The 2021 Tendances de la Relation Client

The 2021 Tendances de la Relation Client 2021, just as if you were there!


Wednesday 9 December 2020

from 9am to 12pm


In videoconference

Due to the health crisis, the 2021 Tendances de la Relation Client (whose ERDIL is a partner) were organised exclusively online. This was worth a report in the style of an “investigation” to have you relive the event just as if you were there…

Thierry Spencer's 2021 Customer Relationship Trends event (Illustration)

The backstage

8:30am: First images: Thierry S.* is in the make-up room as tension rises!

8:55am: Thierry S. guides us through a backstage exploration of a Châteauform’ deprived of its attendance. Present, however, are the technical staff in charge of the event as well as the great team surrounding Thierry S.: Valérie B. and Mickaël R.

9:00am: The stage is lighting up and the event’s ringmaster Valérie B. introduces the morning’s unfolding as well as its main protagonist, Thierry S. He can rely on his partners: ERDIL and the Académie du Service.

9:03am: A large-scale event means teams mobilised in every corner of France! First live transmission with Jean-Jacques G., reporting from Montrouge. A strong speech, slides going on and on and evidence that the Symétrie des Attentions™ is essential to brands is compelling.

9:04am: Surprise, the Belgian singer Angèle joins in on the event as “tout est devenu flouuuuu” (everything went blurry). Seems like there are some Zoom issues. Before long, the first reactions in the discussion thread pop up and the thread flares up with polite feedback and friendly remarks. Mickaël R. and his production team are nevertheless doing everything in their power to overcome this technical issue.

9:16am: Séverine V., the special correspondent reporting from Besançon, now takes the floor. She presents ERDIL and the results of its study about “The place of customer listening within companies in 2020”. The video sequence has pleased the attendance and the results shared by the organisers are (for once) consistent with the police’s: 100 % of the Zoom-viewers and readers of this article should consult the study’s complete results!

9:30am: The broadcast is up again at the Châteauform’ Le Métropolitain studios where Valérie B. et Thierry S. have taken the stage. A subtle move which undoubtedly foreshadows the unveiling of the 2021 Customer Relationship Trends identity

9:31am: A new twist at Châteauform’ Le Métropolitain as, to maintain suspence even longer and have the participants try to guess the trends, Thierry S. and ERDIL hid a few clues among the Brèves de Verbatim surveys!

9:35am: The first trend is announced:

#1 Customers will be frugal

Elements of explanation provided by ERDIL’s correspondent: #1 The customer will be frugal

Following the health crisis, customers in 2021 will be even more price-conscious and will have to make some arbitration on their purchases. Customers praise discounters like, most notably, Action, Aldi or LIDL which manage to stand out with the help of low prices as well as an embraced simplicity.

To meet the demands of this frugal customer, retailers are also increasingly turning their attention to the second-hand market, integrating second-hand or reconditioned products directly onto their shelves and into their stocks.

9 h 54 : Thierry S. proceeds without fail with the second trend:

#2 Customers will be careful

At a time when injunctions to personal protective measures are part of everyone's daily life, consumers are also keeping a sharp eye on the behaviour of companies, regarding but not limited to health and safety.

Each detail of the customer relationship counts and the companies that stand out are those that have been able to implement those discreet yet particularly useful « nudges » which improve customer experience.

In the current social context where interactions between individuals are limited, such notions as quality of the relationship, care as well as the efforts made by companies have and will become even more important for the customers.

10:13am : The Tendances RC mechanics are well-oiled est bien huilée, shifting to third:

10 h 13 : The mechanisms propelling the Tendances de la Relation Client are well-oiled, let’s push towards the third trend:

#3 Customers will be remote

Like most of these 2021 trends, this trend has gained momentum due to the health crisis: remote transactions and exchanges have been bursting during the last path months. 

This momentum is not about to stop as customers have become accustomed to « collecting » digital experiences. Online experiences have even been adopted in sectors where they were still underdeveloped, as was the case for medical teleconsultation.

More and more retailers have enhanced their online functionality and brands push the boundaries of ingenuity even further to ensure that the experience is on a par with the one offered at the point of sale.

