It was supposed to be a year of growth and recovery, but 2022 has thrown unforeseen obstacles in our path and prompted us to once again find new ways to adapt. And adapt we must. It’s in this environment that we look ahead to 2023, as we anticipate the continued evolution of Customer Experience (CX) and the changing business landscape. Here are some of the trends we’re expecting to see.
Innovation driving efficiency
We already expect to spend most, if not all, of 2023 in recession. According to the Bank of England, it will be the longest financial slump since records began. It’s inevitable that this will affect the way businesses plan for the year ahead. According to a survey of 42,000 businesses across Europe, confidence for 2023 is at a historic low, with the war in Ukraine, high energy costs, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic being felt.
It almost goes without saying that businesses will be cautious about how and where they invest in 2023. But, in most cases, that won’t mean canceling their plans for innovation, particularly if they can introduce solutions that make them more efficient. Next year, businesses will eschew speculative investments and seek out tools that will enable them to drive competitive edge in both the short- and long-term. In particular, they will look for tools that help them improve workflows and outputs while unlocking new growth opportunities. From a CX perspective that could mean investing in consolidating customer service tools to strategically position the CX operation from being a cost centre to a profit driver.
Insights not intuition – the move towards data-led CX
Customer-focused organizations increasingly use data to inform their business, products, and services. Next year we expect to see them bringing together more data points from more areas of the business to enable them to make better, bolder decisions based on insights rather than intuition. By breaking down silos and coordinating sales, new business, and marketing functions, businesses will realize they already have a lot more data available to them than they first thought. Customers and businesses will both win out because of more intimate and personalized relationships.
As organizations look for quick wins and shorter return on investment (ROI) timescales, they will seek to roll out solutions and insights faster. They will likelylook for a reduced developer burden, while maintaining options to personalize their offering. This will lead them to look for ready-to-run Software as a Service (SaaS) tools that still enable them to tweak settings and roll out solutions that reflect the uniqueness of their business and their customer requirements. The most successful will be those that test and improve that offering more regularly by consulting the data they have.
A new era for AI
Related to the previous points, a need for greater efficiency will drive businesses to look for smarter ways to operate. As companies balance the need to safeguard agents’ wellbeing with the need to improve outputs without increasing headcounts, we’ll see a growing move towards automation.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) still isn’t perfect, but there has been tremendous progress over the past few years. And indeed, many businesses will have already rolled out some AI-based solutions. We expect next year will be a pivotal year for AI. It will become an essential part of the customer journey, providing a better experience for both customers and agents. AI is already great at being reactive, and providing recommendations and predictions. Its future strength will come in being proactive and preventative, and knowing what customers want even before they ask.
Over the next 12 months, we should expect to see firms overcome the initial kinks in their existing AI deployments and become braver in the way they use AI to offer a better, more personalized service to customers.
Conversational CX grows in influence
With our friends and family, we have free-flowing conversations. Sometimes, these conversations take place on the phone, sometimes on social media, sometimes on WhatsApp. CRM is starting to become conversational too, and next year, we’ll see more businesses communicating with customers in more natural ways and on a broader scope of channels. And these conversations will flow between channels that are able to hand-off between each other.
We can also expect firms to create more immersive experiences that offer better value for both the business and customers. This could include live shopping that drives engagement on social media and opens up social channels for CX teams to outreach directly to customers. This will create new revenue streams and help businesses better deliver the experiences their customers want, exactly when and where they want them.
Conversational service creates richer and more proactive experiences across every stage of the customer lifecycle. What’s more, it’s becoming more important to customers. Over 70% of customers now expect conversational service every time they engage with a brand, according to the Zendesk CX Trends 2022 report. So, whether it’s someone thinking about booking a table at a local restaurant, getting support for an item they’ve already ordered, or being rewarded for their loyalty to a business with voucher codes, they can all be driven by conversations that feel personal and more fulfilling.
The year ahead isn’t going to be easy for businesses looking to grow revenues and relationships with customers. However, if history taught us anything, it is that in the leanest times, we can still be abundant in innovation. And innovation will be the doorway to new approaches and ideas. The encouraging thing is that the tools are evolving and in many ways are accessible to any business that wants to use them. Technology is helping us to be smarter. And at a time when organizations aren’t flush with cash, smarter is the best thing to be.