What is in store for CX and UX in 2022?
We’ve had some clues in 2021 – sustainability, inclusion, privacy, user-centricity, video, automation, empathy and trust. How will these play out in customer experience over the next 12 months?
We asked the experts…
Meeting customers where they are (and getting the basics right)
Richard Rutter, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Clearleft:
“A key thing is that the experience needs pushing to where you are. Our expectations have gone up in this regard – we expect services to be delivered to where we are, when we’re there – in essence ‘you become the address’. For example, doctors now come to where you are via phone or video call. You don’t have to go to a bike shop to get a bike repaired – they’ll come to your bike.
“Similarly, you don’t necessarily need to go to a bricks and mortar store – for example, for a bike fitting it won’t be long until you can give your dimensions using technology like lidar on your phone.
“Fundamentally though, we still seem to have a really long way to go in getting the basics right. In particular there’s not enough designing for when things go wrong – a pandemic has shown us that. Increasingly it’s being recognised that the way to great CX is not just a shiny, easy-to-use interface for customers, but proper service design attending to the employee experience – if systems aren’t joined up well this can be biggest impact on the CX, particularly when things go wrong.”
Products designed for everyone
Danny Bluestone, founder & CEO, Cyber-Duck:
“With WCAG 3.0 on the horizon, a growing awareness of marginalised communities brought to the forefront by Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #A11y and a TikTok Generation Z ever more focused on inclusion, there is a growing (and rightful) expectation that digital products can be used by everyone and meet their needs.”
‘Composability’ and ‘orchestration’ in pursuit of consistent CX
J.D. Little, DX Strategist, Progress Software:
“Consumer patience was tested in 2021. Key functionalities like accessibility, adaptability, familiarity, and security became highly valued topics for brands to implement into their service offers to improve the customer experience. In 2022, brands that drive successful customer experiences will increase their investment, embracing solutions that allow businesses to easily integrate innovations into their tools.”
“The language of the analysts is starting to align, and the future of digital experience is becoming clearer. Terms such as composability and orchestration have been adopted readily by everyone who writes or talks about the digital experience. Developers should set specific expectations at each step of the process to ensure that users seamlessly integrate technology between channels, and as a result, deliver consistent CX.”
Empowering customer service
Steffan Aquarone, CEO of Paygora:
“I expect more deliberation within organisations about where in their organisational model to put front-facing customer service functions, in order to achieve seamless customer experience.
“Issues will include how to empower customer service operatives with enough information and agency to solve problems, how to ensure customers can be served on the channels they choose rather than needing to be re-routed, and how to manage the ebbs and flows of volume demands with a substantial proportion of people still working from home.”
In search of lasting relationships
Jim Longo, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Discuss.io:
“A focus on strong CX will bring about more interest in customer closeness programs that have the power to build empathy, as organizations seek to further educate themselves on consumers’ lifestyles, wants and needs. The methods used to obtain empathy will also continue to evolve, with better tools to extract insights in real time and on demand.”
Eloise Shuttleworth, Senior Director of Customer Success, Iterable:
“Positivity and empowerment are set to be the watchwords for 2022. Reimagining the sales experience to ease consumer anxiety and providing extended sales, in addition to positively illuminating what can be thought of as difficult topics (e.g. mental health, sexual health, body image), will all help appeal and empower customers. The goal for brands has to be a truly frictionless and honest experience, where customers have no reason to be upset and lasting relationships are forged.”
Autonomous stores are the ‘next frontier of retail’
Diana Morato, Chief Growth Officer, Sensei:
“Autonomous stores will revolutionise the physical retail sector in 2022. In 2021, we saw the first autonomous stores emerge across the UK and Europe, revolutionising both the shopper experience (eliminating scanning of products and standing in line to pay) as well as retail management of stores, by employing technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision. Compared to traditional physical stores, autonomous stores are better equipped to maximise revenue and are operationally more efficient. We will see many more of these types of stores rolled out in 2022.
“Among other things, autonomous store technology can keep track of stock in real time, making inventory management much simpler and more accurate for retailers. As a result, this mitigates the risk of a customer coming all the way to a store only to find out that the product they want is out of stock. Retailers are already recognising the need to embrace the latest technology to amplify the shopping experience and build brand loyalty. As such we will see the momentum continue to build in 2022, as more retailers look to give their stores an autonomous make-over.
