Keeping Up with Customer Experience in 2021 and Beyond

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2020 was a pivotal year, with COVID-19 profoundly changing the ways we live, work, and transact. And in many industries, the trends brought on by the pandemic—physical distancing, limitations on non-essential services, and new health and safety regulations—will only continue to define how businesses operate.

Supply chains, for instance, have yet to fully rebound in industries like manufacturing and retail—especially where operations are tied to virus hotspots. Meanwhile, banking and healthcare call centers are struggling to process the spike in phone traffic as services are reduced at branches and clinics. In education and government, organizations have had to shift many of their activities online and create effective learning environments and citizen services.

As a result, customer experience (CX) has arrived at a turning point. For years, companies have made gradual progress with digital transformation; now, the pace must quicken. Those experiencing revenue gaps from closures or reduced foot traffic can no longer delay reinventing their customer-facing apps and portals, and organizations in all industries must prepare to meet changing demands.

In this “Modernizing the Customer Experience” blog series, we’ll take a closer look at how certain industries are evolving digital customer experiences in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges these organizations now face, and how Okta can help them create the customer experiences of tomorrow.

The silver lining

First, some good news: this new era for digital will likely bring more engaging and secure experiences to customers around the globe. 

Taking the wisdom earned in earlier stages of the pandemic, forward-thinking leaders can note the changes and initiatives that improved customer and employee engagement, business agility, and profitability—and continue them with greater focus. Not only that, but as customer expectations ebb and flow between safety and convenience, businesses can thrive by adjusting their policies and processes to balance the two.

Still, trust counts for everything. Customers expect businesses to protect their personal information in a way that doesn’t constrain how they use an app or service. Organizations that make their customers feel comfortable enough to share personal information can turn data insights into digital experiences that authentically gauge peoples’ interests and needs, thereby increasing loyalty. 

To accomplish that, businesses need to provide user-friendly services that honor privacy and data security. Using the latest technologies to build these competencies into your digital experiences is the only way to stay ahead of the curve.

With every challenge, there’s opportunity

In many industries, the pandemic has caused an array of CX challenges that must spur digital transformation. Here’s a snapshot of what we’re seeing across sectors:


For government agencies, the pandemic has illuminated a long-standing challenge around lagging digital services for citizens. Now, local and state agencies have a mandate to expedite digital offerings, and we’re seeing more information sharing between agencies and with the public. 

Moving forward, agencies need to build the infrastructure to provide efficient services online. Security is an essential part of this infrastructure, as agencies must mitigate the risks involved with new depths of exchange between partners and public and private domains.


As classroom learning shifts online, educational institutions need to deliver new, high-quality digital environments for students and teachers. This means quickly onboarding and scaling a variety of tools and platforms, including Zoom, Google Meet, and Blackboard. Schools and universities have users connecting from a mix of devices and networks, all of which require access support. In a period of increased cyber attacks and phishing, institutions should take care to secure their users and resources.


Healthcare providers have rapidly adopted telemedicine, which involves “digital front door” strategies to serve patients. By requesting personal information upfront, healthcare practitioners can better understand patients’ preferences and triage their needs more efficiently. Still, the virtual patient experience is in its infancy, and providers need solid infrastructure to administer these services and guarantee data protection compliance.


Banking has also become increasingly remote, with call centers taking precedence over in-branch services. As loan and refinancing applications surge, banks need to efficiently navigate high call volumes while screening for fraud and other security concerns. That means accelerating the shift to secure digital banking and wealth management.


Retail is broadly seeing two things happen: an increased emphasis on digital transactions, and hiring for in-person roles to support distribution and fulfillment. As demand fluctuates, retailers need to engage customers in creative and cost-effective ways. This means uniting fragmented stores and device interactions into a cohesive omnichannel customer experience and supporting conveniences like online shopping and curbside pickup.


Manufacturing companies have seen major disruptions to their supply chains, particularly those with international partners. Firms must navigate through unpredictable demand and order requirements as the economic fallout from retail cascades into manufacturing. To engage with more customers and distributors, manufacturers will need to deploy new digital spaces, such as portals.

While each industry faces unique challenges, modernizing and securing digital customer experiences are shared priorities. As a leader in identity, Okta is the partner you can trust to meet evolving customer expectations. By using Okta’s customer identity and access management (CIAM) platform, you can:

  • Reduce development time for new digital features
  • Close security gaps in customer experiences
  • Eliminate maintenance and administrative redundancies
  • Comply with relevant regulations 
  • Create digital experiences that inspire trust, loyalty, and engagement

Check back for the next post in our “Modernizing the Customer Experience” series, or read our "Adapt to Thrive: Evolving Customer Experience in the Face of a Pandemic" whitepaper to learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the future of CX.