The #1 trend in CX for 2022, according to recent research by Freshworks, is the need for businesses to adopt a digital-first mindset. Mark Atterby (MA), Editor of CXFocus talks to Ben Pluznyk (BP), Director & Country Manager, ANZ for Freshworks, about this and the other trends covered in the research.
The five key trends identified by the research include:
1. The new ‘want-it-now’ customer culture dictates the terms – The pandemic has forced consumers on to digital channels and they’ve embraced it. As their demand for speedy experiences grows, businesses will be forced to adopt a digital-first mindset to deliver it.
2. Seamless omnichannel experiences replace physical-digital patchwork – The consumer of today can engage from any channel they prefer; be it traditional, digital or physical. Consumers demand experiences that are uniquely personalised based on past interactions and preferences.
3. Messaging and mobile-first conversations redefine customer delight – Consumers have embraced the convenience, comfort, and familiarity of engaging with brands on messaging apps like Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, Line Chat and more. And now there’s no going back.
4. Agent empowerment drives customer delight – Soaring query volumes, increasing customer anxiety, and adapting to a remote work environment have increased the threat of agent burnout and churn.
5. Experiences move from automation to prediction – AI-powered bots have proven themselves as valuable tools to augment agent capabilities. However, businesses that harness the potential of AI to predict customer needs and delight customers at scale will stay ahead of the curve.
MA: How are these trends impacting the day-to-day tasks of CX Leaders across Australia?
BP: These trends shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as we’ve already been seeing them take flight over the last two years. In 2022 however, it will become imperative for CX leaders to be agile and actually put these into practice. Consumers want to see change, they want to see businesses take their feedback and put them into action.
By staying on top of these trends, it’ll also help reduce cost of operations, empower employees to become agents of delight, and deepen customer loyalty. The need for a seamless omnichannel strategy is also reinforced, with many of these trends speaking to the digital-first consumer, while ensuring human engagement.
BP: It’s not any one or two industries that will be affected anymore. Any and every industry that interacts with customers (of any type) will need to keep these trends top of mind and work to implement them – whether that be retail or transport & logistics.
Customers gravitate towards businesses that cater to their needs, and the biggest danger to those who ignore these changes, is the loss of customer loyalty. Attracting and retaining customers in a competitive business environment is no small feat, and companies that ignore the importance of providing a seamless, effective customer experience can end up losing out to rivals who understand that it’s the customer who defines good service.
BP: When it comes to customer support, it’s generally acceptable to personalise as much as you can because the customer is already reaching out, and it’s important for agents to have the historical context of the customer in order to provide an exceptional experience. In fact, research conducted by Freshworks last year found that globally, 77% of consumers are willing to exchange information for a more personalised, faster and values-driven experience — 71% in Australia.
However, when implementing customer experience for sales, it’s important to use personalisation in moderation so it feels tailored but not overly invasive. Refer to what people in the market expect, what the leading technology providers are doing and what other businesses are doing, and find a happy medium. At the end of the day, the tools and technology can always provide you with the context, but it’s up to the CX leaders and sales leaders to make sure they find the right middle ground on how to use the technology to create delight at different touchpoints.
MA: Seamless omnichannel experience has been the holy grail for CX, but few have been able to achieve it completely. Can you provide examples of local and international organisations who get it right? What do these organisations have that the others don’t that make a difference?
BP: Locally, I’d say Booktopia has managed to do this really well. Internationally, Africa’s leading video entertainment company, MultiChoice Group has been working to create faster omnichannel customer support across IT and support teams for its 8.9 million South African subscribers. Using the omnichannel construct they’ve also been able to systemically drive down calls at 24% YoY and migrate customers to more digital channels. What sets these organisations apart from others, is their ability to scale operations using the current technology in place. Not only does this help with seamless transitions, but ensures that customers are consistently able to get a delightful experience at every touchpoint.