AppDynamics’ Gregg Ostrowski says these are the three new customer dynamics that will shape technologists’ thinking in 2022.

The pandemic has shifted consumer attitudes and behaviours in ways that we may not come to fully understand for many years. Eighteen months of uncertainty have impacted how we think and engage with one another, altered our working practices and driven us to reassess our priorities in life.

As this excellent article by Jamie Ducharme in Time Magazine states, “The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have spurred a collective reckoning with our values, lifestyles and goals – a national existential crisis of sorts.”

In terms of day-to-day habits and behaviours, the pandemic has triggered a seismic shift towards digital services, with millions of people around the world relying on applications in almost every area of their lives.

Technologists have stepped up to deliver brilliant digital experiences which have helped people to navigate through the most difficult period of their lives, keeping in touch with friends and family, accessing essential products and services, and staying entertained.

In our latest consumer study, The App Attention Index 2021: Who takes the rap for the app?, 84% of people reported that digital services have had a positive impact on their lives during the pandemic.

In Singapore, a significant 95% of consumers say that it helped them to get through this trying period and to cope and function in most areas of their lives. Indeed, many people have realised the full benefits of digital services. As Google’s e-Conomy SEA 2020 report highlights, more than one in every three users of digital services was new due to COVID-19.

Unsurprisingly, people report that applications have made it easier for them to access services and fit in activities around their other work and life commitments, and for many, digital services have enabled them to try new things that they wouldn’t have done before. That’s why the vast majority of people expect to maintain or increase their use of applications even as our lives return to some form of normality.

Technologists across all sectors will be only too aware of this growing, insatiable consumer appetite for digital services and that means the pressure to innovate at speed and deliver faultless digital experiences at all times is only going to intensify.

Now, as technologists begin to look ahead to 2022, it’s important that they step back and reflect on how consumer attitudes and behaviours have changed and are still evolving during the pandemic, so that they can ensure their strategies directly meet the current and future needs of their customers.

Here are three critical new consumer dynamics they need to consider:

1. Digital gratitude: Brands (and technologists) have a chance to build loyalty in a fragmented market

Our research found that consumers are extremely grateful to brands that have stepped up to meet the challenge of the pandemic, innovating at speed to deliver applications that have supported them during this difficult time. 

The vast majority of people say that digital services have allowed them to feel more in control and empowered and acted as a lifeline to normality during the pandemic. Consumers acknowledge and appreciate the efforts that some brands have made to meet their needs.

  • 81% of consumers in India and 73% in Australia are thankful to the brands that invested in digital during the pandemic so they could get access to the services they love and rely on.

Beyond being grateful for digital services, these online experiences have become a key factor, arguably the most important factor, in maintaining and driving customer loyalty.

  • In Singapore, for instance, a notable 75% say they feel more loyal to the brands that went above and beyond with the quality of their digital service during the pandemic.

This is an important shift and one that should give technologists a strong platform within the organisation.

2. The blame game: Consumers blame applications owners when things go wrong

The flip side is that when consumers don’t get the level of experience they expect, they’re not interested in the cause – they immediately point the finger of blame at the application owner. 78% of Singaporeans believe it’s always the responsibility of the brand to ensure that the digital service or application works perfectly. 

In some instances, this is justified, where customers experience slow page loading, poor response times, downtime or security failures – factors that are controlled by the application owner. But even when the digital experience is impacted by external factors outside the application – such as bad internet connectivity, 4G/5G mobile network issues, slow payment gateways or technical issues with third party plug-ins – consumers still lay the blame at the feet of the application owner.  

Technologists are now operating in a world where consumers are demanding more from their digital experiences than ever before and application owners will continue to find themselves in the firing line when customers don’t get what they want.

3. One shot to impress: Pressure is on application owners to get it right

Tolerance for poor digital experience has all but disappeared and consumers are no longer willing to make any allowances. In Asian countries like Singapore and India, 60% and almost 70% of people respectively state that they now give brands only one shot to impress them and if their applications don’t deliver the right experience, they simply won’t use them again.

This is a defining moment for application owners – there are no second chances. Unless they are consistently delivering the “total application experience”, they risk seeing more than half of their customers walk away.

Full-stack observability with business context to foster collaboration for a better customer experience

Evidently, the pressure that technologists have faced over the last 18 months is not going to relent any time soon. The ability of IT departments to deliver frictionless, faultless digital experiences at all times will be the difference between success and failure for many businesses.

Additionally, in order to meet customers’ increasing expectations, companies need to break down their organisational silos and have their sales and marketing teams work more closely with their IT departments.

Having real-time visibility into IT performance allows technologists to monitor, identify and fix issues before they impact users. And connecting this wealth of data to real-time business metrics will help them to cut through the data noise and pinpoint the data that really matters most.

But more broadly, the insights gained from connecting IT performance to business outcomes can also provide useful guidance to other teams as they engage with customers and facilitate stronger collaboration across the organisation. Various departments can visualise key business metrics, better understand major milestones in the customer journey and work together towards the same business goals.

As customer preferences and behaviours continue to change in today’s digital economy, businesses must adapt their strategies accordingly. With the right tools and insights, teams within an organisation can foster a collaborative approach, working together to give customers the best digital experiences they can ask for.