10:30am: The video of ERDIL’s study is back on the screen… Bug? Technical problem? Takeover of the studios by the Besançon-based company?

The official report would finally state that there was a break time allowing viewers to attend to their vital needs… or take another look at ERDIL’s study if they so wish.

10:39am: Thierry S. takes over the stage once again and proceeds with a trend which the cyberdefence squad had helped to decipher:

#4 Customers will be secure

Digital interactions mean digital terminals and thus the need to secure exchanges and transactions. Companies will have to step up their efforts to protect their customers' data; they might also deal with cyber attacks and risks of hacking, “which not only happen to others”.

Their challenge will involve successfully maintaining customer experience while improving online interfaces and security.

10:58am: Despite several hours of live transmission and the fatigue setting in, Thierry S.’ speech remains exciting as his fifth trend is no less than… intense!

#5 Customers will be intense

...or in search of intensity! Emotional support should be better integrated by brands, especially by French companies, whose promises are still far too disappointing for customers.

Brands that understand this will be able to stand out, in particular through micro-moments: those small attentions, furtive or discreet moments that bring great satisfaction to customers.

11:17 a.m. 11:27 a.m. (yes, the fifth trend was more intense than first planned): Is it already the time for the event’s bonuses and maluses? No, yet the last trend states:

#6 Customers will be polarity

While customers have to make some trade-offs based on products' prices (cf. Trend #1 above), more and more of them are also making choices based on their beliefs.

Companies will have no choice but to take a stand and commit to certain subjects, otherwise their image may be tarnished and customers may look elsewhere, towards brands whose values they are more in line with.

11:50am: Another break period for viewers who have learned a bit more about the Prix des Prix

Prix des prix and surprises

11:55 a.m. : Suspense is peaking as it will soon be revealed which company was the most rewarded in 2020. Indiscreet sources have revealed that the winner is already in the room but no microphone or spy camera have been able to spot them!

11:56am: LDLC and TotalEnergies (formely Total Direct Energie) are respectively awarded the third and second place of the Prix des Prix podium! And the 2021 winner is… Toyota! Hélène V., Deputy Director Customer Experience & Academy at Toyota France, was the mystery person. She is now coming on stage to receive her award as the audience stand up in ovation congratulatory messages pour on the Zoom discussion thread!

12:06pm: Yet another twist as it is revealed that the Prix des Prix results has been leaked before the ceremony (the investigation is still ongoing but strong suspicions are cast on Thierry S.)! The company ERDIL, which was in the confidence, has taken advantage of these leaks to prepare an additional surprise mixing verbatim and love, just like an early Valentine’s Day’s gift!

12:06pm: Since the Tendances de la Relation Client 2021 are a prospective exercise, the morning concludes with the results of Thierry S.’ survey: « Which adjective would you pick to qualify the upcoming year, 2021? »

The results are clear: the opinion is polarised and displays a strong divide between more optimistic picks (“energising”) and pessimistic ones (“mortifying”). The adjective “uncertain” alone receives 20% of the votes…

Thank you for following this report of the 2021 Tendances de la Relation Client. If you couldn’t be in, as was the case for the Zoom audience, we do hope that you’ve had a trendy read!

You can also download the Tendances de la Relation Client white paper on the Académie du Service website!

* Anonymisation of the names has been used in a humorous way to fit the news report style of this article. Discover below the event’s main characters, whose names you may already have guessed:

  • Thierry S. : Thierry Spencer, consultant, speaker, creator of Le Sens du Client blog and as you may have guessed, host of the Tendances de la Relation Client
  • Valérie B. : Valérie Bignon, Project Director at the Académie du Service and this event’s ringmaster
  • Mickaël R. : Mickaël Ratsimbazafy, Communications & Marketing manager at the Académie du Service and the 2021 Tendances de la Relation Client’s technical manager
  • Jean-Jacques G. : Jean-Jacques Gressier, the Académie du Service Director
  • Séverine V. : Séverine Vienney, Founder and President of ERDIL
  • Hélène V. : Hélène Vay Rapp, Academy & Customer Experience Assistant Director at Toyota France