Top CX Trends of 2023

As we enter the new year, the climate for consumers will be different than the past few years. The robust economy of recent times has given way to inflation and interest rate spikes that haven’t been seen in years, if not decades. Everyone has been more cautious about spending, and many sectors are seeing wave after wave of layoffs.

These may seem like unrelated events, but they all have a role to play in defining the state of customer service in 2023 and will have implications for contact centers. There are two main lenses through which these factors must be filtered: customer experience (CX) and agent experience (AX). This post will address the outlook for top CX trends in 2023 – here are two trends that contact centers will need to align with, especially since the weak economic outlook will likely persist throughout 2023.

CX Trend: Make it Personal

A weak economy impacts everyone, so it is important for contact centers to understand how this impacts their customers. Fortunately, there are some parallels to the pandemic, where businesses were forced to adapt to many new realities they hadn’t previously planned for. Most  organizations adapted well by supporting contact center agents who were working remotely, and investing more in new technology to automate service as traffic volumes spiked. There certainly were bumps along the way, but as customer expectations changed during the pandemic, contact centers responded effectively.

Businesses will now be called to do the same in 2023 as the forces of change will be out of their control. With consumers being more careful about spending, CX will take on even greater importance. For businesses to survive in this economy, customer retention becomes paramount, as it will become harder to upsell current customers and attract new customers. Poor CX gives customers a good reason to buy elsewhere, so contact center leaders need to recognize the increased importance of investing in the right technologies to make CX the best it can be.

When considering new technology, it’s important to focus on the outcomes needed for improved CX. At minimum, the basic outcomes need to be covered – fast response time, first contact resolution (FCR) and offering a seamless experience. Those factors never change, but in a tight economy, today’s digital customers also want to feel valued and have personalized forms of service.

This is exactly why artificial intelligence (AI) adoption is so important. AI enables more intelligent forms of service based on customer preferences, enabling contact center agents to make every interaction a personalized experience. This won’t happen overnight, but as with the pandemic, this represents another high stakes shift in the landscape. If you’re not on the path to AI yet, this might be the strongest use case to make that move.

CX Trend: Enhance Security and Privacy

This CX trend is more practical, but one that will be essential to support in 2023. Security and privacy are always important, but the need is pronounced in a tough economy. When people are anxious about job security, higher prices, and rising debt, they become susceptible to all kinds of schemes. Bad actors know that fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) are powerful emotions to tap, and all of these will be heightened in this environment.

Unfortunately, this is a messy, complex problem. Consumers become unwitting targets, and the damage only comes to light after the fact. Contact centers themselves are also targets, especially when a customer’s identity is breached, and fraudsters use that data to make illicit purchases. There are hundreds of fraudulent scenarios that are designed to flow through contact centers, and overall, this represents several levels of risk – not just to the contact center, but the business and its brand.

For contact center leaders, the call-to-action is to strive for best-in-class security and an elevated need to protect customer privacy. This may be the norm for maintaining compliance requirements in regulated sectors, but there’s much more at stake. Robocalling is one example of how customers are being abused and how trust in using telephony as a communication channel is being badly eroded.

When this type of activity becomes attached to your brand, the contact center will fall under heavy scrutiny. A good resource to better understand the breadth is the Do Not Call report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Take a look at the figures on page seven – complaints of robocalls are significantly higher than live callers. Other countries are also seeing a high number of nuisance calls.

There are many approaches contact centers can take to mitigate security and privacy threats, but AI should be viewed as a key part of the solution. Instead of AI being touted as a cost-saving approach to service automation, the focus here should be on how other facets of AI can be applied to these threats.

Machine learning and conversational AI are good examples, as they are the building blocks of solutions that can detect anomalies to identify, or help contact center agents identify, security and privacy threats in real-time and at scale. Legacy-based technologies cannot do this, and in anticipation of a challenging economy, this will be an important trend for contact centers to heed in 2023.

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