As we head into 2022, 7 key trends will present immense opportunities (and challenges) for brands in the UK. Comdata experts in the UK give the inside view on what’s happening in customer management in the UK – from mobility to connectivity to tearing up the rule book.
1. The Automotive Revolution
The UK isn’t the only country where this revolution is taking place – the shift to e-mobility and electrification is global. But it’s going to change the way that UK consumers live, travel and spend, and has far-reaching implications for automotive, energy, insurance, finance and technology brands in Britain. So, in that sense, it’s a key UK trend.
The revolution is accelerating on different fronts, such as:
- consumers moving from car ownership to models like car sharing
- booming sales of electric vehicles (EV) and the development of charging networks
- connected cars creating opportunities for manufacturers in post-sales customer care and e-commerce.
In short, there’s a new mobility ecosystem being built, creating huge opportunities for brands. But as Guillaume Langle, Comdata’s Global Automotive and Mobility Practice Leader, says: “Each time we talk about a change of role or a new opportunity, the customer support and technology expertise needs to be in place to support that.”
2. Multilingual, Multicultural, Multichannel
London is a city of languages. Estimates of just how many languages are spoken there vary wildly – ranging from 90 to 300-plus. The point is, it’s an amazing place to assemble a team of multilingual agents, and this remains the case post-Brexit.
What sets London apart from other multilingual hub cities is the range of languages spoken.
In addition to the ‘usual’ Western European languages, there are sizeable and stable populations of people speaking Nordic and Eastern European languages, Mandarin, Cantonese, Swahili, Arabic, and many more, able to operate across multiple channels.
As a result,
- London (as well as some other parts of the UK) is an ideal base for bilingual, trilingual and multilingual, multichannel campaigns.
- Customer management providers with a London base can quickly and cost effectively scale up their multilingual teams whenever there’s a need.
3. Start-Ups and Entrepreneurs Need Support
Napoleon allegedly called Britain a ‘nation of shopkeepers’, but actually it’s a nation of small businesses.
SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population in the UK, and more than 1,000 new businesses were set up each day pre-Covid. Post-pandemic, with up to a quarter of UK workers planning to quit their jobs in the next few months in the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, the start-up rate could soar.
But many analysts point to a difficulty in turning UK start-ups into mid-sized businesses, and entrepreneurs need more access to shared resources that allow them to scale. Comdata UK recently answered this market need by launching a flexible Bureau service for growth companies. The shared multilingual resource helps them to:
- outsource their customer service function and improve the CX, regardless of fluctuations in call volumes
- test new campaigns
- launch products and services in new markets
- reduce the risks and costs of growth.
Reflecting the diversity of the UK’s start-up market, the service caters for a wide range of business sizes and sectors.
4. Riding the Subscriptions Wave
Subscription services are booming in the UK – almost 30% of UK shoppers have at least one, according to Royal Mail.
Cocktails, beauty products, meal kits, coffee, socks – think of an item and there’ll probably be a subscription service available. Nor was it just a lockdown trend – subscription box sales are projected to grow to £1.8 billion pa by 2025.
For brands, the attractions of subscription box services are clear, including:
- continuity of revenue
- exciting opportunities for customer retention, increased spend and long-term value.
However, the challenges can also be significant, with these services potentially expensive to run, customers wanting superior CX, and some retailers seeing high acquisition costs and high churn.
As a result, brands will increasingly look for support from trusted outsourcing partners with strong experience in this area and flexible commercial models. Ideally, their capabilities will cover the whole gamut of subs management, from payment processing to physical fulfilment to full customer lifecycle management.
5. Technology Matters
The technology trend isn’t unique to the UK, but it’s still fundamental to everything happening there in CX.
AI, automation, machine learning, data analytics – every brand wants to know how to incorporate these into their business effectively when they may not have the expertise in-house.
Once again, it comes down to having trusted partners with deep, practical experience in applying technology to specific CX challenges and opportunities, not just talking about it!
As an example, reducing repeat inbound by using AI, algorithms and big data to predict propensity to call back.
Another example is the use of cutting-edge visual support technology in a variety of applications from technical support to customer care to fraud prevention.
6. Connected Britain
The UK government likes to talk about ‘global Britain’, but some businesses feared that a post-Brexit UK would become more insular. In customer management, this hasn’t happened. Britain is just as connected as ever, and both UK and international brands can harness that cost-effectively.
One factor in the UK’s customer management connectivity is its strength as a multilingual and multicultural hub, which we’ve already talked about.
But this is complemented by other factors such as labour market flexibility, which allows rapid scaling; technology capabilities and time zone.
7. Much of What You Know Is Changing
For all the perception of the UK as a nation of heritage and history, its business environment doesn’t stand still. The Sunday Times Rich List annually unveils a cast of new online retail, computer gaming and technology billionaires in Britain; and it’s a nation that continually innovates in areas from fashion to finance. On top of that, economists are constantly talking about uncertainty and the need for agility.
What’s this got to do with Customer Experience? In an era of innovation and uncertainty, brands need providers who can help them adapt at pace, manage costs and meet new customer expectations. It’s happening in sectors from insurance to utilities to e-commerce & retail.
The usual example of how CX is changing is the switch to digital and multichannel in customer management, but there are other changes too. We’ll give you an example.
The traditional model in customer management is to focus on outbound customer sales and inbound customer care. But providers are rewriting the playbook, increasingly showing clients the value of outbound customer service. Campaigns have shown that disrupting the traditional model can simultaneously:
- reduce manual inbound calls, thereby reducing customer service costs
- increase self-service and self-care
- build customer spend and loyalty.
Success in the UK CMO market has traditionally been measured by size – number of agents, size of revenues.
But in the current ‘all-change’ environment, brands need to look beyond that for providers who can do things differently. End-to-end creativity, innovation, digital and data capabilities, scalability and flexibility – these are the qualities that will define CMO success in the UK in 2022 and beyond.