Digital transformation is permanently changing customer experience.
The past few years have ushered in rapid shifts in the world of customer experience. The pandemic brought sweeping changes to the way businesses interact with their customers and altered consumer expectations in dramatic ways. The wheels that have been set in motion aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon, either. In fact, as we look toward the year ahead, we expect that many of the trends we have seen will begin to coalesce into even bigger, longer-lasting changes.
As businesses adapt to these changes, much will continue to evolve for contact center CX in 2022. Here are the four biggest CX trends we’re watching as we look toward the new year.
The Digital Transformation Will Accelerate
If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that the future of business is undoubtedly digital. The pandemic merely thrust the need for digital transformation onto the front burner and turned the heat all the way up.
As a recent report from consulting firm McKinsey and Company revealed, companies across all industries have embraced the reality that they need to rebuild their entire businesses on a digital infrastructure. From December 2019 to July 2020, customer interactions with businesses went from 36% digital to 58% digital. Companies sped up digitizing their offerings by seven years in that short period.
These organizational changes came in response to rapid shifts in consumer expectations, and these were largely driven by the pandemic. However, 62% of the executives surveyed by McKinsey believe those expectation changes will stick — long after the pandemic is over.
Ultimately, this means a digital CX is no longer something that companies can choose to offer just to their young, tech-savvy clientele. All consumers are getting used to this way of doing business. Companies of the future must build a robust, digitally driven CX that works for everyone. Many organizations have already found success embracing these changes, and these trends will only accelerate from here.
CX Must Be Built on EX
That’s not to say that organizations can push full speed ahead into the future of digital CX without any thought for how these changes will affect them internally. Now, more than ever, customer experience is intertwined with employee experience (EX).
The pandemic push toward digital transformation has been as much about the growing remote workforce as it has been about consumer expectations. For contact centers, in particular, this has brought about a sea change in workforce management. Gartner now forecasts that 35% of the CX workforce will work remotely by 2023, compared to just 5% in 2017.
This dramatic shift coincided with a massive influx of new calls as customers shifted toward less physically direct forms of interaction. A poll of Genesys Customer Advisory Board members reported that call volume increased by almost 20% on average during the pandemic — and sometimes spiked to as much as 35% to 40% higher than normal.
These converging realities — an increasingly remote workforce and a consumer base that’s more dependent on those workers — mean that employee experience must be paramount for organizations. Call quality in contact centers is critical so that remote workers can accurately assess and address customer needs. But those workers also need support with enhanced AI, better chatbots and IVR systems that are more effective in call routing.
This enhanced focus on employee experience is already in motion. While Forrester reports that 48% of organizations have a dedicated program for EX today, the consulting firm projects this will rise to 65% in 2022.
Companies Must Find Harmony Between AI and Human Elements
Although enhanced AI support for employees will be critical, it can’t come at the expense of preserving the human element of CX.
To put it bluntly, many consumers haven’t gotten over their suspicion of — or downright distaste for — things like AI and chatbots. One study from the University of Göttingen recently showed that many customers still dislike it when they find out they’re dealing with a bot, especially if it’s over an important issue. Yet, Deloitte reports that 79% of contact center leaders plan to invest in improving their AI capabilities over the next two years.
Is that a bad move? No. But those leaders need to ensure those AI investments are spent on creating a seamless connection between the bot and human elements.
Sentiment analysis technology presents one of the greatest opportunities to build this hybrid CX. With these tools, AI can evaluate not just the words a customer types or speaks, but the emotions and intentions behind them. It can even field initial customer interactions and gauge emotions better than, say, a frustrated human agent that’s already dealt with 10 other difficult customers.
When IVR systems are powered by this kind of emotionally intelligent AI, they will be much more effective at connecting customers with live agents — the right ones, at the right time in their journey. This is only more critical as call volume increases amidst call center staffing shortages. Customers who encounter frustrating chatbot interactions or sluggish call center responses will quickly grow frustrated.
Data Privacy and Security Become Will Become More Critical
As contact centers grow increasingly digital and rely on things like AI and automation, it brings another issue to the forefront: privacy and security.
Technological advancements have given companies more access to customer data, not to mention more ability to use it to improve customer experience and drive sales. Contact centers also use that data to test their systems and ensure new releases are bug free. But with these new abilities comes an increased risk of misuse or compromise.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data breaches in 2021 already surpassed the total for 2020 by the end of the third quarter. Those data breaches came with a cost of $4.24 million, according to IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021.”
The good news? IBM’s report also noted that robust, secure AI can seriously mitigate these risks. But the digital transformation isn’t complete without building in proper guardrails against these significant failures. That means software, internal protocols and training solutions must be designed for enhanced privacy and security.
What’s Your CX Plan for 2022?
These are times of rapid change and exciting new possibilities for CX-oriented companies. From where we stand, 2022 looks just as interesting as 2021, and organizations should already start planning their next moves for the year ahead. The ones most likely to succeed will find a way to bring the best of digital technology with a human touch, merging CX and EX while keeping data security front and center.
To learn more about how Cyara can help you deliver top-notch CX in 2022, contact us today.