5 customer experience trends for 2021, as predicted by The Jetsons

Emily Hackeling,

Content Marketing at Front

21 January 20210 min read

Yes, you can glean customer experience insights from a cartoon. Here's how.

Have you ever thought about how you watched The Jetsons as a kid and at the time, truly believed that you might have a robot maid by the the time the year 2020 rolled around? And then you thought, "how silly," and proceeded to flip the switch on your Roomba—oh, hm...

The original show was actually spot on with many of their predictions. Flat screen TVs, video conferencing, smart watches, space travel: they pretty much nailed it when it comes to these inventions. And we can learn a lot about trends in the business world from these predictions, too.

So let's dive in. How does the futuristic world portrayed in The Jetsons relate to customer experience trends today? What predictions did they get right, and what predictions did they get wrong?

At a high level, all of their innovations revolved around two things, which are still some of the most important factors of a great customer experience today: relationships and automation.

1. Multichannel customer experience

The Jetsons predicted that we'd be able to use technology to achieve a high level of connectivity with one another, regardless of location. They were connecting through video watches on their wrists, through video screens, and more.

And that certainly reflects in CX best practices today. You don't need to be standing next to a customer to chat with them personally. In fact, customer expectations are that businesses create the necessary digital experiences you'll need for real time, face-to-face communication.

But as we know, connectivity today isn't limited to just video. We've got a million and a half ways to get in touch with each other. Especially in recent years, your organization needs to have a multichannel presence, so your customer service team can be reached through digital channels like live chat, social media, mobile devices, email, phone, and SMS text. And this CX trend is only growing: PWC reported that the number of companies investing in the omni-channel experience has increased from 20% to more than 80% in 2020. That's quite a leap.

2. Automation and AI allow for scale.

This one feels obvious: Rosey the Robot isn't in (most of) our homes these days, but there is enough of this type of technology to fill this list of 14 robots that clean your house. How do robots relate to customer experience? Well, they clean the floors of your contact center so your customer service team has a clean workspace. Jokes aside though, in the past years, automation of all kinds has infiltrated customer service tools. Think chatbots, routing optimization, message generators and autoreplies. And at Front we think that's a good thing, because while it sounds counterintuitive automation can actually make you more human.

If you're looking to give a personalized customer experience at scale, you're going to need automation and AI. You'll need it to obtain customer feedback, to respond to customer requests at scale, to collect customer data, to cut operational costs, and much more. Whether you're a local restaurant implementing a QR code for your menu or you're a financial institution investing in artificial intelligence, automation for the sake of efficiency is a customer service trend that's here to stay. According to Gartner, 90% of businesses say they'll invest in artificial intelligence to help handle customer service requests in the next 3 years.

3. You have to be human.

Empathy is hard to scale—but as McKinsey reported, this is changing quickly thanks to machine learning: "Understanding social cues and adapting to them is how people build trust. That’s not easy to do digitally or at scale. Machine learning is changing that, or at least getting much better at reading and reacting to emotional cues. More sophisticated algorithms are allowing programs to interpret new kinds of data (visual, auditory) and extrapolate emotions much more effectively than in the past."

As social responsibility grows in popularly, consumers don't just want good customer service or a good product; they also want to trust the brands they're buying from. Gartner predicted that 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging tech like machine learning, chatbots, and mobile messaging by 2022, which is up significantly from just 15% in 2018.

4. Less is more with self-service.

Just as The Jetsons championed the futuristic minimalist design, the "less is more" principle applies to customer experience in 2021 and beyond. Of course, you need to have a high quality product, and companies will pay more for a product or service that they really believe in the value of. But your customer experience strategy needs to focus on meeting customer needs, simply and concisely. That means answering customer service inquiries with fewer replies, giving more thorough information on the first reply, and getting the important questions answered first.

In the coming year, this will be even more important. Your digital transformation for the customer experience should optimize for enabling customers to get more from fewer interactions with you—extreme simplicity for engaging with you and easy self-service options. After all, 91% reported that they'd use a knowledge base to get information on their own if it met their needs.

5. Brand and mission are the difference between winning and losing.

Here's one The Jetsons didn't get quite right. The original cartoon featured a mainly white cast of characters. The newer version of the show corrected for this slightly, introducing a few more diverse characters into the mix. When it comes to customer experience today, business leaders know that this diversity and inclusion are among the most important investments you can make as an organization.

It's not only the right thing to do, but companies who prioritize these and champion them are also proven to move faster, better relate to customers, and be more creative. Forrester listed principles of inclusive design that they say are critical for retaining customers. Zooming out even further, brands that not only focus on customer satisfaction, but also employee satisfaction and a positive corporate culture have proven to be the ones that succeed in the long term.

So there you have it: you don't have to stick to market research reports to learn about customer experience. Cartoons can teach you a thing or two, too.

Humanizing Onboarding, Support & Success

If you're interested in delivering an out-of-this-world customer experience (get it?) over the next year, sign up to join our live event Humanizing Onboarding, Support & Success featuringClare Muscutt, who is also known as the Queen of Customer Experience (no jokes!) In collaboration with Loom and Aircall, our team will get the down-low from Clare on how customer support, onboarding, and success can stay personal and have a huge impact on their overall customer experience.

Written by Emily Hackeling

Originally Published: 21 January 2021

Stories to strengthen the heart of business