Customer experience is a concept that's always evolving, and in the last two years, it's developed faster than ever before. Everything from how a customer perceives a brand to what they want and expect from their interactions with it has undergone a drastic shift.
According to data from Forrester, customers want brands to continue more than half of the new services they started offering during the pandemic and this will be a key factor in their decision whether to stay with that company in the future. It's increasingly important for businesses to look out for and adapt to these kind of changes, and what could be a better time to plan your CX strategy than at the start of a new year?
Here are five trends in customer experience you need to watch out for in 2022.
1. The increasing importance of Employee Experience in CX
You've probably heard about employee experience. Employee experience is analogous to customer experience, but concerned with the employee, rather than the customer.
Employee experience (EX) is the result of all the interactions an employee has with their company during their time at the company. This includes a whole range of factors, including the onboarding processes, organizational culture, work environment, leadership, HR, and the software tools used by the company.
Employee experience has a direct effect on the customer experience. When your employees are happy, satisfied, and have a positive work experience, they are more productive and efficient, which enhances the customer experience they provide.
Let's say you remotely onboard a customer service agent for your company. The new employee is fresh out of college and has no prior experience in the field. You enable a swift onboarding, include comprehensive training programs, and teach them how to use your business tools. Your team is welcoming and always ready to help the new employee with any challenge they may face. You value the employee's efforts, show them you appreciate their achievements, and support them through any challenges. All of this leads to a positive EX, which improves the employee's performance, resulting in a better customer experience.
As the world moves towards a hybrid-work model, maintaining a strong EX away from physical offices will be a key factor in determining whether employees value your company and choose to stay with your business long term, which directly contributes to your CX.
Key Takeaway: Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your customers. One really important way to take care of your staff is to implement business tools that are easy-to-use, flexible, and scale as your business grows as employees often struggle to adapt to new tools. Your tools should enable seamless inter-team collaboration and smooth data flow between departments so your employees are always informed and can go about their work effectively.
2. The move towards hyper-personalization
Greeting customers by their names in emails or remembering their birthdays definitely has a positive effect on customer experience. But customers today are no longer impressed by that. They expect highly personalized experiences every time they engage with a business, and they already know that businesses have tools to achieve this.
Leveraging real-time customer data such as their website behavior, search results, purchase history, most active times, and past interactions with your business can help you develop a deeper understanding of their needs and hyper-personalize their experience. This can be anything from customizing your website based on customer activity to intelligently recommending products, or reaching out to customers with individualized offers and rewards at the right moment.
Key Takeaway: As more companies start competing primarily based on CX, 2022 will see a gradual move towards hyper-personalized experiences and the brands that are able to provide those experiences consistently will stay relevant and increase customer happiness over time. Achieving this shouldn't be difficult with modern CX platforms with advanced AI and data analytics capabilities that help you slice and dice customer data and gather meaningful insights.
3. Data security and privacy
As customers share more and more personal data in exchange for highly personalized experiences, the emphasis on data security and privacy will only increase this year. As more data privacy regulations similar to EU-GDPR are introduced around the globe, businesses that adhere to these laws, uphold stringent data protection measures, and make the right use of customer data will earn customer trust and grow quickly.
Here are some privacy and security measures that you can follow to gain customer trust:
- Obtain customer consent to use their data for marketing such as sending promotional emails or newsletters. This helps reassure them that you value their privacy.
- Use customer data judiciously. Never compromise on customer data for business growth.
- Use business tools that adhere to industry-accepted security standards such as ISO 27001 or SOC 2.
- In the event of a data breach, inform customers promptly and be as transparent as you can about what went wrong, the actions you've taken to retrieve the data, and how you intend to avoid this happening in the future.
Key Takeaway: As the world continues its digital transformation, privacy and security will be critical factors in determining whether you win or lose customers. To earn customer loyalty and improve their brand reputation, businesses must constantly monitor, evaluate, and update their data protection and privacy measures.
4. A cohesive omnichannel experience
The idea of an omnichannel experience has been a popular topic in customer experience discussions for years. But that doesn't mean that brands have done anything about it. In fact, according to Gartner, "by 2022, 50% of large organizations will have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in a disjointed and siloed customer experience that lacks context."
A customer's experience with a business spans multiple channels such as social media, email, live chat, and surveys, and the number of channels is only going to grow, raising the stakes for a seamless and connected omnichannel experience. Being available on different channels is one thing, delivering frictionless and continuous experiences across those channels is quite another. Teams need to be able to switch between channels swiftly and pick up conversations where a different channel left off with complete context in order to deliver a cohesive experience.
Key Takeaway: In 2022, omnichannel will be about more than just brand visibility; other factors such as your brand voice, tone, consistent messaging, and how you serve customers across these platforms will become more important and contribute to building stronger customer relationships.
5. Unification of customer-facing functions
The future of customer experience will not be restricted to one team or department, it will depend on collaborative, inter-departmental, and cross-functional teamwork. Sales, marketing, service, product, and other operational teams will need to work in harmony to deliver the unified experiences that customers want. Remember that customer experience is a series of interactions throughout the customer journey and all the departments in your organization are connected.
Your tech stack will play a vital role in helping you achieve this harmony. Tech stacks that centralize customer data, facilitate collaboration, are customizable and scalable, and offer a robust range of integration and security features will eventually replace traditional systems and help businesses thrive in the customer experience-driven digital world.
Key Takeaway: 2022 will see more unification of customer-facing functions and an increasing adoption of unified tech solutions as more brands will look to eliminate data silos and move away from the point-solution chaos that's holding back their CX strategy.
So that brings us to the end of our customer experience trends for 2022. Thank you for taking the time to read this. We hope you found the information useful and learned something new.
If you feel we have missed something or if you'd like us to know about a trend that you think will be important in 2022, you can let us know about it in the comments below.
Happy new year!