Five Customer Experience Trends to Watch for in 2022 M4 Communications

Five Customer Experience Trends to Watch for in 2022

Welcome to M4 Communications’ Five Customer Experience Trends to Watch for in 2022.

As we normally do before we dive into this year’s trends, we take a look at the state of Customer Experience last year.

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State of CX in 2021

2021 was about issues in the supply chain.

The only thing customers could depend on was their deliveries would be late.

According to Emma Sutton, chief customer officer at EMEA Business Transformation Oracle Consulting, research suggested the supply chain crisis would be ongoing.

“It’s clear: the supply chain crisis is showing no end in sight. But this is only causing further disdain as consumers’ patience begins to thin and their brand loyalty to wane. In fact, research from Oracle found 9 in 10 UK consumers (91%) are worried this disruption is here to stay and 74% of people say that future delays could cause them to cut ties with their favorite brands permanently – a lose-lose situation.” 

According to Oracle, 85% of young Britons say they’d rather buy a product from a different brand than wait for their preferred-brand product to arrive. In the U.S., the feeling’s mutual. According to McKinsey, 70% reported changing brands or retailers because of stockouts.

It also seemed that profits-first for many companies trumped customers-first.

Many consumers complained that brands increased their prices. Companies cite that the cost of doing business is rising. But they are asking customers to foot the bill in an effort to protect their bottom lines from inflation and COVID-19 pandemic costs, and their stock prices. That clearly did not create a great customer experience especially since companies weren’t as transparent as they once were. What some brands have forgotten is transparency drives customer trust which drives company performance.

And when Wall Street overshadows Main Street, customers will leave.

Companies also made digital-first more important than customers-first.

Before firing digital on all cylinders, a company needs to plan how to use technology to improve its CX programs by asking three key questions:

-what is the purpose of the new technology in our organization?

-what is the business and customer problem we’re trying to solve with the technology?

-How will this technology improve our customer’s experience?

That didn’t happen.

Instead, companies focused on staying competitive and that required new digital strategies and practices.

There is no surprise that IDC estimates that global CX tech spending will reach $641B in 2022. 

But as Gartner found that even though organizations are accelerating digital transformation to align with growth and profitability, it also noted “the transformation journey is taking large enterprises especially at least twice as long and costing twice as much as they originally anticipated.” Gartner said in large part it had to do with cultural readiness – “53% of the organizations surveyed remain untested in the face of digital challenge and their digital transformation readiness therefore uncertain.” 

And Conga, in its recent report, found that while almost three-quarters of companies surveyed were accelerating digital transformation initiatives, only 50% of those initiatives were successful. 

Forrester, in its 2022 Predictions, believes that “75% of efforts to create automated, personalized engagement won’t meet ROI goals because of inadequate buyer insight. In 2022, only 10% of B2B organizations will identify metrics to measure the value created for buyers during the buying process.”

Customer service wait times continue to increase.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waited 15 minutes and longer for a customer service rep in 2021.

Not too long ago, American Express found that customers’ threshold for waiting for a customer service rep was 13 minutes. Even before the pandemic, that threshold was at two minutes.

Wait times are a reliable leading indicator of customer satisfaction. The longer the wait times, the more likely a customer is to leave you and go to your competitor.

The pandemic elevated customer expectations.

Salesforce says two-thirds of customers expect companies to know their needs and expections, more than three-quarters of customers expect consistent interactions along their journey, almost 90% expect accelerated digital initiatives, 70% expect brands to demonstrate empathy, and 86% expect transparency.

Zendesk, in its 2022 CX Trends report, found that more than 60% of customers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience. In the case of more than one bad experience, 80% will leave.

To add to that, Duncan Spanner, managing director, UK & Ireland at Quadient, predicts the following in 2022:  

Almost three quarters (70%) of consumers will blacklist businesses for communication failures including sending spam, using the pandemic to excuse poor customer service, and getting basic information wrong.

-Customers will abandon companies they don’t trust with their personal data. Quadiant found almost half of consumers share personal data with companies they don’t trust. During the pandemic, they felt they had no choice.

