The state of customer experience (CX) was quite different in the business sphere not so long ago. The crux of competitive advantage used to rest with internal capabilities and resources, cost strategies, and innovations in products and services — surprisingly, CX was an afterthought at best. Now it has taken center stage, acting as the pivot of human connections that can make or break a business in the digital age. 

Amidst a decade of unimaginable lows, record highs, and everything in between, CX has been a constant in business success. The old ways of buying and selling are quickly diffusing and the velocity at which customer preferences and technologies are changing is truly incredible. A recent survey reveals that 94% of customers are more likely to return to a brand after a positive customer service experience. It’s not lost on anyone that a company offering excellent customer service is more likely to be recommended by consumers. 

Therefore, it goes without saying that building a CX-first organization is not just a winning weapon in an oversaturated market, but the key to a company’s survival. Keeping a real-time pulse on the technological advances and dynamic customer expectations is the only way forward. Thus, a well-planned CX strategy has become indispensable for creating meaningful, frictionless and memorable journeys.

On that note, let us explore the top trends that will shape businesses in 2023:

All Focus on SMOT (Second Moment of Truth)

Effective customer interactions are one of the core building blocks of a customer's journey, which holds the potential to turn existing/new customers into brand loyalists. These interactions impact a series of customer decisions, often denoted as moments of truth. After a customer has realized the need for a product or service (stimulus), checked online or sought product reviews (zero moment of truth), talked with a salesperson or tried a sample (first moment of truth) followed by making a purchase, the second moment of truth (SMOT) kicks in.

At this crucial stage, what customers experience, impacts their future buying decisions. This experience derived from the purchased product or service and the brand is proportional to their exposure. Be it good or bad, these experiences are shared with others online and offline. 

It only makes sense for brands to ensure customer expectations are met at this stage. With new trends always on the rise, SMOT will continue to play an instrumental role in customer loyalty. For instance, visual assistance for customer service can elevate CX at this stage. Brands can also extend solid customer support, promotional offers and updates, giveaways and more to increase customer loyalty, including upselling and cross-selling opportunities. In the end, the quality of the experience/service provided combined with recurring customer relationships will make a difference in the world of CX.

Related Article: 5 Digital Customer Experience Trends for 2023

Data Will Reign Supreme (Sophisticated Usage)

From online to in-store interactions and purchases, data continues to fuel smarter decisions and high-quality, personalized experiences. To elevate these experiences, companies are employing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze both quantitative and qualitative data.

With recent advances in natural language processing, AI can use emotion or sentiment analysis to glean customer insights through tone of voice, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues. Sophisticated AI voice capabilities aiding automation can translate into savings and positive CX. Customer support agents will rely on intuitive, user-friendly data platforms to make interactions more relevant and personalized. Apart from empowering the workforce with the right data at the right time, these customer support systems can act as a centralized hub to dissolve data silos and replace manual processes with automation. 

Evidently, automation will be one of the game-changing trends to watch out for in the customer service space. Automation will also be an important factor in delivering the desired CX experience and supporting increasingly complex and personalized customer engagements. In a nutshell, the more data the company has, the more relevant, predictive, proactive, personalized, and engaging the interactions become. 

More Power to Customers

When it comes to optimizing CX, self-service has been in the spotlight for quite some time now. However, post-pandemic trends have prompted its acceleration as customers increasingly take it upon themselves to connect with brands. The ability to resolve problems on their own will require companies to provide customers with the resources and tools to do so.

In turn, this would help enterprise workforce to focus on more serious challenges. Apart from presenting a unique marketing opportunity, self-service aligns well with the resourceful and self-reliant customers of the digital age. As per an exploratory research study, 77% of customers view brands providing self-service options more positively, whereas 79% expect brands to provide self-service support to eliminate the hassle of contacting customer support. 

Macy’s is a perfect example of how self-service can bolster brand experience. The company's mobile checkout app has a self-service feature to accelerate the in-store checkout process. With this feature, customers can browse and scan the products with their smartphone camera and the app’s in-built scanner while making a purchase. Investments in customer service chatbots and using FAQs are good starting points for self-service and filling the gaps in the current CX environment. 

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: Why Conversational AI Is So Much More Than a Chatbot

Getting Personal With Personalized Customer Experiences

Personalization is an age-old term in the customer service space; what e-commerce businesses need today is hyper-personalization to make every customer journey unique. In order to drive performance and better customer outcomes, companies must invest in this crucial capability that has proven to grow 40% more revenue faster than their counterparts.

Online interactions in our post-pandemic world reflect escalated expectations, which continue to rise. Customers demand that brands acknowledge their unique needs across every touchpoint and phase of their purchase journeys. They don’t want their interactions to be "too personal," yet expect brands to address them by their first name, make recommendations based on past purchases and extend exclusive offers on repeat purchases/birthdays.

Amazon’s product recommendations exemplify the wonders of hyper-personalization in e-commerce. In essence, product recommendations will remain one of the leading modes of personalization in the coming year. However, brands like Spotify and Netflix have mastered the art of personalized content.

Be it channel preference, gender, demographics or geolocation, brands will require extensive strategies to meet numerous personalization business goals. In 2023, personalization will continue to top the CX game in terms of driving engagement and conversions, fostering loyalty and improving diverse KPIs. 

Customer Data: Trust and Transparency 

With increased awareness and access to information, instances of fraud and customer dissatisfaction have risen consequently. Honesty and transparency are key differentiators for brand credibility; enterprises cannot risk making promises they can’t deliver. Since dissatisfaction can lead to both reputation and customer loss, enterprises must take accountability for mishaps to win customers and boost public trust in their brand.

To do this, they need to be transparent in their communication and keep customers informed throughout their purchases. Customers expect friendly, honest, direct and empathetic conversations — precisely what brands should deliver — and 94% of respondents from a study share that their loyalty stays with a transparent brand. Nearly 75% of them state that they will be happy to pay more for a brand offering genuine products and services.

Apart from building rapport with customers, brands should also pay equal attention to privacy. While sharing personal information with brands, customers expect that their data is protected and their privacy is maintained. With data privacy policies and government regulations evolving globally, enterprises will have to invest in solutions that will protect their business and network.

Conclusion: Challenging Year Ahead for Ecommerce

With rebound efforts almost coming to completion, 2023 will be a challenging year for ecommerce. While personalization, automation and data will shape the recent trends, elements like transparency, self-service, privacy and more will be added to the mix.

Brands must be on their toes to constantly rethink their marketing strategies and conquer the most important element in their business: winning over the customer. It’s time to learn and build on some lessons from last year to get a head-start in 2023.

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