The customer experience (CX) landscape has evolved at an unprecedented rate over the past few years. New technologies like AI have accelerated digital transformation, and the pandemic reshaped consumer expectations around the experiences companies deliver.
These changes left us curious: How exactly have customer experience professionals needed to evolve their initiatives? How have consumers' expectations evolved? And how can CX leaders successfully navigate this new environment?
To find the answers, we surveyed over 600 CX industry professionals and 1,000 consumers, ultimately discovering new trends that will transform how CX professionals work and engage with customers.
Keep reading this blog to learn more about our latest research on CX professionals and consumers, or grab your copy of the full report: The state of CX: Emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities.
Trend #1: Remote and hybrid work models are increasing in popularity
Our 2022 State of CX Report revealed that a majority of CX professionals (40%) were exclusively working in person, 39% adopted a hybrid approach combining in-person and remote work, and 20% worked entirely remotely.
Fast forward to 2023, and the landscape has shifted. The majority of CX professionals (45%) now operate in a hybrid environment, with 27% working remotely and 28% still working in person, highlighting a notable shift:
- 12.5% increase in hybrid work
- 35% increase in remote work
- 30% decrease in in-person work
In this evolving work landscape, where teams may be geographically dispersed, integrated tools that facilitate real-time CX data and insights are essential. As remote and hybrid work continue to rise, connectivity tools become even more vital to understand customer needs and foster meaningful customer connections.
Trend #2: The economy is causing disruptions for CX pros and consumers alike
The state of the economy is a major concern for CX experts, as 38% say the "evolving economic environment" is a top obstacle they expect their team to encounter this year.
As economic worry rises, CX professionals are concerned with their ability to make headwinds: 37% state that they must operate with reduced resources (e.g., budget or staff), and 35% say their companies are facing heightened customer churn.
At the same time, consumers are tightening their purse strings. Over the past year, 51% of consumers report cutting back on restaurant and dining; 44% say they’re decreasing spending on fashion, clothing, and accessories; and 39% say they’ve cut back on travel or transportation.
As consumers decrease spending in response to economic conditions, it becomes crucial to differentiate your brand through exceptional CX to drive retention, profits, and long-term loyalty.
Trend #3: Facing uncertainty, CX teams are prioritizing retention
Improving customer retention is the number one priority for CX teams in 2023. Thirty-nine percent of CX pros say a poor customer experience always contributes to churn, while 49% say it occasionally plays a part. These findings underscore the importance for organizations to prioritize initiatives to consistently improve the customer journey and drive loyalty.
When confronted with a subpar customer experience, 57% of consumers acknowledged that they would occasionally stop doing business with the company, whereas 18% stated they would always stop.
Consumers’ opinions about unsatisfactory experiences underscore the importance of CX initiatives for customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. Our research shows that consumers are highly inclined to share negative or poor customer experiences with their friends and family; 81% of consumers expressed that they are very likely or somewhat likely to share a poor experience with others.
Trend #4: CX pros want more investment in feedback programs
CX professionals want more investment in customer feedback programs (52%) and product feedback programs (47%), punctuating the value of gathering insights to enhance customer engagement. However, gaining executive buy-in to secure the capital and resources necessary to fund customer and product feedback programs isn’t an easy feat.
Here are some quick tips to obtain investment in feedback programs:
- Clearly articulate the benefits and outcomes of feedback programs to stakeholders and decision-makers.
- Illustrate how feedback programs can lead to improved customer satisfaction, increased customer retention, enhanced product development, and, ultimately, higher revenue.
- Use industry benchmarks to highlight how other organizations have successfully leveraged feedback programs to their advantage.
- Show how feedback programs align with the organization's business objectives and strategies.
- Showcase how feedback can inform marketing strategies, guide product roadmap decisions, and improve customer support processes.
Trend #5: CX professionals are optimistic about AI tools, but most consumers don’t share that sentiment
Most CX professionals are confident regarding the development of AI content-generation tools like ChatGPT. In fact, 63% of CX professionals anticipate artificial intelligence to impact the customer experience positively, and 82% say AI is a priority for their company.
While CX professionals are optimistic about the potential of artificial intelligence tools to enhance customer experiences, it is noteworthy that most consumers do not share that belief. Only 25% of consumers say AI will positively impact their experiences while interacting with companies, and 32% expect it to have a negative impact.
As AI technologies continue to evolve and reshape the way businesses interact with their customers, it is essential for CX pros to monitor and understand how consumers perceive and respond to them.
Read our latest AI and CX report, AI in the customer experience: The ups, downs, and up-and-coming opportunities, to learn more about artificial intelligence in the CX landscape.
Trend #6: Consumers are eager for personalized customer experiences
Personalization is increasingly becoming table stakes in today's digital-first buying landscape. In fact, 72% of consumers say personalization of products and services is important when considering the brands they like.
While 86% of CX professionals say that their customers receive a personalized experience all or most of the time throughout each step of the customer journey, consumers' responses paint a different picture. Only 8% of consumers felt that they received a personalized experience all the time, and 10% expressed that they never felt they received a personalized experience.
Personalized experiences can streamline the buying process, save customers time and effort, and help them make more informed purchasing decisions—which ultimately leads to increased satisfaction and loyalty.
Making every customer experience count
Facing economic uncertainty and heightened competition, customer experience professionals must maximize the impact of their efforts.
By leveraging real-time data and insights, CX teams can navigate these challenging circumstances with certainty, ensuring that each program initiative is in sync with their customer's ever-changing needs and preferences.
Download the full report to explore more emerging trends and inspiring ideas for strategic innovation.