Top Trends Driving CX Change in 2022, and Beyond

Get ready for 2022 with some Customer Experience insights.

We've nearly reached the end of another topsy-turvy year, both in terms of the pandemic and in the world of Customer Experience. This means that, as with most things these days, the near future will probably be different from our recent past.

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And while we can't predict what that will look like, we can hypothesize. Because when it comes to your customers and employees, there are lots of data points and trend indicators that can help us make more intelligent decisions about how to respond to what's ahead.

That's why we wanted to write you this end-of-year note about what we're seeing in some of the largest (as well as fastest) growing companies we work with.

They understand that the 'new normal' isn't about getting locked into a particular groove. It's about being resilient, responsive, and agile in the face of continual change because we aren't going back. 

The Velocity of Change Continues to Accelerate 

The velocity of technological change has always been faster than humanity’s ability to adapt to it, but COVID has been an accelerant whose impact cannot be understated. Remote workforce. Hybrid workforce. Operational upgrades. Supply chains. The fact is, COVID has been a forcing function for companies to radically accelerate all aspects of their business—with digital transformation plans at the forefront.

A Harvard Business Review article noted that “Frito-Lay ramped up its digital and data-driven initiatives, compressing five years’ worth of digital plans into six months.” In his Q3 2020 earnings report, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said "We've seen two year's worth of digital transformation in two months..."

And in a recent survey, executives say that digitization across customer touchpoints and internal systems has been accelerated by three to four years, while product portfolio digitization has come seven years faster. 

Managing Change Is More Important Than Ever

Because the tracks of digitization, infrastructure, and operations are being laid down just one railroad tie at a time ahead of the oncoming train of progress, there is a need for change management at a scale rarely seen before. You (and your organization) will need to be more agile, more proactive, faster, and nimbler.

How do you navigate this new context? In part, by putting processes in place to help you see and respond to what is (and might be) happening. And having systems that allow you to better understand and anticipate customer and employee expectations, wants and needs.

That's why an ethos of partnering with stakeholders, new digital ways of working, and ongoing communications make change management in the face of digital, societal, economic, and workforce disruption just a *little* bit easier.

To Manage Change, You Need to See What's Changing...

We've identified over 20 distinct trends driving customer experience focus and investment for 2022 and beyond. And while we dug into about half of them in a recent webinar, most roll up to three "macro trends" affecting every aspect of business today.

  1. Customer Expectations Continue to Rise: Business buyers and consumers alike expect more and better experiences from the companies that serve them. Customers expect state-of-the art user experiences, Amazon-, Apple-, or Netflix-like—and, they expect it for every interaction, digital or otherwise. They also expect consistency across all the touchpoints of your organization and proactive engagement with real time, relevant information.
  2. Employee Expectations Have Radically Changed: Post-Pandemic, employees expect a hybrid (if not fully remote) work environment and you will need to upskill their capabilities to keep up with the digital transformation around them. After all, no matter how "digital-first" your business gets, success is still driven by the human element. This means the current hot competition for talent at every level makes employee engagement and retention more important than ever. In aggregate, it will require a complete revision of employee experiences to keep your talent pipeline full.
  3. Experience Management Is Taking Center Stage: You will need to break down traditional silos in your organization, connecting the front, middle, and back offices around a customer-centric ethos. Built-in to the effort, customer listening will play a key part in giving customers and employees the proactive, real-time information they expect. Companies will heavily lean into AI to accomplish this as well to help increase their agility. Lastly, upping the game on corporate social responsibility will build trust in your audiences—enhancing experiences—and contributing to a brighter future. 

To win in 2022 and the years ahead, you must strive to be the bar others are measured against for great customer and employee experiences. To do that, it’s essential to recalibrate your priorities, and the operational and infrastructure strategies to manage them well.

Because the reality is that there will be recovery speedbumps...and 2022 will be an experiment in how well we plan for and meet that test.