Customer engagement in 2022 is so far away from what we experienced a decade ago; we should rename it to “customer expectations.” What used to take a week to arrive on our doorsteps now takes an hour. Our software was sold on discs and arrived in days, and now you subscribe using the internet in an instant, and you can cancel anytime.
So the systems that deliver customer experience have to be optimized and updated too. According to Lithium, 78% of customers who complain to a brand on Twitter expect a response within an hour. That would have been unheard of before social media.
Here are five ways startups and enterprises will change the customer experience in 2022 to stay competitive and retain their clients.
More companies will turn to customer support automation by using chatbots and voice bots
Customer experience teams are being asked to do more with less budget. That means they need to get creative and innovative about serving their customers. You can still deliver a great customer experience using chatbots and voice bots. Just remember to make it easy for someone to get to a live agent if needed.
For example, a food delivery company can add a voice bot to help when someone’s order has issues. Voicebot tech has gotten to the level that they can understand whole sentences and not just words, so it would be easy to diagnose the problem and provide a fix without needing a live agent’s help for this.
NPS will become the top indicator for measuring the performance of customer engagement
Net Promoter Score or NPS is an excellent signal of the overall happiness of a customer. Are they loyal and raving fans, or are they speaking badly about you?
NPS can tell you this. Using NPS gives you the best overall picture. Then you’re not caught up in measuring things like how long it takes an agent to answer the phone. If someone has to wait on hold for another minute, but then the person they speak with gives them the best service they’ve ever received, you can be sure they won’t care much about having to wait another minute on hold. Focusing on NPS will be especially useful for direct-to-consumer companies because they have many customers, and reviews are crucial for online shopping.
Think about how often you talk with friends about a new product or company you bought something from. Or think about how often you check reviews before going to a new restaurant or working with a local vendor. So much of today’s company success happens through its reputation and the experience its customers have. If you have a crappy relationship with your customers, it will be hard to stay in business for long.
Podcasts will become a primary channel for how customers learn from their vendors
Podcast listeners have grown to a whopping 116 million in the last twelve months in the US.
And this isn’t just a national trend.
This is happening globally.
The percentage of podcast listeners in other countries is significant.
Many companies are launching their podcasts as a way to create thought leadership. They often bring outside experts in as guests to avoid coming across as self-promotional, and to show themselves as a peer to the leading voice in the sector. This is a great way to engage with existing customers and keep them viewing you as a valuable resource, and it is an excellent way to engage with new people who aren’t yet customers.
Attendance for in-person industry events for 2022 will stay at 2021 levels, but the hybrid will explode
Many people have already gone to industry events in the second half of 2021, but a large portion of the population is hesitant to go to large gatherings. These people will probably still avoid large meetings and industry events until the pandemic is wholly gone. That means industry event attendance for 2022 will still be similar to 2021 levels.
The number of conferences holding minimal attendance with strict vaccination certificates and PCR test events will also broadcast the event to online ticket holders, meaning that the attendance is likely to be much higher than that of the in-person events throughout the year.
Hybrid events, and those that stream all stages or the main stages online, with extra access available to those that upgrade their tickets, are seeing huge increases in both attendees and social capital.
The number of teams focused on customer retention will grow rapidly
Studies like the research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. That’s significant and shows that it is much more cost-effective to retain existing customers than acquire completely new customers. Companies will invest even more in customer retention teams across customer support, customer success, sales, and marketing. Product management teams will start to shape their roadmaps around this too. This will probably happen faster for B2B software companies because losing one customer can sometimes mean losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There’s a hidden side benefit to this also – employee retention. On average, it costs $15,000 more to hire a new employee than to retain the existing one, and retained clients mean happy, high morale employees who want to continue to share in the success of their employer.
How to get ready for 2022 and a flawless customer experience
Should you follow the trends listed to succeed or start with baby steps? Of course, you can begin with one of these, but you should create a plan for all of them as part of your 2022 annual plan. On the other hand, are there any traditional techniques for customer engagement companies should abandon due to their ineffectiveness?
The short answer; Yes.
Companies that rely only on email communication – especially with the dreaded “we’ll reply within 24 hours” – will lose many customers.
As will those that are not using video communication. A better strategy would be to use AI chatbots or voice bots to answer the 100+ most common questions, and then seamlessly hand over to a human agent when a more in-depth reply is needed. This not only gives better customer service, but it makes the job more rewarding for those agents, and they are less likely to churn, which keeps rehiring costs low.
So, what piece of advice should you follow if you are just starting to build your business?
Be customer-obsessed, automate where possible, and don’t give up. Your customers will be the ones to make you successful, so invest in engaging with them from the start and put all of these strategies in place for next year, or you won’t be talking to your clients within their expectations.
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