Customer Experience 2022 Trends, a Regional Perspective
I am sure, like everyone else, you have opened your inbox to at least one "Trends for 2022" article or blog. Don't get me wrong, I love a trends piece as much as anyone (I am writing one after all), but in all the excellent and thought-provoking articles I've read, something was missing: what does this all mean for us? How do I, and my fellow professionals in the region, interpret these global trends and predictions for the Caribbean region? I was recently invited to participate in an event hosted by Arthur Lok Jack School of Business, "The Future of CX", and a key insight in preparing for the event was the famous quote by Newton "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." In looking at the past and our current state, there are a lot of insights that absolutely must be considered when predicting trends that are relevant for us.
So, when it comes to trends for 2022, here are my takes on the Caribbean and beyond.
An increased effort to understand the CURRENT state
Businesses will focus on understanding customers' wants, needs, expectations, and behaviours. There is a lot of data and information regarding the state of Customer Experience across the world, but little to nothing on the Caribbean region, something EXCO is committed to changing. When it comes to Customer Experience one of the most popular metrics is feedback. At EXCO we estimate that less than 20% of businesses in the region are proactively getting consistent, real-time customer feedback, and even less than that are acting on and closing those proverbial CX loops (customer, operations and strategy). In 2022, we expect to see a surge of interest and investment in Customer Listening platforms and initiatives as businesses in the region grasp the importance of listening (actually hearing) and measuring the experiences they are delivering.
2. The (continued) Rise of AI in Customer Service and contact experience.
We have ALL dealt with chatbots and "digital support", so while this isn't a bold prediction, bear with me a moment. In the last two years, we; customers, businesses, PEOPLE have benefited from an explosion of technologies and a fundamental shift in the interface between a company and a customer. However, when it comes to execution and operationalisation, digital engagements can sometimes feel impersonal and ultimately lead to greater frustration. Here are a few trends that we expect to see in successful implementations:
a.) An upward trend in the enhanced use of digital and AI to help BOTH internal and external customers shorten the route to valued human engagement. There are many available platforms that offer easy and affordable system integrations to provide a single view of the customer. This leads to empowered agents who understand and can better serve customers while providing an easier working environment that leads to happier and more productive employees.
b.) More personalised experiences. We are all pretty tired of the "hey there" (that's so 2019); people want to be treated as they are, people. But without the right data, efforts to personalise often feel inauthentic. This year, as businesses in the region focus on data (see point one), they will use technology and insights to create more personal connections. Personalised experiences aren't the result of automating everything; they result from actively choosing what, when and how to automate. If we can track our coffee orders (hey FoodDrop), then there is no doubt companies can provide real-time updates and communications to customers. In the B2B space, we anticipate a rise in self-service with customer portals that allow visibility into and management of accounts.
3. A re-focus on the Customer Service experience.
Ever heard of the term 'experience economy'? As Forbes so nicely puts it, the experience economy is where a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event'. In other words, customers value the overall purchasing experience as much as the service or product they're buying. As we get back to "life", the desire for in-person experiences will continue to increase, and so will the expectations of the service we receive.
This will lead to more carefully designed experiences in the region with increased emphasis on Journey mapping and optimisation. Tone of voice, response and resolution speed, personalised recommendations and that Caribbean warmth will re-emerge as differentiators in 2022.
4. Demand for CX talent and ownership (dedicated roles and teams) in businesses will explode in the region.
With Customer centricity mattering more than ever, businesses in the region will scramble (at first) to find talent to assign ownership and accountability for the experiences being delivered, across touchpoints and from a holistic view. This will lead to opportunities for career growth and outsourced expertise. In a recent study, EXCO estimated that roughly 35% of businesses in the Caribbean have dedicated CX resources and/or teams. By the end of 2022, we expect this figure to double.
5. Increased proof of ROI for CX initiates.
As businesses in the region up their investment in Customer Experience and related technologies and initiatives, leadership teams will demand proof of concept and impact on the bottom line. With more personalised experiences, businesses can expect to see an increased share of wallets and, better yet, increased referral business. With tools to help measure experiences, resources owning experiences being delivered and best practice models and case studies already available in the region, those getting started are PERFECTLY poised to leapfrog some of the typical startup challenges and prove CX as not a cost centre but revenue generator when done right this year.
To say a lot has happened and changed in the past two years would be a gross understatement. While many trends have continued and evolved, such as improved online experiences and optimised customer journeys, customer-centricity matters more than ever. Consumers drive trends, so while we have a lot of information readily available, where is the consumer insights, feedback and input from our regional, Caribbean people?
In 2022 we are excited to see the rise in the volume of the voice of the customer in the region, supplemented by improved customer services experience, both online AND in-person. This will not be possible without focusing on the experience design and increased investment in both technology and people, but we can guarantee it will be well worth it. -Team EXCO 2022
Need help with your Customer Experience journey, whether you are just getting started; not sure what is the right tool, platform or even where to start, or you are well on your way, we can help, reach out for a free consultation, email@example.com.