The last few years have proven to be filled with constant change, and as a result businesses have witnessed dramatic shifts in consumer expectations. Against a backdrop of increasing economic uncertainty, 2023 is shaping up to create a clear inflection point when it comes to the customer experience (CX).
We’ve said it before, but it’s true every time: Customer expectations are higher than ever. But what those expectations are changes. What’s on the list this time? The Zendesk Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report has revealed that customers increasingly expect immersive experiences.
Sixty-one percent of customers are excited about experiences that are natural, convenient and fluid. As a result, business leaders recognize the critical and expanded role of CX and are responding by making major investments to remain competitive and drive results.
Immersive CX offers customers the ability to be seen and heard, to be treated not as transactions or tickets but as the valued customers they are. And as we move into this new era, the benefits will be significant: businesses that make strategic investments in immersive CX can expect to see strengthened customer relationships.
What’s driving the move to immersive CX
The research includes a global survey of nearly 100,000 Zendesk customers and revealed five distinct catalysts driving the move toward immersive CX:
- AI experiences are becoming more evolved and seamless
- Conversational experiences are empowering consumers
- Customers are eager for deeper personalization
- Consumer well-being and sentiment are reshaping CX
- CX teams are breaking down silos as they become more integrated
AI experiences are evolving and becoming more seamless
AI is at the top of the CX conversation in 2023. It’s not only one of the areas where customer expectations are rising fastest but also a place where companies are investing. As 72% of businesses prioritize expanding AI across CX this year, customers have clear ideas about how AI should evolve. They want richer interactions with bots. In fact, 64% say bots should provide the same level of service as humans.
Conversational experiences are empowering customers
Customers are driving the trend toward conversational experiences because they prefer interactions they can control – ones that are fluid, natural.
For example, when a customer stops an interaction, they expect the next representative will be able to continue where they left off — an expectation that directly impacts revenue.. A majority say they are inclined to spend more with companies that offer this type of communication.
Most businesses are still trying to catch up, as 71% percent of leaders have committed to reimagining customer service, and 60% want (or are actively planning) to implement conversational customer service experiences.
Customers are eager for deeper personalization
The report shows 59% of customers want companies to use the large amount of data they have to provide truly personalized experiences that transcend typical marketing efforts, whether it is online or in-store.
Unfortunately, most companies hold a narrow view of what personalization means and how to deliver it, which is at odds with 62% of customers who think businesses can do more in store and online. If companies deliver personalized experiences, they have the opportunity to reap the benefits of long-lasting customer relationships – 77% of business leaders agree that deeper personalization leads to increased customer retention.
Consumer well-being sentiment is reshaping CX
To build strong relationships with customers, companies must recognize, respect, and ultimately harness consumer emotions. Yet as Zendesk has found, businesses are unprepared when it comes to managing customer emotions.
While organizations have made efforts to improve customer well-being, 63% of business leaders admit those efforts have been unfocused and reactive. Companies have not made strides in tracking emotional data in a more formal way. Only 22% of leaders and managers say that customer sentiment is used to personalize the experience a customer receives.
Companies that fail to recognize the ramifications of these negative experiences stand to lose more than a few disgruntled customers. They risk irreparable brand damage. In fact, 73% of customers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad experiences. More than half will head to the exit after one unsatisfactory interaction.
CX teams are breaking down silos as they become more integrated
For too long, business leaders have viewed their customer service organizations as cost centers, not drivers of revenue. This mindset has created siloed teams with little connection to their wider organizations.
But as we’ve seen, customers expect data to be shared so their experiences can be personalized and immersive. Yet, only 22% of business leaders say their teams share data well.
It is clear that silos must be broken down, with true integration between customer service, sales, and marketing. Doing so promises great returns: increased efficiency, better customer experiences, and more revenue.
Forward thinking leaders who do recognize support as a revenue driver, however, have taken decisive action. More than half reported training agents how to identify expansion and sales opportunities, and 47% ensured that their agents had access to the type of customer data that makes revenue generation easier. Thirty-eight percent also developed workflows and processes geared toward revenue generation.
The road ahead for CX in 2023
Customer expectations are forever changing, customer service has to evolve accordingly.Businesses that respond to what consumers are telling them, invest in technology and provide a seamless, immersive CX can expect an increase in customer acquisition and loyalty, and ultimately profitability.
Download and read more in the 2023 Zendesk CX Trends Report here.