With businesses recognizing CX as the key to great customer relationship management (CRM), there has been a significant shift in how brands reach out to customers. A 10-point increase in the CX index could mean an increase in profits of 1 Billion USD . This has projected an investment of roughly 641 Billion USD on CX technologies in 2022.
Gone are the days when customers based their brand loyalty on products and pricing. Now, it’s the experience that matters. CX easily beat products and pricing as 45.9% of companies chose CX as their #1 customer priority. 86% customers agreed to pay more for a more satisfying experience. With this fact in focus, companies are already making a 70% increase in profits within 3 years of dedicated investment in customer experience. Besides the revenue projections, the top 3 reasons to continue to invest in CRM/CX are:
- To explore cross-selling and niche selling
- To improve retention of existing customers
- To focus on customer satisfaction
Prior to the pandemic, creating exciting and trendy customer experiences had a slow take. Brands always believed that if the product is good, it’ll sell. But the COVID-19 pandemic created a disruptive change that opened the market to everyone. Consumers have started gravitating towards the brands that provide them with the best customer experience, without nit-picking on the products or other associated aspects.
To provide the best, personalized CX and uninterrupted interaction with customers, companies have equipped their customer care personnel to work from home. All service-oriented sectors like banking went online and have created seamless experiences that are as close to walking physically into a bank could be. The entire process has transformed into a fully automated and contact-free experience.
With so much emphasis on CRM/CX, here are the top 9 trends that will shape the way customers respond to businesses in the year 2022.
1. Real-Time Data-Driven Experiences:
Nearly every business went online and created dedicated platforms for customers to access. These platforms are designed to capture user behaviour across their implementations and integrations.
More than 63% of marketing professionals agree on the fact that big data is critical to enhancing their CX. The stored data is used to create proactive, predictive, and prescriptive experiences.
With these advanced platforms, data collection and their data-driven decisions are made real-time. Customers are treated to personalized experiences that are crafted from their own data impressions. All this occurs in real-time and the data that’s collected plays a vital role in these experiences and decisions. Each individual customer is treated to a personalised experience that’s crafted from the data impressions they leave on the various platforms.
2. Humanized Digital Experiences:
Although hyper-individualized customer experiences have been successful in their intentions, the current generation of Gen X and Gen Z consumers have shown a clear preference for not just digital experiences, but rather a humanized experience.
Empathy as an experience is gaining traction and 50% of consumers are now opened to interacting with AI. At least 26% of them say they daily interact with AI. Empathetic interactions help businesses engage with their customers better.
With much of the interaction being automated, it takes clever design to project a human experience with artificial intelligence. There can be no compromise in investing in more intelligent chatbots that are as human as possible in engaging with the customers.
3. Device Agnostic Experiences:
To reach their marketing and revenue goals, businesses need to take the customer experience to the consumers. In the past 2 years over 53% of households have invested in smart assistants. Nearly every individual in the world has access to a handheld device. The customer experience needs to be on-the-go.
42% of consumers desire a seamless experience across their devices as they move through their day. To win their hearts, business must invest in cross-device experiences for multiple screen sizes, device types, etc. with responsive UI/UX.
With constant access to consumerism, customers also see instant gratification for their business interactions. These experiences need to be made available 24x7 across all and/or any devices.
4. Natural Language Processing (NLP) for Simplified Experiences:
Voice is and will continue to be the next big thing, especially as the pandemic accelerated the shift towards a hands-free and touch-free life. Voice became the control of choice as it eliminated the need to physically touch anything.
This has also made digital tech more accessible to people with disabilities. It expanded the customer base to a global scale with the creation of multi-lingual solutions. NLP is revolutionising CX and the market is expected reach 28.6 Billion USD by 2026. At least 52% of global IT companies reported already using NLP in enhancing their CX operations.
Voice processing and NLP have prompted the rise of video calling and conferencing. This replicates the experience of a physical interaction with the safety of no-contact protocols.
5. Virtual Metaverse Experiences:
An enhancement to the video calling and conferencing features is the metaverse. A whole new world on the digital plane that mimics real life. Using a combination of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and sensory gestures/inputs, some of the platforms offer customer experiences that feel just like the real thing with ground-breaking progress on experiences.
