by Larry Mead, Kate Kompelien and Kurt Schroeder
We have seen major waves of disruption impacting customer experiences over the last few years. From massive shifts in consumer behavior, to unparalleled rates of digital transformation, organizations have dealt with pressures from all angles.
In today’s experience economy, differentiating your brand means building a successful experience strategy that serves your employees’ and customers’ functional and emotional needs. Here are five key trends to focus on in 2022 to build a stronger experience strategy that differentiates you from your competitors and keeps your customers coming back for more.
of leaders said COVID-19 made their organizations embrace digital transformation sooner than they had expected.
Key Trend #1: Humanize your digital channels
In an effort to continue serving customers through the pandemic, organizations of all sizes invested millions in deploying digital channels. 63% of leaders said that COVID-19 made their organizations embrace digital transformation sooner than they had expected and were making greater investments in technology as a result. While initial investments were focused on getting digital channels up and running, it is now time to optimize, humanize, and drive purpose into those channels. Humanizing digital will involve going beyond rote, sterile interactions to drive personality, purpose, and meaning into each and every channel.
The best launching point is to begin by defining your brand’s personality. What do you want your brand to look like, feel like, and sound like to your customers? When you’ve defined your voice and tone ensure you are enabling your channel owners and brand ambassadors to infuse that personality within every channel and every customer touchpoint. Consider how technology like AI can blend with humanity to deliver even stronger experiences. Whether you’re using AI for automation or human assistance, take user behaviors, needs and psychological motivations into account when designing your strategy.
Key Trend #2: Think about the total experience
Shifting consumer demands and pressures from the pandemic caused many organizations to respond with pointed solutions and find and fix experience improvements. While these initiatives kept the lights on, the lack of intentional, total experience design has resulted in a number of fragmented experiences across organizations.
Keep in mind the pandemic is not the only cause of fragmented experiences. Historically, many organizations have spent the majority of their CX efforts and investments on creating an effortless experience for very specific interactions. Eliminating friction within specific interactions may not necessarily create a consistent, dependable, predictable, and brand-aligned total experience. Headed into 2022, organizations who are looking to continue to improve their CX maturity need to start looking at the customer experience in its totality, not just as isolated interactions. Think about it like an orchestra. You don’t go to an orchestra and visit different rooms to hear the brass, percussion, strings, or winds. Instead, you hear the orchestra playing together in concert and harmoniously. Customers expect your total experience to be the same way.
My best tip for improving the total experience is to start by gaining a deep understanding of your employees and your customers. Be sure to visualize these journeys through customer and employee journey mapping, observational research, simulation exercises, and feedback loops. When you understand just how fragmented your experience is today, you can start to map your North Star vision for a stronger total experience tomorrow.
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Key Trend #3: Get more serious about CX orchestration
While visualizing and designing your experience is key to building a strong CX foundation, some organizations get stuck in the planning and strategy stage for months or even years - but proactively orchestrating and executing those experiences is just as important. One key to thriving in 2022 is to surround the customer with a seamless, omnichannel experience – that means you’ll have to get more serious about CX orchestration.
CX orchestration takes the thinking and planning involved in CX design and realizes it through a focus on people, processes, and technology – and getting them working together in harmony. You’ll want to conduct rigorous employee and customer journey mapping and build proactive workflows and processes for your employees and your agents. Your technology, of course, plays a key role in CX orchestration. For many organizations that will mean thinking about your CRM differently. Instead of just a data warehouse, think about your CRM as your orchestration engine. It houses all the important information you need about your customers and when properly integrated with your other systems you can drive personalized campaigns, orchestrate customer touchpoints, and fuel exceptional experiences.
Key Trend #4: Deliver hyper-personalized experiences
An average of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day. That’s a lot of data. And as technologies like AI, machine learning and others continue evolving, companies are only getting more sophisticated with their data and analytics capabilities, which, in turn, allows them to deliver more personalized experiences.
It is crucially important that you are meeting the functional and emotional needs of your customers based on the totality of who they are – not just why they are calling. That means you’ll need to focus on building holistic customer profiles and harnessing your customer data. Similar to the last trend, you’ll want to start by getting more out of your CRM. Real-time data updates in a core CRM are the baseline for creating personalized interactions. Today’s consumers leave digital fingerprints on everything they interact with and your CRM has the power to store that information. When you have that context, you can use it to further personalize the journey across digital channels and empower next best experiences for your customers. Crafting personalized experiences takes thoughtful application of data and a deep understanding of the ways your customers interact with your organization.
Key Trend #5: Focus on proactive experiences
As we know, many organizations have focused on delivering experiences that are reactive to customers needs, behaviors, and desires. The key to standing out in 2022 is to focus on building proactive experience strategies. Organizations have loads of data about their customers, it’s important to take what you know about your customers and design proactive experience strategies that give customers what they need, sometimes long before they even realize their needs.
Gone are the days when organizations wait for their customers to engage. Rather, organizations should be using customer data to design and develop proactive customer engagement journeys. Doing this well will rely on leveraging AI and machine learning to help you predict what your customers want, need, and how they will act. Don’t waste your time tediously sifting through huge amounts of data. Instead, leverage AI and machine learning to gain useful insights into your customers’ behavior and then use those insights to deliver seamless, memorable, proactive customer experiences. Of course, it doesn’t end there. AI and automation like AI-enabled bots can also help you amplify the human touch and build proactive experiences by empowering employees to do their jobs more efficiently and freeing them up from mundane tasks.
While there’s always a lot to think about when planning for a new year, you don’t have to address these trends on your own. Avtex is here to help. We have helped hundreds of clients deliver seamless customer experiences through strategic design and careful orchestration across a number of overlapping CX disciplines, strategies, applications, and technologies. The rules of customer experience are being rewritten, and we’re always keeping a pulse on the latest trends so we can provide world-class CX design and orchestration that fuels exceptional experiences.