Happily, life is slowly returning to normal thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations and other healthcare measures. However, the business world is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. While daily life might be business as usual, business itself is not.

The customer experience in particular is facing major changes. In large part this is due to the events of 2020. The expectations for quality customer experience have gone up tenfold. So it’s more important than ever for companies to find new ways to meet their clients’ needs.

Experience-driven changes, like 24/7 service and quick response times, are key to meeting customer expectations. Fortunately, there are contact center software services like omnichannel routing that can help you beat out the competition.

Here are six of the biggest customer experience changes businesses can expect to see in 2021. Implementing them now will put you ahead of the curve instead of rushing to catch up to innovations:

1. Remote Customer Service Teams

The rise of remote work was a hot topic throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The customer service sector was no exception. Companies quickly found that agents could answer inquiries and solve customer problems just as effectively from home as from the office.

There are many reasons that companies will want to continue this model even after the COVID-19 threat passes. For starters, a remote team can be a lot cheaper than a group of in-house employees. That’s because you don’t have to pay for the physical office space. Plus, call center software solutions allow agents to ask questions and share experiences in an instant.

Another reason these teams will continue to work remotely is the flexibility. Sometimes being a customer service representative can seem like a thankless job. But working from home can help employees improve their work-life balance and reduce the risk of burnout. For their part, companies can potentially use flexible schedules to provide support past the typical 9-to-5 you’d get from an in-house team.

2. Omnichannel Routing

Not all customers will try to contact your company the same way. Furthermore, it can be difficult to keep track of every platform or method of communication they use. Omnichannel routing enables customer service representatives to assist every customer no matter how they reach out.

The prefix omni- means “all.” For example, someone who is omniscient knows everything. So omnichannel means that customers can reach you through social media, email, phone, video call, or text message. All of those messages will be received in the same location.

You can set up omnichannel routing via contact center software. This technology lets service representatives focus on what really matters: the customers. They won’t have to waste time context switching. The software also caters to customers’ personal preferences, allowing them to contact customer support on their own terms.

3. AI Takeover

Successful customer interactions are often determined by how long it takes to resolve an issue or answer a question. The faster you can help, the happier customers will be. This is why more and more companies are implementing artificial intelligence as part of their customer service strategies.

Software giant Microsoft reports that up to 95% of customer interactions will be AI-supported by 2025. That’s only four years from now. A big reason for this is the widespread adoption of chatbots. Chatbots can be integrated into your company website and guide customers through frequently asked questions in seconds.

Using AI, chatbots collect and use customer data to offer better service. Best of all, chatbots don’t need to be paid and never take a break. They can provide 24/7 assistance to early birds and night owls alike.

4. Personalization

A survey conducted by Epsilon and GBH Insights showed that 80% of adult American consumers want personalization from retailers. In many cases, this means personalized marketing, as that’s one of the major components of customer experience. After all, your customers may interact more with advertisements and social media than almost anything else.

Think about which aspects of your customer experience you can customize. Many consumers appreciate, and even expect, personalized deals sent to them via email or other messaging software. Coupon codes for customers’ frequently made purchases can be easily generated with customer data, and they’re a huge hit.

If the customer experiences you offer are cookie-cutter, you’re going to lose clientele. Personalization is not just the future of CX solutions; it’s what companies have to do to stay competitive today.

5. Increased Focus on Self-Service Options

It’s time to trust your customers to take care of themselves. They don’t need to call a representative for every little thing. Providing self-service options takes the burden off of your response team, and customers get what they want quicker.

Consider the hotel industry, for example. Using reservations software, customers can book their stay, add special requests, and make payments all on their own. Bookings can even be altered or cancelled online. Hotel guests never even have to go through a customer service line. They can take care of themselves and receive a quality service experience.

Some hotels are even taking self-service a step further with digital locks. Using their smartphones, guests can unlock their room door with Bluetooth technology. They can go in and out without ever seeing a hotel employee. Take a look at your own business. In what ways can you let technology do the talking?

6. Predictive Analysis

Soon companies won’t have to rely on surveys and reviews to know what their customers are thinking. Businesses can get ahead of the curve by using predictive analysis.

Customers generate a lot of data. Every time they visit your website, fill out a form, or make a purchase, your business acquires detailed data about their interactions. You can see the developing patterns of real-time customer experience and use them to improve that experience.

A simple example is inventory. Companies can use past sales data and predictive analytics to determine how much product they need to keep in stock. Predictive analysis will account for factors like seasonal demand and demographic data to keep the right items on your shelves at the right times. And that will definitely improve your customer experience.

Businesses live and die by their customers. While keeping up with new expectations can be daunting, making these six changes can help your business thrive. Make sure you’re prioritizing the customer experience, and the necessary changes will come naturally.