even use some slang, or it has a personality. Maybe you give a chatbot a name. Maybe it’s Lisa the chatbot or something that gives some kind of personalization or the chatbot immediately says, hey Andrea, welcome back. That type of thing is very important. People really want that hyper-personalization. So, something for you to think about, figure out how you can do that either with your life agents or with your AI okay.

Alright, number five. That’s the last tip I have you have for you for 2021 on how to step up your customer service game. That is increased focus on data security and privacy. Ooh, this one is a tough one right? We know this has been getting, even before COVID. All the stuff that Facebook went through with their data on privacy and security stuff. We’ve been listening to this a lot, but it really stepped up. It got more important in 2020 and it will be in 2021 and it will continue to be. So, for those of you guys that follow Zoom or use Zoom, you probably saw all the mess that they went through in 2020. All the teachers started teaching online, a lot of the businesses. Their customer service started using Zoom. Instead of doing it in the office, they were doing it from home. Even this podcast, I’m recording it from my home office on Zoom, on a Zoom tool. What happened was people were crashing Zoom rooms. This was like a big thing and Zoom had all kinds of issues and they had to put security in place and ooh, it was a mess. I actually led a Zoom room and I had people crash it and it was a little bit jarring and especially if you have a company. Medical, HIPAA, and that type of thing, you have to be really careful and Zoom has to be really careful. So, all of us now have to really focus on data security and privacy because we are doing so much more online our consumers, our customers are expecting to do more online with us that we need to have that kind of security in place.

Another thing that you might not be aware of, but in Europe, they rolled out GDPR. This was before the pandemic and now in California, we have the California Privacy Act. That’s not going to be active until about 2023, but these things are happening, and this is going to be happening more and more. So, if you’re collecting data, you need to make sure you have a privacy policy on your website. You need to make sure that you have data protection okay. So very, very important things. 

So, I’m going to repeat what we talked about. I want you to really, really have amazing customer service experience for your customers, so they keep coming back for you. So, let’s recap the top five customer experience trends for 2021. Number one- customer service goes remote. Number two- improved interactions thanks to AI. Think intelligent chatbots knowledge management systems. Three- omnichannel and seamless communication. Four- hyper-personalization. Five- increased focus on data security and privacy. 

So, as always we’re here to help you at Inbenta. If you do need help with your artificial intelligence solutions, please contact us. You can try our tool for free. You can talk to a person here that can help you out. We have a demo on our website so come on over to and let’s see how we can help you. Thank you so much for listening and I wish you a super successful 2021.

Thanks so much for tuning in. This podcast was brought to you by Inbenta. Inbenta symbolic AI implements natural language processing that requires no training data with Inbenta’s extensive lexicon and patented algorithms. Check out this robust customer interaction platform for your AI needs, from chatbots to search to knowledge centers and messenger platforms. Just go to our website to request a demo at That’s and if you liked what you heard today, please be sure to subscribe to this podcast and leave us a review. Thank you.

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