Companies like Microsoft, Epic, Roblox, Reality Labs, etc. are investing heavily into creating better CX in the metaverse. 58.9 Million Americans used VR devices at least once a month in 2021. Businesses can capitalize on this to render customer experiences that keep the consumers coming back for more.
A great metaverse experience would allow customers to move between business and other parts of the metaverse with ease. All communication would be made interactive like holograms and immersive experiences, instead of conventional means. This boosts information retention in customers by 70%.
6. Reinventing Loyalty Experiences:
People no longer want to wait for rewards. They desire instant gratification, and they’re going to stick with businesses that provide them. This has incentivised businesses into redesigning loyalty programs that engage their customers.
Instead of creating loyalty programs that are either customer or business centric, they need to be mutually beneficial to both. They also enable businesses to gather customer behavior on their platforms, to provide the next generation of hyper-individualized customer experiences.
Consumers are 8X more inclined to Loyalty programs that are personalized for them. Businesses need to build customer profiles that enable reaching the consumers with benefits that best serve them. Instead of generic rewards, choose to incentivize consumer behavior that aligns to your marketing goals.
7. Ethics of Customer Data Management:
Data is the biggest asset of this digital age. People need to know who has their data, where it’s stored and how it’s used. Even the slightest sign that their data isn’t secure will lead to brand abandonment.
More than 50% of companies reported that data security was a top priority in their customer experience environment. At least 38% of the firms have a separate budget allocated for data security just from a customer experience standpoint.
Ensure that you invest in securing the data by following strict adherence to data privacy laws, rules, and regulations. Data security and compliance becomes the topmost priority in securing the best customer experience.
Neiman Marcus announced one of their biggest data breach incidents in 2021. About 5 million accounts were exposed and the personal information about their customers as compromised due to this incident. Credit and gift card numbers were part of the breach. These kinds of breaches will have a major impact on their brand index, which would imply a drop in customers, and it takes years before the brand reputation gets back again.
8. Enhancing Direct Customer Interaction:
Despite the increased use of digital experiences by customers, there’s always a point where customers interact directly with customer care executives. 86% of consumers would rather talk to a human than with a chatbot.
People need to feel heard. This can directly impact the customer experience. By having empathetic frontline service employees, your business can see revenue growth of 4–8% above your market. Businesses must invest in sensitivity training and overall communication skills of their customer service personnel. It’ll pay back in customer loyalty to the brand.
Customer support personnel must be trained to anticipate customer queries, grievances, and respond in the most helpful manner. The customer executives must be prompt in getting back to their customers. They need to keep track of customer feedback and ensure that customer concerns are addressed with priority.
9. Self-Service Experiences:
As the future rolls forward, patience is a virtue that runs thin in everyone. People don’t want to wait for customer service agents. They don’t appreciate the gap between the submission of the service request or inquiry and the point when it’s addressed.
88% of global consumers expected businesses to have a self-service support portal. They’re trying to solve the issues on their own with pointers from the portal. Self Service keeps customers independent, is convenient, and saves them a lot of time.
Businesses are creating self-service experiences that enable customers to achieve their needs without any time barriers. The bonus here is that it also saves the service provider a lot of time, money, and resources. They don’t need to deploy personnel to every customer request or query. The quick rectification of issues also bolsters customer retention and revenue.
My Concluding Thoughts
Customer relationship management has gone through a paradigm shift by gearing up for personalized customer experiences. Technology is taking over nearly every aspect of it. Every business and all dedicated CRM/CX platforms need to prepare themselves for the rapidly changing needs of consumers, proactively and with predictive technology-driven solutions. CRM/CX System integrators will be called upon to provide solutions that will continue to drive the experience economy for positive return on investment in both shorter and longer terms. The companies that willingly embrace this change and adopt the newer tech trends in CRM/CX are the ones that will stay on the progressive path.
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This post was written by a Brian Friedman, VP Global Strategic Sales at SoftClouds. Brian has a background in technology, business development, corporate management, and sales. Brian has been responsible for the creation and growth of numerous companies developing successful long-term relationships that have resulted in double-digit sales growth and continuing business expansion.
SoftClouds is a recognized leader in CRM/CX transformation with experience in numerous Service Cloud Implementations with pre-configured best practice business processes for multiple verticals/domains.