The stats don't lie

9 Forrester Digital Transformation Statistics You Must Know to Give Your Customers the Digital Customer Experience they Demand

Digital transformation is about ditching tired tactics and making a wake where true innovation can ride. But companies often find it tough to abandon their decades-old strategies that were once successful.

In fact, contact centers struggle to keep up when it comes to digital improvements, let alone overhaul their processes and technology. Just two years ago hardly a third of contact centers, only 36%, used any form of cloud technology. While many invest in new tools and tech, they often turn to quick fixes. And these fixes are Bandaids that cover up bigger issues.

But 2020 made those piles of Bandaids fall to pieces, exposing what’s underneath. The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to reckon with their arsenal of digital tools. Or, their lack thereof. The contact centers that have breezed through this year were already using cloud technology. They were prepared to move their employees home and to take on new digital challenges, without their customers noticing.

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Contact center leaders are throwing out their once-successful models to adapt to the new digital landscape. And to make sure they continue to meet their customers’ rising expectations.

The era of digital transformation is here to support consumers on their quest for better. And we’re here to help you navigate it all.

Here are 9 stats from Forrester’s Digital Transformation research to help you navigate this new era.

9 Must-Know Forrester Digital Transformation Statistics.

1. Until now, only 15% of companies prioritized digital transformation. Next year, every company will be moving technology into every part of their business. (Forrester)

Why it matters: The year 2020 separated the front runners from those lagging behind on the technology front. Those that already valued digital transformation have come out on top. They could move their employees to remote work and handle higher interaction volumes as distressed customers reached out for help. The other 85% of companies have had to work extra hard to keep up with rapid technology changes and demands. Next year, all companies are prioritizing tech advancement.

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2. In 2021, U.S. tech investment will drop 1.5% overall but CIO spending on cloud platforms will accelerate. (Forrester)

Why it matters:  Legacy technology has already been phasing out of businesses, as cloud platforms are more flexible and scalable. Now that flexibility has been key to businesses surviving during the pandemic, CIOs know their spend should go to cloud strategy. IT teams are pressing pause on planned investments in monolithic tech and rethinking how to make their systems more adaptable. Especially with so many remote workers. With so many systems now living in the cloud, integrating your legacy tech with modern platforms will only get messier. It’s time to act now.

3. Remote work has become a norm, and it’s predicted to rise by 300%. (Forrester)

Why it matters: Most companies are shifting to a hybrid work model. The contact center industry is no exception. To support remote employees, your digital game needs to be strong. Implementing cloud-based technologies and strengthening adaptability will help your employees move between home and the office. Plus, new employees will expect the work-from-anywhere culture. So, modernizing your systems and processes now gives you a leg up when attracting new talent.

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4. Digital customer service interactions will increase by 40%. (Forrester)

Why it matters: Because of COVID-19, consumers this year relied on online shopping for everything. And that trend is likely to continue. People got used to ordering groceries from the couch and scheduling telehealth appointments. 

Focusing your strategy on digital transformation will benefit both your agents and customers. Customers are more comfortable and confident with online customer service because they’re spending so much more time online. But more customers reaching out through digital channels can put your agents in a bind. Investing in digital-first tools will help your agents keep up with their rising workload, no matter how many Tweets or emails customers dish out. And, offering service on channels your customers actually use means they’ll stay loyal to your brand.

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5. 42% of U.S. adults are shopping more at online-only stores. And 42% won’t be returning to in-store shopping any time soon. (Forrester)

Why it matters: With so many people turning to online shopping, companies are finding gaps in their processes. It’s like there’s a magnifying glass on every path through the customer journey. 

Errors that pop up in digital buying journeys stick out like a sore thumb, and customers aren’t hesitating to reach out for help when they spot them. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, AI company Tethr found the number of tough customer calls nearly doubled. And your agents take the brunt of these customer complaints. So, company leaders are reckoning with the need for updated processes and platforms. Moving more operations to the cloud and repairing processes will be the keys to success. As will providing your agents with efficient digital tools and metrics.

6. Marketing efforts on brand loyalty and retention will increase by 30% because customer experience is the main focus. (Forrester)

Why it matters: Most companies haven’t improved their customer experience for nearly 25 years. But many are finally realizing how much a better customer experience impacts long-term success. Modern customers demand speed, efficiency, and ease. 

In 2020, customers also began to expect more care and attention from the brands they love. Customer expectations are always changing, so it’s important to listen. Spend time and resources studying what creates customer loyalty. Then, equip your agents with the tools they need to listen to, know, and help your customers from the first touchpoint on.

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7. Some 27% of brands improved their CX this year, which is 13% higher than the previous year. They improved by focusing on core CX competencies. (Forrester)

Why it matters: Customer expectations have been on the rise for years, but companies have historically struggled to keep pace. This year makes a giant leap in closing the gap between customer expectations and their realities.

Customers want each agent encounter to feel seamless and quick. They want to feel known. And they want their questions answered without having to shuffle from one department to another. To stay ahead of the competition, use your customer experience as a marker for success. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers to see how you can make their experience better.

How can you help your agents serve up knowledgeable help, faster? And how can you use digital transformation to propel your agents’ efficiency and effectiveness forward? For instance, if you invest in modern platforms that integrate and talk to each other, your agents get access to more complete customer data. And once they have customer history at their fingertips, they have data to inform their conversations, boosting their confidence and empowering them to better help customers.

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8. 10% of budgets will go to emotion analytics, like sentiment analysis. (Forrester)

Why it matters: Emotions drive consumer decisions more than rational thought. For years, companies have been looking at what consumers are buying. Now, they’re investing more to answer why they’re buying. Companies are seeking insight into how customers feel after each purchase and each interaction with a brand. They’re seeking out qualitative data on the perceptions and feelings of their customers instead of just quantitative metrics. To up your competitive edge, consider how your contact center can measure customer sentiment as you transform your processes and technology.

How can you adjust your customer feedback strategy to account for the emotions people feel throughout their customer journey? And, how can you use conversational signals, like tone of voice and word choice, to ID how happy your customers are with their service? Think through what else you can measure to get a full picture of your customers, so you can seek out digital tools that make their experience better.

9. Over 30% of B2B tech buyers want to use chatbots and virtual assistants instead of human sellers. (Forrester)

Why it matters: Your customers prefer online portals and automated tools because they eliminate time and hassle. Your agents also prefer when you send customers down this pathway because they can focus on top-tier support tasks. B2B buyers are no different than everyday consumers – we’re all people who want our problems solved as quickly and accurately as possible.

C-suite leaders who adopt intelligent systems for their selling and support conversations will be able to keep up with the competition. Bots and virtual assistants integrate with your current systems seamlessly to share customer information and help customers proactively. Incorporating bots and automated tools into your digital transformation strategy will help you deliver personalized service during every B2B interaction.

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We originally published this post on July 3, 2019, and we updated it for new insight (after some pretty drastic market shifts) on October 29, 2020.