This is an excerpt from our recent ebook, CX Trends & Predictions for 2023: Seeking Stability. Grab the full report here.
It’s been over two years since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, and it’s clear that many changes that were hastily made out of necessity have been cemented as a new standard. It’s no longer “the new way” – it’s “the” way – and companies who don’t adapt and move forward risk being left behind.
Companies are responding quickly to evolving customer expectations – and the bar is high. According to a 2022 Broadridge report, 65% of consumers believe brands they do business with need to improve their customer experience, up from 35% in 2019. And of the thousands of consumers surveyed, 77% said they would spend more money with a company that
provides a good customer experience.
But what makes a “good customer experience” in 2023? What changes do consumers expect to stay as we adjust to the new normal?
Here are key pandemic-born CX trends that have staying power.
Banks have closed brick-and-mortar locations and will continue to turn to digital channels over physical ones. E-Commerce is predicted to reach $8.3 trillion per year by 2025. And retailers have embraced a hybrid structure with in-store and curbside pickup available for everything from groceries to hardware.
The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation that was already taking place, and now, the digital customer experience is the customer experience. What’s more, the shift to digital has been embraced by all generations, including baby boomers. CX professionals need to hone in on creating exceptional, highly relevant online experiences for their businesses to thrive.
Customers expect a seamless omnichannel experience.
Part of the digital transformation is creating a seamless experience across every touchpoint, allowing customers to move easily from one channel to another and have one unified brand experience. Customer demand will continue to push companies toward an omnichannel approach, which requires cross-functionality with CX, technology, data, and marketing.
In retail, this means curbside and “click and collect” shopping. Banks are redesigning branches to focus on more complex products, and leveraging video conferencing and screen sharing with remote teams. And customer service across all industries will offer options and fluidity, allowing a consistent experience for customers who flow between channels (social media, chat, email, in-person, etc.).
Consumers demand flexibility.
With smartphones, the world is at our fingertips and we demand to do everything from the palm of our hands. Americans check their phones constantly – 344 times per day – and the average American spent nearly a month and a half (44 days) on their phones in 2022.
What does that mean for businesses? It means that the stakes are high and the expectations are higher. Friction needs to be removed at every touchpoint. Customers should feel like they are getting exactly what they need, when they need it, in a way that feels effortless. There’s a need for access, speed, and ease.
Video has taken the lead – especially in communication.
“Zoom” has become a common verb, and we’re meeting virtually face-to-face for work, social events, classes, doctors’ appointments, and customer service interactions. The COVID-19 pandemic fueled this surge: the web and video conferencing category for business technology saw a 500% increase in buyer activity since the pandemic began.
This rapid adoption means that many consumers are now accustomed to communicating via video conference, which presents opportunities for CX enhancements. Sales and customer service professionals can deliver face-to-face digital consultation and guidance, which can drive customer satisfaction and build loyalty and trust.
Brand trust is paramount.
Consistency, honesty, and transparency are the foundation upon which brand trust is built. Consumers want to know what to expect. If and when those expectations aren’t met, they want to know why (and they aren’t buying the smoke and mirrors).
Communication is key. A recent report identified that one winning strategy to earn that trust is personal digital engagement. This isn’t a surprise considering that much of our world has gone digital. By making a personal connection at every touchpoint, the customer relationship becomes an ongoing conversation rather than a string of disjointed one-offs. Investing in digital engagement tools can help companies improve the digital customer experience to establish and build trust.
There are more open lines of communication with customers.
A survey of over 2,000 leaders found that nearly 60% of CX teams added additional customer feedback touchpoints during COVID-19 – most notably via email, website, customer calls, chat, in-app, and in-person. Listening to and responding to customer feedback will continue to be important as CX leaders work to create more personalized experiences.
Perhaps above all, the pandemic has taught us that we need to be adaptable. The world has changed and continues to change, and CX-focused companies that evolve and grow with their customers will come out on top.
To explore key trends and predictions for 2023, plus five important questions to ask your team to develop your CX strategy, download our 2023 trends report: