The business landscape has rapidly transformed over the past two years, and digital commerce now reigns supreme. While technology offers brands many new ways to engage with consumers and serve them more effectively, brands now need to humanize the digital customer experience to build true loyalty.

Vincent Washington, Vice President, CXM Best Practices Group at Sprinklr, spoke with CMSWire to discuss the most important CX priorities for brands in 2023, as well as what CX leaders should be considering for their own companies.

CMSWire: There’s been some discussion about bridging the gap between customer service and marketing. How do you expect those two functions to grow more integrated?

Vincent Washington: When a customer has an issue with your brand. They do not care what department resolves their issue. Conversely, smart brands know how to create a great customer experience from either the customer service or the marketing teams.

Smarter brands will seek new CX metrics to make their organization more valuable than just handling issues. Speed and productivity metrics such as concurrency rates, average handle time, or first-touch resolution are internal volume management measures. Customer care teams need to develop other strengths such as ambassador/influencer building, brand amplification, and turning service into experiences that create a funnel for revenue generation and retention not as direct sales, but as partners with other teams such as loyalty teams and omni sales teams.

As a result, social care, customer engagement, and marketing community management will continue to become blurred practices. Smart brands will integrate these practices to curate customer interactions both as a brand and support conversations.

CMSWire: There’s also the concept of turning “care moments into shareable moments.” Can you elaborate on what that will entail?

Washington: Successful brands will develop programs to empower customers to share positive experiences. It’s human nature to tell the world about a negative experience. However, despite our best intentions. We seldom tell others about the time a brand exceeded our expectations. Smart brands won’t leave it up to chance if a customer will share a great engagement — they’ll build sharing triggers and digital tools to lessen the effort for a customer to amplify an inspiring experience. Brands will incentivize this activity and create greater retargeting opportunities.

CMSWire: Digital-first commerce surely isn’t going anywhere, but how can brick-and-mortar locations pivot to stay relevant?

Washington: The lines between physical location, e-commerce, conversational commerce, and other forms of digital commerce will continue to blur. Brick-and-mortar locations will need to pivot more to experience building centers to showcase what you can do with products versus just having a showroom of inventory to buy from. There will always be an audience for customers who need to touch and feel a product before they buy. So, supply chain awareness will be key. Lastly, virtual reality experiences, and more importantly, augmented reality experiences, are going to become common expectations.

CMSWire: Why is it important for brands to move past transactional relationships with their customers in 2023?

Washington: Customer care continues to evolve into customer engagement, where service is just a use case. The true business objective is to establish a brand connection. Businesses will need to develop ways to put this approach into practice so that it’s really a value-added experience that a customer feels is personalized and relevant. Yes. “Personalized and not relevant” is a thing. (a conversation for another day). Brands will need to measure this as well.

Learning Opportunities

Another aspirational differentiator businesses have yet to tap into is providing transparency and personalized data or history to customers about prior successful care experiences with their brand. Consider how a website shows the last product purchased to remind a customer of their satisfaction with it. Why not do this with care engagements? Give customers real-time insight into where they personally had the most satisfaction and where other customers are finding success.

CMSWire: How will loyalty programs play a role in creating proactive customer support experiences?

Washington: Personalization matters more than ever. Consumers don’t just want personalization, they demand it – and with brand loyalty becoming more elusive, getting it right matters. Loyalty programs are no longer just “earn to burn points.” Loyalty is about knowing and anticipating your customer’s needs. Players who are leaders in personalization achieve outcomes by tailoring offerings and outreach to the right individual at the right moment with the right experiences.

Brands in various industries have established loyalty programs to attract and build enduring relationships with customers. Over 500 million customers are actively enrolled in loyalty programs and those programs are often viewed as the face of the brand. Loyalty leaders can also leverage data to tailor engagement and proactively care for members when they need the brand the most.

CMSWire: How can brands use artificial intelligence (AI) successfully in 2023?

Washington: If companies can successfully position AI as an aid instead of a replacement for human service, consumers will continue to get more and more comfortable engaging with AI bots. This should free up traditional service teams to focus on other priorities that positively impact customers.

In many cases, AI can also be used to deliver greater insights that empower agents to provide better service. It can hyper-categorize customers into lifestyle and intent matrices to be used for segmentation and retargeting. The challenge brands need to solve now is figuring out what this pivot should look like. They need to understand what kind of tasks should be a priority once AI is handling all the more mundane and routine tasks, and how metrics can be used most successfully.

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