-Customers are less willing to wait for more authentication. Speed is of the essence for customers and they will switch to someone who offers quicker service.

Brands also need to consider whether their values align with their customers and would-be customers. 83% of millennials want brands to align with them on values to be able to do business with them.

So what’s in store for 2022?

Let’s take a look at the five customer experience trends to watch for in 2022.

Five Customer Experience Trends to Watch for in 2022

These five customer experience trends to watch for in 2022 can help brands drive customer experience and growth.

CX Trend 1: Employee Experience and Employee Engagement are now must-haves.

If the Great Resignation taught us anything it was that job loyalty is a thing of the past. The Great Resignation started as a movement in 2021 for workers in the uncertainty caused by the pandemic to rethink their careers, working conditions, and long-term goals. It’s a growing trend for workers to leave their existing jobs to find more meaningful work with more flexibility – when and where they work – that would lead to a better work-life balance.

This is a wake-up call for employers. And it serves as a great opportunity for employers to create a better experience for employees.

Just as customer expectations are evolving, so are employee expectations. And, just like customers, if employees’ expectations aren’t being met, they will leave to go to a competitor.

Workers want to work for employers that align with their values, according to Blue Beyond Consulting. It found that it was important for 80% of North American workers that company values were consistent with their own. 

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 60% of those looking to leave want employers who are a better fit with their values.

But aligned values isn’t the only matter.

Employees want to be heard and their feedback acted on; they want employers to care about their physical and their mental health; they want resources and programs to help them be successful at their jobs; and possibly most important, they want to have a sense of purpose. Employees want fulfilling work where leadership provides them with opportunities to contribute and grow, they are involved in the company’s vision and direction and understand how they fit into those plans, and the company expresses gratitude for them, values them, and recognizes their accomplishments.

Working with a sense of purpose boosts productivity, morale, and overall job satisfaction. When employees are fulfilled, they thrive. According to Mercer, thriving employees are three times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose.

This leads to happier employees. When they are happier, they engage more, and customers notice. Engaged employees positively affect the customer’s experience.

It’s vital that companies focus on the employee experience and engagement if they want to survive and thrive. Companies succeed and grow with an aligned culture, employee experience, and customer experience.

CX Trend 2: It’s Do or Die Time for CX to Align to Business Outcomes

In its 2022 Predictions, Forrester said that “digital transformation” efforts will drop. That doesn’t mean tech acceleration will slow. It says that digital transformation will shift to smarter IT investments to demonstrate business value and to equip employees with automation and predictions engines that focus on outcomes.

According to Forrester, “this shift will establish a new era of transformation comprising human-centered technology initiatives that form a tight link between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX), drive competitive advantage, and deliver a 3% to 5% net gain in productivity.”

It is now time that CX programs prove their mettle in optimizing customer’s experiences and influencing business outcomes. This is what CX leaders need to show their CTO if they are to get their CX technology projects funded.

The CTO is looking at value – what technology investments are going to make the biggest mark on the company’s ability to achieve desired business outcomes while delivering the best ROI. 

But ROI isn’t the only consideration.

To introduce new technologies or new vendors, we need to ask the hard questions – how does CX help achieve desired business outcomes? How is CX responsible for customers sticking around, increasing customer value and driving growth?

Time to value is equally important. Time to value (TTV) is similar to ROI but instead of realizing the financial success, it implies realizing effectiveness or the benefits of a solution. 

What this comes down to is CX maturity. Sadly CX maturity is stuck. Before the pandemic, Qualtrics XM Institute (formerly Temkin Group), in it’s annual survey of CX maturity, found only 6% of global respondents at the highest stage of its maturity model. In those organizations, CX is a mindset, engrained in a company’s DNA, so that the CX vision is aligned across the organization.

There hasn’t been a lot of forward momentum. Recently, Zendesk commissioned ESG to conduct research on the state of CX maturity. ESG found that only 13% of global organizations achieved CX champion status. 

