The customer experience (CX) is a primary driver of competitiveness for more than two-thirds of companies. The recent rise in CX is unsurprising, considering how demanding consumers are today. The proliferation of convenient services during the pandemic, such as telehealth, food delivery apps, and others, was the catalyst for consumers’ shifting attitudes.
Zendesk reports that a positive experience will drive a future purchase decision for more than 80% of customers, but 61% would end their relationship with a company after just one negative interaction.
Moreover, inflation and staffing shortages exacerbate an already challenging situation for businesses. Inflation is driving a significant market change, forcing brands to do more with less — yet cutting back on CX can be difficult because budget and headcount constraints may be more visible to customers.
However, by executing wisely and investing in communication automation and artificial intelligence services, companies can avoid negative impacts on revenue growth while improving CX.
Here are five CX trends businesses can anticipate for 2023 and how they can capitalize on each.
1. Improve Employee Experience To Move Customer Experience
Recent developments, like the Great Resignation, have drawn attention to the idea that CX and employee experience (EX) are more closely intertwined than previously believed. Now, any strategy to enhance CX begins with improving EX.
Prioritizing the needs of employees is particularly important today, as many companies have had to reduce their staff size in the wake of today’s economic uncertainties. Similarly, burnout is on the rise. A study from Asana found that around 70% of people underwent burnout in 2021.
Concerningly, burnout was highest among Gen Z and millennials at 84% and 74%, respectively; McKinsey also found that 25% of Gen Z and 13% of millennials reported distress and decreased well-being.
Companies should invest in digital tools to support employees to compensate for diminished staff levels and worsening burnout. Additionally, brands should strive to boost morale and address difficult issues, not shying away from tough conversations.
By increasing feedback opportunities for improvements and developing productivity plans, teams will become more effective, efficient, and motivated. Nevertheless, companies must leverage automation and the internal flow of information to support these employee-centric initiatives.
2. Increase the Level of Empathetic Engagement With Customers
In these trying times, it is also paramount that brands increase empathetic engagement with customers. Everyone is experiencing stress, from the lingering hardships of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine to global supply issues and inflation-induced increases in the cost of borrowing for homes, cars, credit, etc.
With consumer spending growth expected to decrease in 2023 and non-essential spending dropping, there will be fewer interactions between customers and businesses, meaning fewer opportunities to build relationships. Every experience will matter, so brands need to plan accordingly to drive a positive CX whenever possible.
Businesses can help their customer service and support teams achieve the best outcomes consistently by equipping them with the proper training and digital tools. Similarly, companies must recognize that they can inadvertently create confusion and strain for customers as they shift to more efficient and new business methods, such as digital communication channels such as chatbots or social messaging like WhatsApp.
To minimize these issues, brands can increase communications for these changes internally and externally, which will help employees be ready to “make it right” quickly when there is an unintended impact on a customer.
3. More Self-Service Options
Consumers want to be more efficient with their time during this current season of high inflation. One of the ways people prefer to save time when they have a business-related problem or question is by solving it themselves.
Research shows that 70% of customers want the ability to find answers and information on their own terms. Brands can capitalize on this opportunity to boost CX by giving their clients more self-service options and features, including product FAQs, short-form video tutorials, AI-powered chat, and messaging and automated contact centers.
If businesses already have such offerings, they should revisit their self-service channels, adjusting where necessary; they can also rethink interactive voice responses, intelligent virtual assistants, and chatbots to ensure these solutions continually add value.
Likewise, because all these new channels and self-service tools continue to make the customer journey more complex, brands must work to remove friction to ensure that CX isn’t impacted negatively during transitions between channels.
By implementing an omnichannel strategy, businesses can support seamless handoffs from digital self-service interactions to voice calls with a human agent without forcing the customer to repeat themselves.
4. Employee Enablement and Augmentation
Amid the economic recession and diminished workforces, brands must focus on employee enablement and augmentation through technology solutions like automation and AI, which can help companies offset low staff levels without sacrificing CX.
Businesses can also reduce the workload on understaffed agents by leveraging intelligent virtual assistants to automate the most common and routine customer use cases, like checking a balance, updating a password, or tracking a package. These solutions would give agents more time and headspace to focus on complicated customer issues and other value-added tasks.
Similarly, companies should leverage internal “self-service” tools to help their customer service and support teams find customer accounts and query information quickly and efficiently. Automation and virtual assistants can also assist agents during customer calls by streamlining information lookups and giving them real-time suggestions based on past discussions.
Furthermore, companies can set up conversational AI capabilities to review and coach employees, transcription solutions to look for keywords and phrases in contact center conversations, and sentiment and tone analysis to detect and adapt to customer emotions.
5. Analytics With Context
Consumers today crave personalization and are 80% more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences.
However, consistently delivering these highly tailored interactions is impossible without data. Capturing data along the customer journey before the client connects with a live agent, whether by voice, chat, social media, or email, will give companies actionable insights, allowing them to enhance CX tremendously.
In addition to comprehensive and unified data-collecting tools and solutions, brands will also need an effective way of getting this all-important data to their contact center agents.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, proactive CX solutions will win the battle for customer engagement and loyalty, surpassing reactive strategies. Not only do today’s customers expect personalized brand interaction, but increasingly they want companies to resolve their issues before they ever happen.
Achieving this level of proactiveness will require brands to have tools, such as customer journey mapping tools and AI analytics, to respond accordingly to historical and real-time data.
While the economic challenges may not endure beyond 2023, the shifting attitudes and mounting customer expectations will continue far into the future. By equipping teams with the tools necessary for enabling a winning CX today, businesses can adequately prepare themselves to take full advantage of upcoming opportunities.