What does the customer experience of the future look like?

Did you know that once a provider loses a customer, 68% of them won’t return? Aside from a few exceptions, most top brands won’t be able to maintain their status as market leaders based solely on their products and services anymore.

Now, more than ever, you must ensure that you have a strong customer experience strategy in place that exceeds people’s expectations and makes them feel valued. In today’s economically turbulent world, it’s the businesses that offer an impressive experience in addition to great products and services that will thrive.

But, what does a good customer experience look like in 2022, and how will it evolve in the future?

In this article, we’ll explain what customer experience (CX) is and how a good customer service strategy plays an integral part in CX. We’ll also explore the top four customer service trends you can expect to see in the coming years. Read on to learn more.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience relates to the relationship between consumers and businesses at every stage across the entire buyer journey, from beginning to end. Essentially, any interaction a customer makes with your company — no matter how brief — contributes to their overall impression of your organisation. Interactions could include any of the following touchpoints:

  • Online reviews
  • Social media posts
  • Marketing materials (e.g. leaflets, brochures, posters)
  • Adverts
  • Website content
  • Blog posts or articles
  • Booking an appointment or ordering a product
  • Onboarding
  • Customer service
  • Final payment process
  • Offboarding

When looking at your current customer experience strategy, you must ask yourself, “how do prospective and existing customers feel about my brand and is there room for improvement?”. Remember, even one weak link in the chain is enough to destroy someone’s opinion of your company, so you need to think about every touchpoint. 

A large and crucial part of the overall CX is how you handle customer service. 59% of consumers worldwide say they have higher customer service expectations today than they did just one year ago. And that’s not set to change any time soon. 

As people become more accustomed to convenience, instant gratification and speedy services, they’re going to continue demanding better experiences from businesses. Unfortunately, organisations that fail to keep up with the latest trends risk falling behind the competition or, at worst, becoming obsolete. 

How negative experiences can change customers’ opinions

To put the issue into perspective, let’s imagine for a moment that a customer has chosen Company A as their credit card provider after seeing an advert on TV. The customer liked Company A’s social media messaging, and their website was user-friendly, so it seemed like an obvious choice. So far, so good. 

A few weeks later, the customer has a complicated problem with one of their bills and needs to contact the customer service team, but there’s no way to talk to a person. The customer ends up going round in circles with a chatbot that can’t answer their complex question, so they become frustrated. As a result, the customer decides to cancel their contract with Company A and chooses Company B instead because they have a customer service team that you can call directly. 

Worse still, the customer then also advises their friends and family to avoid Company A. Despite having a mainly positive experience in the beginning, that one negative interaction was enough to tarnish the customer’s perception of the organisation.

However, the good news is that you can start preparing now for the future by learning what customer experience trends you will likely encounter and incorporating them into your CX strategy. 

The top 4 customer experience trends for the future

It’s no secret that a bad CX can be extremely damaging to your brand. Worryingly, just over a third (33%) of consumers will tell others about a negative encounter they’ve had with a company, so you should make customer experience a top priority in 2022. 

Here are the top four customer experience trends you should consider implementing:

1. Self-Service options for customers will become more common

For less complicated issues, self-service platforms will become a favourable and helpful solution — for businesses as well as customers. In fact, support teams that already use chatbots are 27% more likely to say that they can meet increasing customer expectations than those that don’t.

After all, getting a quick and straightforward solution to their problem is essential for most customers. No one wants to wait for several minutes on hold just to ask a basic question that they could resolve much more rapidly using a chatbot. Taking an omnichannel approach to customer service — using technology alongside more traditional methods — will be a more beneficial means of dealing with various types of queries. 

Plus, with all the time your team saves by not dealing with minor issues, they’ll be able to focus on finding perfect solutions to larger, more complex customer problems. Consequently, you’ll have happier customers and an excellent reputation. 

