Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive shift in customer experience.
Where before it may have taken a back seat to price or enhanced features, today, customer experience is one of the key differentiators of a leading brand.
This is no exception to the new year, where brands will look to build strategy around a thriving CX program.
In this blog, to aid your efforts in tackling 2022 head-on, we’re taking a look at 6 customer experience trends to shape the upcoming year.
First, let’s get some context around the new trends by reviewing 2021.
2021 In Review
Although a somewhat tumultuous year, 2021 inevitably shaped the way businesses operate today and the years to come. In 2021, we reconfigured our strategies to combat the pandemic. Curbside pick-up made its first appearance, and businesses shifted focus to contactless channels for easy and effective communication.
Most prominently, however, we saw a massive shift in digital. Where 2020 was a year of reacting to the pandemic and learning new preferences, 2021 was the year of being proactive and adjusting digital strategies. Whether it be shifting entire businesses online, utilizing chatbots, offering contactless payment methods or communicating predominately on digital channels, digital experiences became a massive decision-making factor for customers.
Similarly, 2021, understandably so, saw the desire for transparency. 2020 was a year of deep reflection and changed the way customers show up in their lives and in purchase decisions. It created a need for deeper dialogue, open conversations with businesses and meeting preferences in a way that would drive change. The strategy then had to reflect more clear and concise messaging, in addition, businesses had to be readily available on the customer’s channel of choice.
As 2021 comes to a close and we embark on new strategies for growth, we urge you to keep connection and compassion top of mind. If this past year taught us anything it’s that listening to customers and understanding them is paramount to driving loyalty. We all have, in some capacity, been affected by the pandemic. Regardless of how you plan to strategize the new year, keeping compassion top of mind is essential for creating a prosperous new year.
5 Customer Experience Trends Shaping 2022
CX Becoming the Main Differentiator
Customer experience emerged in 2020 as a major differentiator for customers. In fact, businesses today, who prioritize customer experience and improve it, notice a sizeable return of an 80% increase in revenue.
During a time of uncertainty, customers have flocked to businesses that prioritize connection, comfort, and an understanding of their needs. When you listen, you stand out in a sea of competitors.
For 2022, customer experience will hold great precedence and become essential for success.
Keep in mind that the definition of a great customer experience is constantly redefining itself. Where once it was meeting customer needs, 2022 will highlight going above and beyond. For instance, if a customer uses Facebook for research, it not only means you should create a Facebook page but also use it as a communication channel to actively engage and request feedback. Using it as a channel for communication you can use tactics like referencing their name and making recommendations based on past purchases.
Incorporating Automation & Bots
As efficiency becomes more important for a business to meet customer experience expectations, the adoption of effective automation tools and conversational bots will take precedence.
In 2022, emerging in the form of webchat, in-store kiosks, and back-end automation workflows, the shift towards automation will continue to grow as it encourages greater efficiency, less error and a level of experience that is consistently met.
The key, however, to its adoption, is a balance between human connection and automation. Instead of simply adopting bots and automated tools, consider a strategy that compliments your current operations. This requires a deep understanding of operations and the journey your customer goes through and then using automation to work alongside it.
According to Accenture, 50% of global consumers stated the pandemic caused them to rethink their purpose and re-evaluate what’s important in life. Transparency had become a huge factor in brand selection for 2021 as customers grew accustomed to questioning brand motives and ethics in brand services and products.
In 2022 this will continue to evolve. Customers will become more inclined to learn about your operations, brand purpose and want to know the people behind your brand. This makes it imperative to open up dialogue to your customers in the new year. Offer communication channels and be readily available to answer questions in the moment.
Shift to Predominately Contactless
There’s no denying the massive impact the pandemic has had on customer communication. If we were going through a digital transformation before, the pandemic accelerated it tenfold.
Where contactless used to be an option for customer communication, today it’s vital for survival. Making the shift means understanding what contactless options suit your business and what customers are demanding. This will (unsurprisingly) be a major requirement for businesses moving forward as it ensures you’re meeting guidelines and restrictions that will continue to be in place come the new year.
With the pandemic’s impact on bottom lines, businesses today can’t afford to alienate customers or create barricades in customer communication. That’s why 2022 will focus on making communication efficient and effective by offering multiple channels.
That said, as new channels emerge, it becomes about adopting them in a cohesive fashion and delivering consistency. The whole essence of omni-channel is a unified experience, so before you adopt a plethora of channels, make sure you have the capacity to take them on and that verbiage on every channel reflects your typical brand presence.
While 2021 became the year of strategizing with the pandemic top of mind, the new year will be about putting strategy into practice and leading with exceptional experiences.
Customers today continue to feel the ripple effect of the pandemic, so whether you’re engaging in-person or online, you should expect a level of experience that is efficient and delivers compassion. 2022 won’t only be about leveraging the latest and greatest in technology but rather strategizing and utilizing that technology to present a cohesive brand identity.