Market research was started in the early 20th century to test and improve advertising based on consumer input. Since that time, we’ve yet to turn around. The global customer experience (CX) market reached $8.79 billion in 2021 and is growing by 18.1% yearly.
CX has become so important now that 86% of consumers would leave a brand after as few as two poor experiences, and US businesses lose around $35.3 billion annually in customer churn. The need for businesses to invest in CX platforms and solutions is significant for them to be successful. Here are my top 10 trends in customer experience to help you plan your CX solutions and platforms appropriately. [1,2]
Trend 1: Omnichannel Experiences
Constant interactions across channels increase customer trust, resulting in a positive omnichannel user experience. Users are exposed to various channel experiences as they switch between channels to finish a single activity or a series of tasks over time. Numerous factors, including design, content, tone of voice, and functionality, impact these channel experiences.
Customers who engage in omnichannel shopping tend to spend more money than those who only shop through a single channel. Not only do they spend 4% more in-store, but they also spend 10% more online than single-channel shoppers. Furthermore, the more channels they use, the more they tend to spend. Despite this, some still consider omnichannel to only apply to retailers, when in reality, it has become commonplace for both consumers and marketers. This is especially true for financial corporations. [3,4]
Bank of America (BOA) has offered its customers an omnichannel experience. From letting them connect to free Wi-Fi and continue their banking activities while waiting in a branch to providing tablets when seated at a kiosk with a bank manager. They took it a step further, though, and launched the “Robo-branch” program, which allows consumers to voice their complaints to a machine rather than waiting for a teller to become available. All three: the conversation, issue handling, and experience are the same.
Trend 2: AI Implementations
We are at a point where a company’s competitive advantage depends on its capacity to scale up the collection, analysis, and use of individualized customer data, as well as on how it applies artificial intelligence (AI) to comprehend, shape, and improve the customer journey. The productivity of 64% of businesses that have used AI has increased. They have experienced a 3.5-fold increase in their customer satisfaction percentage. 
For example, knowing that millennial foodies frequently prefer niche, handmade food brands, Knorr wanted to ensure that its well-known, global brand also ended up in their shopping carts. With AI, this Unilever-owned food company developed the Flavor Profiler for the “Knorr Love at First Taste” campaign.
The profiler, fashioned after a straightforward personality test, instantaneously evaluates customer responses, categorizes them into one of 12 taste personality types, and then offers ideally suited recipes. The Profiler, the core of Knorr’s well-liked campaign, garnered 1.3 million visitors, and millennial buy intent has improved by 12%. 
Trend 3: Serving Customers in a Cookie-Less World
Users are growing tired of being followed online by advertisements for items they sought weeks ago or inundated with ads for products they are not interested in. Brands and publishers are more aware of the need to act to enhance CX. That’s why almost 76% of visitors ignore cookies or don’t interact with them when visiting a website. Now, with AI, platforms can start creating contextual profiles of their customers rather than relying on demographic advertising tactics that rely on third-party cookies. Instead of cookies tracking their audience, they can use AI to evaluate and determine their audience’s activities in real time. 
The measurement of ads, which is also based on cookies, will change significantly. Machine learning will be heavily used in conversion and attribution to understand the whole omnichannel consumer experience better and target your activities. All of this indicates that advertising will start paying attention to its target audience. Businesses will now improve trustworthiness, benefit their financial line, and combat the deteriorating customer attitude.
Trend 4: Virtual Metaverse Experiences
The metaverse will enable businesses to prioritize their consumers in a world where virtual selling will eventually become the standard by offering personalized involvement regardless of where the engagement occurs. Brands are learning how to create emotionally engaging customer experiences as the metaverse continues to grow. Although most metaverse worlds now exist in 2D, they’ll soon be primarily virtual environments that may be accessed by VR, AR, and XR devices. The metaverse market is expected to reach $678.8 billion by 2030. 
For CX, companies can create virtual environments where clients can interact with representatives and peers for a tailored shopping experience. Thanks to these online showrooms, customers may have a thorough grasp of the brand and product they’re considering buying. 35% of people are prepared to shell out between $700 and $1,000 for VR gear that will give them the sensation of actually feeling what they experience in the metaverse.
For instance, the universe of NIKELAND was developed by apparel giant Nike. Users can create their mini-games utilizing interactive sports materials and the NIKELAND toolset while playing with their online friends. Users in the online store may build their avatars with a virtual selection of Nike footwear, apparel, and accessories.
Trend 5: The Rise of Voice Technology
Voice technology will grow to $30 billion in 2026. Applications for voice recognition are nothing new, but digital voice powered by AI adds a degree of sophistication. To develop sophisticated applications that allow robots to connect with humans in a natural, conversational manner, natural language processing (NLP) and conversational AI are being integrated with machine learning and natural language understanding (NLU). 
A brand must invest in a solution specifically designed to manage human voice conversations to offer the most incredible experience to every voice touchpoint and every call for the modern customer, who demands empathy and personalization in every connection. Voice search statistics show that 58.6% of US-based consumers have tried using voice search. Many brands are using voice technology brilliantly. 
For example, through the “Mercedes Me” connect voice app, Alexa can be used to remotely unlock doors, start the engine, control pre-conditioning, send a point of interest to your in-car navigation, locate the car, send an address, or access information about the vehicle, such as the amount of fuel it has left or its maintenance schedule. By leveraging voice AI, brands present a superior brand experience at scale.
Trend 6: Humanized Digital Experiences
74% of consumers feel brand loyalty is about touching, being understood, and valued rather than discounts and loyalty perks. Creating offerings that adapt to shifting consumer tastes and behavior is a prerequisite for personalization. Instead of lumping people into larger groups, AI-based personalization attempts to give the best CX in real-time, tailored to that individual’s needs.
