Heading into 2023, business leaders could be forgiven for feeling uncertain about where their priorities should lie. Indeed, the theme of Gartner’s strategic trends for 2023 is ‘seize uncertainty’, underlining the ambiguous geopolitical and economic environment that early 2023 will uncover.
Despite this, history tells us that, even in the midst of economic hardship, organisations that prioritise customer experience (CX), with programmes that align to their brand aspirations, will thrive. If you want to be a part of that club, here are six CX trends to consider as you plan for an uncertain year ahead.
Focus on total experience
In 2023 expect to see an increased focus on total experience — the inter-connection of CX, multi-experience (MX), employee experience (EX), and user experience (UX) – as organisations realise that harmony across these four disciplines is the fastest and best way to uplift CX. We expect to see significantly more focus placed on EX — due to a lack of investment in previous years, and its clear impact on CX. Companies will focus on employee journeys, and create common measurements frameworks that can be used to track all of the elements of the total experience equation.
CCaaS growth and evolution
We know that the contact-centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) market is growing: an increasing number of companies are choosing this flexible model to support their CX operations, and this will continue through 2023. But more importantly, vendors are expanding the capabilities of their CCaaS solutions and evolving them at speed.
This evolution will draw in larger enterprises — typically slower when it comes to CCaaS adoption — who will look for optimal migration paths for their existing on-premises solutions. This will come through various hybrid options that combine cloud applications with on-premises UC stacks, IVRs, workforce management systems, and similar. On the other hand, SMB customers will continue to benefit from the ability consume advanced capabilities that were previously out of reach.
As a final part of the CCaaS evolution, expect to see more interoperability. The complexity of digital customer journeys, where no single vendor can adequately cover every necessary element, motivates vendors to partner and form multi-cloud systems. Their customers will benefit from innovative solutions composed of complementing capabilities.
Experiences moving from reactive to predictive
Imagine if your customers never had to reach out for service because you were always a few steps ahead. You’d know what to reach out with and when, not just on traditional channels like voice and chat, but more innovative channels such as virtual and augmented reality, connected vehicles, and community engagement platforms. This is the future of customer service, and it requires applying artificial intelligence (AI) to your data.
Expect to see organisations putting much more attention on predictive analytics, using historical data to predict future outcomes to determine the wants and needs of a specific person at a particular journey moment. We anticipate increased utilisation for next-best-action suggestions for agents, proactive retention, pre-emptive support, micro-targeted outbound campaigns, and predictive contacts routing. Analytics will also have a greater role in enabling more proactive planning rather than reactive emergencies, with more accurate workflow triggers for proactive outreach on upselling or cross-selling.
Digital-thorough, not digital-first
Digital-first customer services have been trending for years already, but in 2023 we’ll see an increased focus on enabling end-to-end processes in the digital space. Many organisations still force customers to contend with situations where they start a journey on the web but at some point need to visit physical places to fill in forms or sign documents. These types of frictions increase both customer effort and costs for the company. The synergy of customer touchpoints and agent desktop applications with technologies like conferencing, screen share, collaborative documents creation, electronic forms, and digital signatures will remove those frictions and enable fully digital customer journeys, improving CX and reducing costs. For that reason, organisations will jump on the trend.
CX will be everyone’s business
CX is everyone’s business, and every employee impacts it in a certain way — not just front-line representatives. As customer service is critical for CX, companies will show increased interest in enabling contact centre agents to quickly get in touch with employees from different departments while handling customer requests. The ability to consult subject matter experts or even pull them into interactions with customers will become table stakes when it comes to delivering a great experience. And technologies like presence, messaging, screen share, voice, and video conferencing — integrated with agent desktop applications — will play a vital role here.
The contact centre agent redefined
Customers today are more informed than ever, and they can resolve many of their requests using AI-driven self-services. This means that the enquiries reaching agents are more complex than ever before — which dramatically changes their role. In 2023, recognizing this trend, companies will abandon traditional workforce optimisation concepts — characterised by a focus on strict adherence to rules and procedures — and embrace a workforce engagement approach instead. Instead of being contact answering robots, agents will be encouraged to become creative thinkers, problem solvers, and real ambassadors of the brand — critical assets for success in an experience-based economy.
Ahmad Dorra is customer engagement solutions sales lead – Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Avaya.
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