Three key Customer Experience trends in 2022
The past two years have taught the world a lot of lessons about developing a competitive advantage through superior customer experience. For many, those lessons were hard-learnt as customer preferences changed drastically. For example, leaders had to adapt eCommerce platforms in 60 days to pivot to a virtual go-to-market, others had to rethink footprint and organisational structures, and others had to prioritise digital functions to drive revenue growth or reduce churn.
As we near the second anniversary of the pandemic, we have a deeper understanding of what customers now value and what drives superior economic returns. The challenge for 2022 then lies in understanding how to scale these lessons and be a first-mover exploiting the following upcoming trends.
1) Customer experience will have an even greater influence over the C-suite
Looking at 2022, we expect that customer and employee experience feedback will be used to inform C-Suite decisions more than before. This is because there is no opinion more important than that of the customer or employees to drive company strategy. Feedback enables companies to pivot, reinvent and evolve. For example, through implementing feedback solutions in fulfillment touchpoints, such as curbside pickups, or launching employees feedback at key moments, such as in contact centre calls, companies can gain the intelligence necessary to drive loyalty.
For impactful decisions to be made, the focus on customer-centricity has to come all the way from the top. This is why customer experience is now a business critical C-Suite function in 2022 with a rightful seat at the executive table, as demonstrated by the fact almost 90 percent of organisations now have a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) or equivalent. Moving forward, this function will empower businesses to look more closely than ever at customer data and feedback signals to optimise operations, talent and innovation. Those who provide exceptional experiences in the moment at every moment – rather than simply using customer experience programmes for sluggish backwards-looking measurement surveys and analysis – will hit the ground running in 2022.
What’s more, executives who get this right will likely no longer need to compete on price. Successfully injecting the voice of the customer into product roadmaps will promote and maintain relevance and avoid ‘race to the bottom’ price compression. Customer experience will empower the C-suite to strengthen brand loyalty, increase revenue through encouraging an uptick in sales of products such as add-on purchases, and amplify product referrals, again cementing customer experience’s rightful place at the top of business leaders’ priorities.
2) More companies will use advanced technologies to drive experiences at scale
Finding the right customer data and using it to solve and enhance the customer experience is a process that has been made both easier and harder by a move to digital processes. On the one hand, the movement towards digital channels means brands don’t have to rely purely on traditional surveys and other forms of direct feedback to know what customers are feeling. On the other hand, picking up and analysing customer signals and behaviour across every touchpoint and interaction will help the business create a truly holistic picture of the customer experience and generate actionable data which can be monetised into revenue opportunities.
The proof is in the pudding. A staggering 88 percent of consumers said they were less likely to visit a website again after a single bad experience. It’s easy therefore to see that any one bad experience can mount up into a full-scale problem. To act at scale across the journey requires software and technologies that drive data at scale across the enterprise, support AI and IoT use cases, and make it easy to predict customer behaviour across channels and touchpoints – whether those touchpoints are human-supported or self-service.
Consequently, brands will be looking to optimise their customers’ digital interactions through session recording tools, heatmaps, and web analytics dashboards – to name just a few emerging solutions. Penetration of these advanced techniques has already begun; as many as 16 percent of businesses have moved toward fully-automated optimisation techniques powered by machine learning, according to a report from Decibel in conjunction with Econsultancy.
3) The dawn of a new values-driven era
Empathy has become more vital to an effective customer experience strategy than ever before. A MyCustomer and Genesys survey found that brands almost unanimously believed that empathy has become more important to customers over the last eighteen months. Advertising and marketing campaigns may have demonstrated this recognition from brands, but actions must nevertheless speak louder than words.
Next year, promises of empathy and inclusion will no longer be tolerated without meaningful change backing them up. The good news is that the continuing major disruption provides a valuable opportunity for customer-savvy organisations to demonstrate their intentions through participation in cultural change programmes.
To do this, organisations should think about creating “knowledge ecosystems” to harness the creativity of their customers, employees and shareholders. To drive real change, they need to engage in real dialogue by facilitating forums where the like-minded majority can channel their thoughts and feelings into ideation and action. This will help provide fewer agnostic experiences as companies increase investments into values, empathy and inclusion, and work to discover how to embed the expression of these values in every customer experience.
Employees – the beating heart of customer experience in 2022
The notion of involving all stakeholders in the formulation and execution of customer experience strategies brings us onto an important final point. Organisations need to remember that whatever happens in 2022, employees are the beating heart of customer experience.
From continued fears around the pandemic to childcare and perfecting the work/life balance while working from home, employees have still got more on their plates than they ever had before. What is more, they also have more options when it comes to deciding where they employ their talents.
One of the greatest competitive advantages brands can carve out in 2022 will be around how well they can acquire and retain top talent that can help deliver the best experiences to customers. This means treating employees like customers and prioritising empathy with them too.
In 2022, the experience of individuals at scale – both customers and employees – will be the most important lens through which businesses should view and evaluate their performance and business direction.