2. Customers will expect more personalised experiences and an empathetic touch

Despite the increasing popularity of digital self-service customer platforms, there’s no denying that people enjoy feeling valued. According to data from Epsilon, 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase a product or service if the brand provides a personalised customer experience. But, it’s difficult to personalise your services effectively without including a human element.

Additionally, although chatbots are perfect for resolving minor issues, they don’t have the capability to truly understand customers’ unique situations. For example, some people might have trouble using AI (artificial intelligence) customer service platforms and will need a real person to explain the situation clearly to them.

Sadly, with the devastating financial impact COVID-19 has had on people worldwide, more customers will likely struggle to pay their bills on time and could need help setting up alternative payment plans. Handling these sensitive situations needs the utmost care and respect, but doing so requires a human touch. That’s why it’s imperative to include vulnerable customer care training for your advisors as part of your CX strategy in the coming year and beyond.

3. Customer retention will be make or break for your business

Customer retention is becoming a hot topic as more business leaders acknowledge the return on investment it can bring. Increasing your customer retention rates by just 5% can boost your profits by a colossal 25-95%.

For maximum success, you should consider measuring the performance of your customer service function based on your churn rate. Your churn rate indicates how many customers stop doing business with your company over a specific period. Here’s a simple way to calculate yours:

Churn rate = 

(number of customers at beginning of month – number of customers at end of month) 

÷ 

customers at start of month

x 100

In a perfect world, your client losses would sit at 0%, but the harsh reality is that some client losses are inevitable. Instead, set a realistic target to aim for and work towards it by delivering impeccable customer service. 

4. Change will be the new normal

Whilst the term “the new normal” has been thrown around a lot in the last two years as we’ve all adapted to changes brought on by the pandemic, it’s also applicable to the way businesses now interact with their customers. 

Gone are the days when customer service followed a set pattern dictated by the company’s needs. In this day in age, businesses will need to learn how to adapt to new customer experience demands at the drop of a hat and change their approach as necessary.

One of the best ways to guarantee that your customer experience strategy remains agile is by partnering with a customer interactions expert like Sigma Connected, who can recruit the right people rapidly and train them in line with the latest techniques. By outsourcing your customer service function, you can work flexibly, optimise your services and reduce costs. As a result, you’ll have more time and money to focus on other business-critical activities. 

A human touch will always be the key to a great customer experience

Although the increasing popularity of AI suggests we’re heading towards a more digital age of customer service, 30% of consumers agree that not being able to talk to a person directly is the most frustrating aspect of a bad experience. Clearly, there’s always going to be room for human connection.

At the end of the day, outstanding customer service is still delivered by people, whether at the customer front-end or in managing the state-of-the-art technologies involved in the communication process. 

Subsequently, it’s paramount that you take a hybrid approach. Employing a team of well-trained, professional customer service advisors can help solve your customers’ problems whilst leaving them with a positive impression of your company, but doing so alongside more digital solutions.

Our team at Sigma Connected understands that customer queries can sometimes be complex and require a human touch, particularly for businesses in the utilities, telecommunications, retail and financial services industries. We have a proven track record in maximising the use of new technologies and delivering front-end customer service staff who will be a true reflection of your brand.

As we mentioned earlier, we live in economically challenging times, and more people are struggling to meet rising costs. Heading into 2022, companies will need to devise new ways of working with customers to resolve problems in a way that’s suitable for everyone involved, meaning the human element of customer service has never been so crucial.

Ultimately, good customer service isn’t just about meeting KPIs and sending people on their way. It’s about impressing your customer, building a sense of trust and reaping the rewards in the long term. 

Let Sigma Connected help you deliver a personalised customer experience

Are you looking to improve your customer service strategy in the new year? Or do you lack the in-house resources to handle your customers’ queries and want to outsource?

We have you covered.

At Sigma Connected, we understand that every company’s needs are different and will naturally vary over time as your business and customers change. We have the ability to adapt quickly and will work flexibly to meet your every need.

Want to find out more?