For instance, customers can now personalize the menu boards at McDonald’s drive-throughs. The digital menu boards at the drive-through may constantly update the menu based on factors that may affect guests’ ordering selections thanks to the power of machine learning. 
64% of consumers would instead purchase a product from a brand that knows them, and 34% would spend more money on a product to do so. Additionally, businesses can switch from rules-based recommendation systems to more intelligent ones with machine learning algorithms.
The best example is Amazon, whose machine learning-based recommendation system personalizes experiences and directs marketing and product ranking. The appeal of AI-based customization is inevitable, given the importance of hyper-personalization. 
Trend 7: Enhancing Direct Customer Interaction with Conversational AI
86% of customers would rather talk to a human than a chatbot. After navigating a complex phone menu, how long did you wait before being greeted with, “Hello, how may I serve you today?” All of us have been there, but have you ever considered how things are now?
Users no longer need to search a company’s website for information. By using a familiar discussion interface, they can easily communicate with the bot. The bot, integrated with the business’s information system, has direct access to the user’s data and can give a tailored response. Lowering the need for human advisors has the dual benefits of raising customer happiness and improving customer relationship management.
By 2027, it’s anticipated that the global conversational AI market will be worth $18.02 billion. The use of bots in customer service is undeniably appealing because they make it possible to streamline and expedite information searches while delivering accurate and individualized responses.
For example, Illycaffè introduced a chatbot built using Oracle Digital Assistant technology to enable the most technologically adept clients to text their questions about product features, availability, and pricing to the chatbot through a portal on the website. 
Trend 8: Device-Agnostic Experiences
With the acceptance rate of AI increasing, it’s no longer considered a science experiment but a part of everyday life. CEOs seek AI-based solutions that reimagine business processes to gain a competitive edge. A seamless experience across their daily-use gadgets is something that 42% of customers want. Customers want the freedom to choose from various payment methods or shopping channels.
80% of customers are interested in connected buying experiences because they think they are simpler and more convenient. 92% of bridge millennials say they’re interested in these experiences because they appreciate utilizing a new technology. [14, 15]
Thus, creating seamless and device-independent shopping experiences at the physical or digital point of sale is essential for businesses hoping to attract and hold the attention of customers, particularly as these customers continue to hunt for new connected gadgets or payment methods.
Trend 9: Evolution in Self-Service
Regardless of the channel, customers’ desire for instant gratification is a common requirement throughout all interactions with their favorite brands. By providing clients with the tools they need to successfully and swiftly meet their needs, effective self-service liberates them. Businesses must stop isolating their customers and start providing them with the resources they require to flourish if they’re to achieve this goal.
88% of global consumers expect businesses to have a self-support portal. Self-service solutions centered on client success are being developed by organizations with the use of modern technologies. Customers have more alternatives and may speak more naturally with self-service solutions driven by AI and natural language processing.
For example, Amazon’s chat system analyses and can sort tickets by topic/agent skills automatically. Moreover, it gives you contextual responses based on the customer inquiry. 
The best customer portals also support multiple devices, including smartphones, so that customers can ask from the convenience of their smartphones. The customer portal can also function as a brand’s self-service knowledge base software, providing agents with in-the-moment information.
Trend 10: Rising Focus on Privacy & Security
86% of consumers are concerned about data privacy, 78% fear the amount of data collected, and 40% said that they don’t trust brands to use their data ethically. Concerns about data privacy are justified. Hence, 60% of the users want companies to be more transparent about how their data is used. 
AI is currently used for many functions, including customer self-service bots, employee HR portals, virtual assistants, companion chatbots and robots, predictive analytics, and many other applications. With AI-driven methodologies to identify sensitive data throughout a data ecosystem in both batch and real-time, businesses may speed up data privacy initiatives. The real-time use case is intriguing, particularly for companies searching for a solution that can classify sensitive data and immediately apply a form of security like tokenization.
As required by privacy laws like the GDPR, AI may search a corporate data ecosystem to find specific people who had previously requested to be forgotten. AI can also deduce sensitive personal information from non-sensitive data using machine learning algorithms, much as how emotional states may be inferred from keyboard typing patterns.
My Thoughts About CX in 2023
Customers’ expectations around CX are very high today, and everyone is looking for instant gratification and personalized experiences. These requirements push businesses to work continuously to improve and enhance CX. Customers expect quick, immediate, efficient, and effective customer service, which means businesses must be careful in choosing the right platforms and services for their CX.
Personalization will remain the top priority for loyalty, and humanized digital experiences will become much more important for next-generation CX. For this to happen, businesses need to embed the importance of CX across the entire enterprise, not be siloed, and unify customer data to provide the best experiences.
2023 will be a defining year for technology, platform, and solution vendors to demonstrate value to their clients. With the current economic uncertainty, clients are scrutinizing their CX investments and looking for better ROI. Businesses must be very careful in choosing the right technologies and platforms that enable them to adjust quickly to the ever-changing market and customer conditions.
Balaji Ramachandran, Founder and CEO of SoftClouds, wrote this article. He has over two decades of experience in technology, business development, and operations. Balaji has a solid foundation in customer relationship management for SMBs and enterprises. Utilizing his profound expertise, he has spoken at many conferences about CRM/CX and technology worldwide.
SoftClouds is a CRM, CX, and IT solutions provider based in San Diego, California. As technology trends are proliferating, organizations need to re-focus and align with the new waves to keep pace with the changing trends and technology. The professionals at SoftClouds are here to help you capture these changes through innovation and reach new heights.