So, CX leaders must move the CX maturity needle in their own organizations. 

CX leaders must educate the C-suite, understand who they are, and communicate in a language that resonates and builds trust. And then doing whatever it takes to align culture, employee experience, and customer experience across the organization. It takes time and effort. But doing the right things in the right way will produce a CX program that optimizes experiences and achieves business outcomes.

CX Trend 3: Content Will Become The CX Driver

Let’s face it – products and services are commodities. Many of them are so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart. To be honest, CX is the only differentiator. CX also provides a competitive advantage that enables companies to survive and thrive.

A great customer experience tends to have three elements – it provides customer value, it’s effortless to interact with the brand, and you just feel good engaging with the brand.

The customer value piece is at the top of the chain. For a customer to find you valuable, they need to trust you. Trust comes from you knowing everything about them, communicating in their language, showing them empathy, and giving them the tools they need to help them be more informed and successful.

This is what content is all about.

CX leaders don’t put enough emphasis on delivering the right content to the right person at the right point along the customer journey. Proper content placement is as important as where listening posts and friction points are on journey maps. Relevant content at the appropriate time also has been proven to improve performance metrics and reduce friction.

Delivering the right content also speeds up TTV. When you know your audience, the content they want, and deliver it at the right time, you attract the right people. And those people will convert much quicker. The benefits include increased brand equity, customer lifetime value, market share, and growth.

Companies should experiment with different types of content to engage with existing customers and new audiences. Focusing on VoC and sentiment analysis data can provide rich insights on the type of content people want.

CX Trend 4: Look at Personalization Through a Different Lens

According to Freshworks’ The Future of CX: 2022 report, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from businesses that offer more personalized experiences.

But, Twilio found that even though 85% of businesses said they were offering personalized experiences, only 60% of consumers think that’s the case.

Forrester, in its 2022 Predictions report, noted leaders “need to instill customer centricity into planning and execution processes to meet personalization goals.”

Are companies asking their customers what they want? Or are they still taking that inside-out approach believing what their customers believe personalization is is really what customers want?

Companies need to double and triple-down on their VoC data. They need to find out what customers want and give it to them. Twilio found that 70% of consumers appreciate personalization as long as it is what they shared with the company directly. Consumers want personalization as long as it is what they communicated they want.

But there is a problem. For many companies, data is siloed to be able to deliver on personalization. Gartner notes that “by 2022, 50% of large organizations will have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in a disjointed and siloed customer experience that lacks context.” This comes down to CX maturity and how aligned business teams and processes are to the CX vision.

To be able to be successful in personalization, companies can’t patchwork personalization in based on profits and competitive edge. They must have a clearly defined personalization strategy. Again this comes down to use cases and the desires of customers. Thus, once you are clear on purpose and the wishes of your customers, you make more strategically sound decisions on the technology that will deliver on personalization.

CX Trend 5: Customer Trust Will Make/Break Brands

While customer trust tends to retreat more and more – Salesforce recently found that less than 50% of consumers trust companies – customer trust is not only about knowing the customer and delivering on their expectations.

Customers shared more personal data during the pandemic because they felt they had to. Times are a-changing. Now they are becoming more intelligent on data security and privacy and are reluctant to provide personal data to just anyone. Therefore, businesses that publish their data policies and practices, take on stringent data protection measures, obtain customer consent for data use and use customer data wisely, will earn customer trust, drive customer lifetime value, and grow quickly.

Transparency is also vital. A company should be transparent, in general. Not only when there is a crisis, like a data breach. The more transparent a brand is, the more consumers trust that brand. According to Label Insight, 94% of consumers said they’d be more loyal to brands that offered transparency.

Were these five customer experience trends to watch for in 2022 the ones on your list?

What are your five customer experience trends to watch for in 2022? Let us know in the comments.

Have a question on how your company can be more customer-centric, or how to start or optimize your existing CX program, contact us.

And for any of you who want to learn more about CX, join #CXChat on Twitter every Wednesday at 11am PT/2pm ET/7pm GMT.

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