Experts weigh in on potential disruptions to customer experience in the upcoming year.
Every year there are disruptions to CX. It could be something as extensive as the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed many customer service agents to work remotely, or it could be the emergence of a new and popular social media platform, such as when Myspace came into play more than a decade ago. Now Facebook no longer has the dominance it once did and the recent changes in opt-in rules for customer/prospect contacts have caused CX disruptions.
While some of these disruptors appeared during a particular year, others, such as growing customer expectations, continue to evolve over time.
Below are some of the CX disruptors marketers expect to see in 2023.
More Peer-to-Peer Customer Service
The combination of a tight labor market, the growing gig economy and companies cutting costs will drive dramatic increases in self-service and/or peer-to-peer customer service models, according to Iliya Rybchin, Elixirr Consulting partner.
“The inability to hire sufficient staff and the associated costs will require companies to find alternative ways to deliver customer service,” Rybchin said. “The tech industry has used P2P support communities for years, and I anticipate that other industries will adopt these support models over traditional customer support services.”
Consumers with excess spare time or those seeking to make a few dollars will be “enlisted” by companies to provide service or support to other customers, Rybchin added. It may begin with helping answer simple questions but could expand to more complex tasks previously performed by salaried customer service employees.
Rybchin expects this evolution to start companies down a “slippery slope” of further reducing their commitment to customer service, raising fundamental questions around the degree to which a company has a responsibility to provide care and service versus pushing that responsibility out to the customers themselves.
Further Social Media Expansion
The diversification of channels will continue increasing at record speed, according to Shari Hofer, Wiley CMO. “Customers are reconsidering the social media landscape. They are finding new channels to engage on such as Discord and Twitch. Companies will need to determine whether or not they want to invest in new channels and reevaluate their current spend and strategies.”
This points to a larger issue of shifting behavior of customers and the ability for products to be discovered in different ways, Wiley added. “For example, we are seeing customers use TikTok as a search engine and Amazon for product discovery. These changes present new opportunities to reach customers but will require navigating across a large and more complex environment.”
Related Article: How AI-Driven Data Enhances CX
Increased AI Penetration
In 2023, CX technology will continue to blur the lines between real human customer interactions and artificial intelligence, predicted Dave Mingle, vice president of CX at Reputation.
“Walmart recently launched Be Your Own Model, a virtual try-on technology that allows shoppers to use their own photos to visualize how clothing will look on them without trying it on,” Mingle explained. “This gamifies the way customers shop, using machine learning to show how an item of clothing will look on someone using shadows and fabric draping, mimicking where clothing falls on someone’s figure in seconds.”
AI is also making chatbots appear realistic to customers, Mingle added, pointing to startup Tymely, which is developing a chatbot to enable brands to provide email and chat support services in a more empathetic way. Additionally, Soul Machines has developed a 3D digital human, which is being used on sites such as Calocurb.
Increased Focus on Quantifying Quality CX
A shift away from merely delivering great experiences is coming.
“One of the top CX disruptions I expect to see in 2023 is a complete shift away from just being able to deliver a great experience, to actually being able to quantify the impact of that experience,” said Israel Gaudette, CEO of Flawless SEO.
Many are businesses delivering great CX, but they’re still not measuring it — if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it, Gaudette explained. You can’t know what’s working and what isn’t working, or how much money you’re losing by not improving your customer experience.
Related Article: Why Silicon Valley Didn’t Anticipate the COVID Comedown
Staff Reductions’ Impact on CX
Reductions in the workforce due to cost pressures will ultimately impact customer experience and customer relationships, said Rusty Bishop, Bigtincan CMO.
Reduced customer-facing teams will mean significant CX headwinds, Bishop said. “Not only do businesses need to retain (and grow) their existing customer business — they may have to do so with the loss of key relationships. We all favor doing business with people we know and trust. When our account rep and/or customer support contact changes, we are given reason to rethink the relationship altogether.”
Businesses that take this disruption into consideration will be more successful with customer retention. Bishop recommends acknowledging the tangible and intangible value of relationships, which can be accomplished via analyzing simplistic account maps or opportunity maps, or, for more sophisticated companies, using technology-based relationship intelligence to obtain insights on relationships internal and external to the business.
“As a CMO, I want our customers to enjoy warm introductions instead of cold calls.” Bishop said. “Paying close attention to customer relationships is absolutely critical to ensuring a strong customer experience, not just as we head into 2023 as we face leaner customer-facing teams, but far beyond.”
Final Thoughts on 2023 CX Disruptors
There will certainly be changes to the CX landscape in 2023, either from the continuation of certain trends, like the penetration of AI, from something unforeseen, like the emergence of a new dominant social media channel — or from something else altogether.
The only sure thing is that some type of change will occur and that CX professionals will need to be able to adapt to it for the success of their companies and for their own livelihoods.