Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, customer experience (CX) is more important than ever. In fact, 59% of consumers now care more about CX when they decide what company to support or buy from than they did pre-pandemic. In 2021, businesses began to rise to the challenge; according to a recent Forrester study, the majority of brands either improved or maintained their customer experience during the pandemic. 2022 will be no different. As we prepare to usher in the new year, here are the three CX trends I predict will take off.
Broader diversity of contact center technology
Today’s contact center marketplace is growing rapidly. In fact, the sector is expected to reach $496 billion in revenue by 2027. Under this broad umbrella, there are a variety of technologies—phone trees, chatbots, intelligent virtual assistants, and more—that can help businesses achieve their unique CX goals. In 2022, I’m looking forward to seeing an even more expanded array of options.
No matter their most important criteria—whether it involves technology that assists a live agent, or technology that’s assisted by a live agent—businesses will have more options than ever when it comes to selecting a system that works best for them, and for their customers. In fact, as companies continue to integrate AI-powered technology into their CX channels, we might see entirely new types of these applications come to life. Ultimately, this new and improved breadth of options will ensure that customers get the quality customer experiences they deserve.
While options have increased dramatically, not all technologies are created equal. It will be all the more important for brands to focus on providing meaningful interactions for their customers
Unprecedented levels of personalization
Customers’ expectations for modern, efficient CX are rising, especially when it comes to personalization. Given that 72% of consumers expect companies to know their purchase history—regardless of the method of communication—and two-thirds of consumers report that the most frustrating aspect of customer service is waiting on hold or having to explain the same information to multiple representatives, I predict that the personalization trend will only continue into 2022.
As such, it’s imperative for companies to invest in the right technology to ensure seamless, tailored CX. AI-powered assistants can help: by integrating seamlessly with existing systems, these intelligent virtual assistants can gather a customer’s prior information and data points—plus their unique preferences and needs—without missing a beat. The end result? Businesses can showcase that they remember their customers, and customers feel cared for, increasing their loyalty.
A new role for live agents
As customer experiences continue to digitize—particularly with the use of intelligent virtual assistants—the role of the call center agent will change. While today’s status quo is a system where technology supports live agents, I expect that next year, we’ll witness a switch wherein live agents instead begin to support the technology. This shift will ultimately become the catalyst for better CX across the board, ensuring that customers have efficient, comfortable experiences that keep them coming back for more.
How does this work in practice? The real estate industry offers a good example. My company’s podcast recently featured Redfin, a real estate brokerage that leverages AI to make the home buying and selling process easier, faster, and less stressful. They initially built an algorithm that could suggest homes for customers, but quickly realized that they needed to allow agents to manually add or remove a home from the suggestion list, since agents were the ones that knew the nuances of their customers’ preferences. Today, the company leverages AI as a staple component of their technology stack, but also makes sure to add human insight where appropriate to ensure that customers receive the most tailored results possible. In 2022, customer service could see a similar paradigm shift—one where AI and humans collaborate in new and impactful ways.
The end of the year is typically a time for both reflection and future planning. So as 2021 comes to a close, companies should recognize and lean into these three trends in preparation for the new year. If they do, customer experiences could look a whole lot different, and be significantly more efficient, by the time December rolls around next year.