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Since the onset of the digital age, customer behaviors have radically evolved. As new technology emerges, customers’ expectations for brands continually align with digital evolution. However, the pandemic has brought along a significant, unexpected shift in both customer behavior and expectations. With lives upended and livelihoods being affected around the world, consumers have been forced to adopt completely new behaviors. This evolution was brought on through a trial by fire, throwing a decade’s worth of digital adoption in just a few months, which not only affected consumer behavior in digital spaces, but across brick-and-mortar as well.

Watch the customer journey orchestration webinar to learn more.

Emerging digital trends

So, what does this mean for brands looking to align with consumer trends? Today’s consumers perceive technology optimistically, as an intimate lifeline. They like to try new things and shop on a trial basis, while also looking for novelty. This demonstrates their desire for a sense of personal control and empowerment.​ While many of the former mentions aren’t surprising, one of the most interesting trends emerge from the pandemic is that consumers no longer distinguish between material life and immersive digital experiences, clearly a knock-on effect of the majority of the global population operating from home.​ Abandoning ingrained shopping habits, consumers are forcing businesses to innovate into the digital-first marketplace in real time.

The modern digital consumer demonstrates:

  • Willingness to experiment​
  • Self-efficiency ​
  • Information savviness​
  • Digital and physical integration​
  • High device ​usage​

The effect of the pandemic

However, the wow factor of new technology alone isn’t enough to engage consumers like it used to be. People are now more discerning and skeptical, and this has never been more pronounced than with the changes in consumer behavior brought on by the pandemic. Today’s customers expect brands ​to understand them and their needs, and the pandemic has caused a major shift in what those perceived needs are. A consumer’s last best experience becomes their expectation. Brands looking to stay ahead of competitors absolutely must shift their own approach to customers based on these emerging trends.

Brands need to shift and expand their tactics as they expect consumers to:​

  • Worry more, spend (less) in new ways, ​and save more.
  • Be more ambivalent, contradictory, demanding, and mistrustful.
  • Accelerate their digital behaviors and ​demand more from digital interactions.

The customer-obsessed model

The confluence of the modern digital behaviors with the anxiety-led behaviors brought on by the pandemic presents a significant challenge for brands looking to continue growing and meeting customer needs. That’s why brands must first become customer-obsessed and work toward building a new operating model. A customer-obsessed enterprise ​operates differently, focusing its strategy, operations, and budget on the customer.​ It must be customer-led, insights-driven, fast, ultra-nimble, and connected to meaningful data.

The first place to start is to assemble a holistic ecosystem:

  • Recognition​: Identity resolution at a personalized, individual level​
  • Context​: History merged with real-time contextual insight​
  • Experience​: Analytics to determine action, offer, content, ​or message ​
  • Orchestration​: Delivery and dialog management at the appropriate touchpoint​
  • Optimization​: Insights for ongoing interactions and strategic planning​

Looking toward the horizon

As new digital trends emerge and consumer behavior and expectations evolve, it’s critical for brands to evolve with them. For organizations to stay competitive, they must orchestrate a holistic end-to-end journey for each customer that adds value at every interaction and drives intent through seamlessly connected experiences in both the physical and digital worlds. To do so, many companies and industries are leveraging rich AI-powered segments and insights from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights along with journey-orchestration capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing.

Watch the customer journey orchestration webinar to learn more.

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