Shoaib Hussain at Business Systems outlines five customer experience trends for 2022.
The Pandemic Has Accelerated Digital Adoption
For many years contact centre experts have talked about the idea of cloud contact centre technology being the solution for true omni-channel customer experiences as well as a solution for remote working. However, 2021 was the year we really saw organisations putting their money where their mouth is.
The reason for organisations doubling down on digital innovation has mainly been due to the unprecedented events of the pandemic. Amongst all the changes we’ve had to endure over the past two years, adapting to remote communication methods and working from home (WFH) have to be two of the biggest changes we’ve faced.
As much as we’d like to praise many organisations in the industry for their innovative work on revolutionising the contact centre environment for good, the majority of the changes being made were vital for organisations to adapt. Think of it as a sink or swim situation and basic survival instinct meant contact centres either adapted to change or got left behind.
Organisations and buyers alike have become digital first consumers. The good old days of contact centres differentiating customer experiences by demographic are over – it’s no longer just the Gen Z’s and Millennials who demand online experiences. It’s everyone. These past few years have all made us become dependent on digital services that are readily available to us on our screens.
We’ve briefly touched upon the fact that in the last two years, organisations have accelerated digital transformation and have morphed today’s customer into a digital-first consumer. This is what is going to shape 2022 – this year will be the year we define what the new age of the customer experience (CX) really is.
Here’s a list of some of our key customer experience trends we anticipate to see throughout 2022.
Hybrid Work Model and the Impact on CX
From the onset of the pandemic, leadership teams have been faced with the challenging task of ensuring employees have the appropriate technology to work from home. They’ve also been faced with the even more challenging task of ensuring their employees have remained engaged and motivated throughout.
The last two years have changed employee expectations for good. Having had to balance family life while working from home, where organisations have had no choice but to accommodate these changes, has meant this demand is no longer expected to be temporary, but a permanent expectation from employees.
In fact, research by Microsoft last year found that over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote working to continue. The research also found that, to prepare, 66 percent of business leaders were considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid working environments.
The report by Microsoft is one of the many pieces of research conducted by organisations, proving that extreme flexibility and hybrid work will make up the ideal post-pandemic workplace.
For organisations to ensure that the hybrid work model works for them, business leaders need to ensure their strategy prioritises the digital-first employee experience. The digital-first employee experience is the foundation behind improving customer experience strategies.
If employee experience is not up to par, this will have a direct impact on employee attrition and CX will suffer in the process.
Instant Gratification Is Becoming a Must-Have Customer Expectation
The changing demands of the workforce is not the only factor organisations will need to be focusing on in 2022. The acceleration of digital technology in 2021 has impacted consumer behaviour.
The instant nature of digital technology has meant that consumers no longer have the patience for anything less than instant gratification.
Instant gratification takes many different forms across a multitude of industries. For example, in the supermarket industry, instant gratification takes the form of quicker deliveries. In the property sector, instant gratification may take the form of using enhanced Artificial intelligence (AI) for instant listings and banking apps for instant money transferral.
Although the methods organisations use to achieve instant gratification may differ, a common goal emerging is the need to have a proactive approach to achieving successful customer service.
When considering instant gratification, a traditional service method of engaging entirely on agent-assisted channels may miss out on the full customer journey..
Recent research conducted by NICE, for example, found that 65% of customers will search on Google when looking for more information or when they need a question answered. In addition, 96% of students would consider using self-service channels before they even attempt to connect with agent.
So what does this prove? It proves that customer service doesn’t just start when a customer interacts with an agent. The customer journey will start way before any agent gets involved.
Organisations Must Adopt a Reactive Customer Service Approach to Survive
As customers become more accustomed to using self-service channels, they will naturally build a reactive approach to finding out information. Adopting a proactive approach that aligns with these changing customer habits will be a key focus for organisations in 2022.
Research by salesforce has found that 45% of customers claim they will switch brands if the company does not anticipate their needs. Failing to prioritise a proactive approach for the very near future, could have a potentially detrimental effect on your organization’s bottom line.
Proactive customer service is all about solving future customer problems which they may face and resolving them before customers actually have to face them.
With so much data and information out there, this method of customer service has become increasingly possible to accomplish through the following ways:
- Having chatbots or instant messaging applications readily available on the website instead of traditional methods of submitting contact forms
- Setting up automated callbacks or directing customers to channels that can provide instant support
- Optimising content for web searches so your website can appear on the top of the search engine results page after a potential customer searches for a specific query.
These are just some examples of ways organisations can be more proactive in their approach to customer service. Ultimately, a great way to help build a good proactive customer service strategy is to invest in Analytics solutions, to better understand customer behaviour and pain points.
Other methods include investing in conversational AI technology.
The Term Digital Native Is Now Becoming More and More Irrelevant
The early stages of the pandemic saw strict regulations on personal safety, where face-to-face interactions were replaced with digital interactions. Out of all the ways the pandemic has changed us during the last two years, truly immersing ourselves into the digital world has been one of the most predominant changes.
From using banking applications to contactless delivery, there’s no such thing as a preferred channel anymore. Consumer behaviour is changing – the differences in channel preference between ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital non-natives’ are slowly becoming non-existent.
The correlation between demographic and channel preference is becoming increasingly irrelevant. 2022 needs to be the year organisations come to terms with this new reality. If not, there’s one thing for certain – the digital landscape offers a vast array of alternatives options to customers.
CX Is Now Becoming a Way to Set Yourselves Apart From the Competition
Traditional methods of staying ahead of the competition are slowly becoming less of a priority for brands. Brands have now realised that exceptional customer experience is what is helping differentiate themselves from the competition.
One of the key reasons for this shift in mindset is because brands know that today’s customers will pay more for a better customer experience.
Brands are recognising that a strong customer experience is key to building brand trust. The more a customer trusts a brand, the more likely they are to share data with them.
In fact, research by Microsoft has found that 48% of surveyed consumers have completely stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor experience. As society slowly transforms into a service-driven economy we can expect an increase in organisations investing in technologies that help improve customer experience and build brand trust.
With all the trends we discussed in this blog it’s clear that the key player in a lot of these trends is the pandemic. The pandemic has fast-tracked digital transformation.
Organisations can no longer dwell on digital transformational strategies to improve CX – 2022 must be the year they put these plans into action. And this may make or break organisations. 2021 was all about setting the foundations for the future, 2022 will be all about putting everything we’ve learnt into action.