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The only certainty about CX is change. Thanks to rapidly accelerating digital behaviors across generations, competitive brands must now satisfy customers on multiple touchpoints — anytime, anywhere. And as customers increasingly look to self-service first to solve their issues, the new CX standard is instant gratification.

Looking ahead to the future, what does 2022 have in store for CX? How can contact centers remove the friction customers often face when seeking solutions to their challenges? In a recent webinar, Max Ball, principal analyst at Forrester, joined NICE for a discussion of the digital trends that will significantly impact CX through 2022.

Key 2022 Digital CX Trends

  • Engaging customers where their journeys begin
  • Delivering frictionless resolution
  • Accentuating the positive
  • Enhancing employee experience

Meeting Customers at Their Digital Doorsteps

Trend 1: Engaging customers where their journeys begin. Where can you find your customers before they reach the contact center? The answer is earlier than you might think. If they need information, customers will often go to the web (specifically Google) or your mobile app first before engaging with your agents.

This reality also transcends generation — customers of all ages have adapted to a digital-first experience. Everyone is now a digital native. Thus, your CX teams should look for ways to engage customers at the true start of their journey, which is often earlier than expected.

Matching the Speed of the Customer

Trend 2: Delivering frictionless resolution. Roadblocks and sidetracks slow customers down — and create the friction they experience as painful. Your goal should be to meet customers where they are, guide them through the best path and then accelerate the journey to resolution.

“Speed boils down to making things easy,” says Ball. “If I’m calling the contact center, I want my questions answered more than I want to make a friend.” In today’s environment, polite customer service is table stakes, but don’t forget why customers are reaching out to you in the first place.

Solving customer challenges quickly and efficiently without friction also has positive implications for the business. If an issue comes up with a product or service, customers want it fixed, and they want it fixed now. They expect issues to be resolved with ease: on their platform of choice with the ability to speak to a live agent when self-service doesn’t solve the issue. That means agents should have the authority to solve the problem without supervisor intervention or needless transfers.

Emotional Intelligence at Work

Trend 3: Accentuating the positive. Your contact center agents need high levels of emotional intelligence to deliver exceptional CX experiences. Plenty of emotions come into play around the customer journey. One example is trust. “Do I have confidence in the brand I’m interacting with?” Ball asks. “Do I trust that the agent I’m speaking to is going to solve my problem?” Many factors contribute to how customers feel about your brand.

Ball continues. “Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman proved that we tend to remember the biggest moments in an interaction, whether positive or negative. The other thing we remember is the end. What happened at the end of the interaction? Everything else falls by the wayside. We can map this to customer experience and journey. When thinking about your customer interactions, accentuate the positive. Do what you can to make the good parts higher, because people will remember these parts more often.”

Agent Experience Mirrors Customer Experience

Trend 4: Enhancing the employee experience. With the nature of work in upheaval, how your agents feel about their jobs will have a huge impact on the customer experience. “With AI and automation, the easy stuff goes away, and agents are given the more difficult challenges,” Ball says. “This leads to the need for different approaches in how you hire agents. With the easy answers being routed to AI and self-service, you want agents who are truly passionate about helping people and delivering high-quality support. Then, you give agents the tools and technology to answer customer questions quickly and efficiently.”

It’s time to rethink how you prepare agents. This includes hiring, training and coaching. Think about how you can give them the control and confidence to do the job to the best of their ability. WIth so much of the world in flux, the more control you can hand to your agents, the better experience they’ll have, which translates to a better customer experience.

Conclusion

Removing the barriers that cause friction and providing superior customer experiences can be brand differentiators — but only for companies willing to invest the time, effort and technology required to set the standard and optimize the experience. “You get exceptional value out of your customers by treating them well and meeting their needs across the whole customer experience,” says Ball.

This means investing in more than just the contact center, but also the right digital cloud platform, high-powered data and AI solutions, the inherent completeness of a single vendor, and domain-specific expertise. By taking a holistic approach to CX, companies will be in better shape to get smarter with every interaction and exceed the expectations of every customer.

Watch the full webinar What’s next for CX? Going beyond the contact center at NICE.com.