Three CX practitioners look into the crystal ball, predicting future megatrends
The rise of hyper-personalization, conversational AI, and digital-first experiences has profoundly impacted our day-to-day customer experiences.
Yet, time does not stand still. New trends will emerge that push CX even further. Understanding these as they come to the fore and planning ahead differentiates forward-thinking CX practitioners.
Thankfully, three such CX leaders took to the virtual stage at Kustomer NEXT 2022, discussing “CX trends for the next five years and beyond”. They were:
With their fingers on the pulse, these industry experts shared their latest learnings from the fast-paced CX world, helping attendees to stay ahead of the curve.
In doing so, they each painted a picture of what to expect from the future of CX, making a series of predictions. Here are five of the most eye-catching examples.
By 2026, almost 30 percent of companies will have “metaverse-ready products and services”, predicts Gartner.
The trend “excites” Holden, believing the rise of the metaverse in CX will stem from a more general principle of “meeting customers where they are and where they will be.”
In doing so, many brands are already turning to the metaverse for CX innovation. Nike, Hyundai, and Ralph Lauren are all excellent examples, using the platform to develop virtual reality storefronts, product demos, and even gaming experiences for customers.
As the field evolves, businesses will also likely start turning metaverse experiences into products, while – more simply – it may also become a customer engagement channel.
However, perhaps companies can monitor this channel with AI-powered digital humans, as conversational AI evolves into something out of an Orwell novel.
Digital disruptors are a force snapping at the heels of several stalwart brands across many sectors. The banking industry is an excellent example. 2022 figures from the UK Financial Conduct Agency reveal that “digital disruptors” now occupy 8% of the market, rising from 1% in 2018.
Yet, traditional players are starting to fight back. How? By accentuating the human factor in CX. Indeed, some banks are pooling together branch and contact center staff into a flexible resource pool, which supercharges the human element in CX.
Such approaches are likely to become commonplace, according to Langston, as they “take away the rigidity that we’ve had in the past.” She also predicts “more colloquial trends, conversational support, and personalization.”
However, with such a sweeping change in vision, a culture change is also necessary to support new customer experiences, where humans play the role of a positive differentiator. According to Langston, this starts by “Making sure you understand what your teams are doing, so your decisions are based in reality.”
Indeed, hands-on leadership is the order of the day. Sharing advice for establishing such an approach in the contact center, Skey says:
“Work side-by-side. Open up a video chat and take calls while working with a teammate. Find those opportunities to build connections with the team.”
Skey also recommends giving the team “permission to be real”, training the team to relate instead of giving off-the-cuff apologies. Why? “Because it resonates so much more and opens up the conversation,” she concludes.
Through collaboration, various functions can build alliances and power transformation across the enterprise. Such a principle lies at the heart of “total experience”.
Expect this trend to gain ground as it connects the enterprise with a shared vision of not only CX but employee experience (EX) and user experience (UX). In doing so, it enables brands to develop a coherent identity, only possible through deep collaboration.
Such a trend should not only sidestep from one department to another but – as Langston reminds us – it must also climb up the corporate chain. She says:
“Build relationships with the c-suite and bring the data to them. Don’t be afraid to highlight issues. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The CX function is the voice, and new positions that we haven’t seen before, such as Head of Voice of the Customer, are emerging.”
Building on this point, Langston adds: “Find out where you can provide different departments with the information they don’t have. Make everyone part of the customer support team.”
Such a strategy aligns with recommendations from Forrester, as the analyst recomends building an insights engine with data and marketing teams. CX teams can distribute this critical information and use it as collaboration rocket fuel to break down customer journey siloes.
Speech, text, and sentiment analysis are creating a buzz across the CX space. Yet, many of these programs are still in the early stages of development. Few companies harness insights from their CRM, ERP, and customer data platforms to their full potential and proactively provide contextual customer journeys.
Hyper-personalization strategies are a force for good here, alongside prioritizing customer issues by harnessing data and feedback to quantify customer emotion and necessity.
Such use cases will gain prominence as companies consolidate data, creating a central stream of insights that AI tools can harvest to enhance customer journeys with further context.
To maximize the value of such a strategy, it is critical to combine internal and external data. For the latter, Skey says: “Third-party review sites are providing excellent insights for us.” Meanwhile, prominent CCaaS vendors are also enabling access to large data centers for deeper analysis.
Approaches to internal data collection are also advancing as customer behaviors evolve. Robinson says: “It’s changing from posts on walls to Instagram DMs. We are also seeing more feedback in our app store reviews.” Meanwhile, social listening technologies aid this collection process, spanning the web for voice of the customer data and transforming it into powerful visual insights.
Already, this trend is taking shape. Indeed, 2021 Call Centre Helper research suggests that only 21.3% of organizations view the contact center as a “cost center” – down from 29.4% in 2019.
Perhaps the escalating significance of the human factor in CX for stalwart brands is a significant factor here – alongside a growing recognition of the value that contact center insights hold.
Yet, maybe it also represents a shift in brands recognizing the increasing opportunity for sales that comes with a digitally mature CX and proactive contact center.
Setting the scene for such profit opportunities, Langford states:
“Our social media has exploded, including Facebook and Instagram. Flooding the inboxes… Messaging is going to become a bigger part of our world too, which makes sense in a world of instant gratification.”
Such a climate paves the path for contact center sales teams to thrive. To do so, the Harvard Business Review recommends a four-pronged strategy:
Building such a strategy into its operational fabric sets the sales department at the heart of the enterprise, ensuring that the c-suite recognizes its potential for profit.
Get ready for the digital-first future of CX by accessing even more insights and actionable tips from Kustomer NEXT 2022.
As the leading CRM vendor promises: the “you-of-tomorrow” will be eternally grateful.”