“From the customer’s perspective, they are living increasingly busy lives and want shopping to be as quick and convenient as possible. Autonomous retail is the next frontier in retail, as it allows users to go into a store, pick up anything they want and leave. In addition, autonomous stores won’t just benefit customers and businesses, but also the retail staff employed in these stores, who are not currently working to their full potential, or performing value added tasks where they can truly interact with customers. Changing the role of retail workers will add great value to the customer shopping experience and help make the transition into this future of retail much easier for consumers and businesses alike.”
Danny Bluestone, Cyber-Duck
“2021 saw unprecedented extreme weather events, from rain on the Polar ice sheets to record freeze in southern USA. Climate change is here. The UN COP26’s Glasgow Climate Pact pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. With digital emissions now greater than the aviation industry and growing exponentially, digital has to become more sustainable, and fast. Today’s average web page is a staggering 364.7% heavier than it was in 2010, every single extra byte gobbling up energy and raising emissions. Digital sustainability is no longer an option.
Technology must be imbued with a human touch
Paul Springer, Director, School of Communication & Academy of Music and Theatre Arts, Falmouth University / President, Edcom:
“…brands and their marketers will continue to learn, trial and error, iteratively in what’s now clearly a ‘learning-through-doing’ and always-on era. I think – hope – that in December 2022 we won’t be reflecting so much on technical innovation, but instead on how communications specialists have managed to imbue technology with a more human touch. We want to be celebrating how tech has been moulded around human traits in support of customer confidence. If we’re celebrating how advertising and marketing made interactive technology more useable it might just help us create our way through the bleak economic forecasts for 2022!”
Beefing up quant and qual
Steffan Aquarone, CEO of Paygora:
“I expect an increase in the use of new technology to measure and analyse customer experience directly from behavioural data. That could be heat mapping or mobile data-scanning software in stores, to the potentially more invasive use of human response measurement technologies at the shelf-edge, through to increased sophistication of digital analytics to identify and resolve online pain points, or work out the best time to serve up a programmatic offer or action.”
Jim Longo, Discuss.io:
“Qualitative market research functions will integrate with customer and user experience teams. CX teams can no longer solely rely on consumers’ quantitative data to inform product delivery and other decisions. As qualitative research further supports innovation at more stages of the product life cycle, the voice of the customer (VOC) will become essential in informing how to improve their experiences.
“As the need for qualitative feedback directly from consumers increases, CX and VOC tools will rise in importance. This will become critical as organisations need new windows into people’s experiences. Supply chain disruptions and labour shortages have led to unmet customer expectations, and fewer brick-and-mortar experiences means more work needs to be done in CX and UX.”
Customers expect visual experiences
Paul O’Higgins, Creative Director EMEA, VidMob:
“We expect to see more testing with innovative formats – from Reels to AR experiences – as brands need to explore new ways to engage with audiences by utilising more creative as audiences become more and more creatively savvy.
“Tactics such as 360-degree video can help make the visual experience of ‘customer experience’ a much richer, and more immediate one, even without VR glasses. Brands will need to improve their engagement game as customers start to expect visual experiences in their brand interactions.
Building trust with transparent data collection
Christopher Baldwin, VP of Marketing at Insider:
“2021 has seen a number of legislative and industry changes that affect marketers’ ability to collect and use data – from Apple’s iOS15 updates and the anticipated eradication of Google’s third-party cookies. Customer concerns around the ways businesses process and use their data are continuing to grow.
“Businesses should be working towards building a first-party and invited personalisation strategy. CX leaders should look to build a transparent relationship with customers in regards to data collection. Most customers are willing to share data if they feel their privacy will be protected and in return for a more compelling and personalised customer experience, from relevant product recommendations to timely offers. Setting clear security principles and safeguarding measures will help to earn customer trust and provide a solid foundation for data collection.”
Connected datasets make for meaningful experiences
Chad Engelgau, CEO of Acxiom:
“Creating better CX starts at the data and technology layer, where you can understand people across touchpoints. Foundational to the data and technology layer is the first-party identity graph, which ensures brands understand and recognise people across their journeys, no matter where the interaction takes place.
“…This holistic customer view at the individual, household, or business level is what makes connected, meaningful CX possible.
“An identity graph also helps with personalisation strategies and tactics. New technologies, like CDPs, offer real-time connections making insights available and actionable for enhanced personalisation, but they rely on a brand’s ability to have a connected data set.”
Read our other expert predictions roundups: