The Top Three Customer Experience Predictions for 2022

Despite a challenging two years, now is an incredible time for customer experience (CX). The most successful brands have embraced challenges and turned a moment into a movement to push change and create something new with better systems, better technology, and better strategies. It's ultimately paved the way for a new understanding of brand purpose, a better employee experience, and an elevated customer experience. Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, three big things will shape the future and take CX to the next level.

Karyn Furstman

1. The purpose-driven brand

If you've been following along in the CX community, you'll know that being a purpose-driven brand is no longer an option; it’s an expectation. And this theme will continue for a good reason. Customers and employees alike have come to expect that the brands they support have a clear purpose, understand their intent, and actually live out their ideals. But you know what? Employees demand the same. Employees want to work for – and customers want to buy from – brands they believe in.

Essentially, this means that being purpose-driven isn't just a trend; it's a top priority for executives and business leaders who recognise its business value. And the data supports this, too. Designit's research found that 70% of executives prioritise purpose-led initiatives to become or stay industry leaders, and 63% focus on environmental, social, and governance initiatives. But of course, it's one thing to want to become purpose-driven, define core values, and figure out the 'why' behind the business, and a whole other thing to put it into practice. It's not enough anymore to simply have values displayed on a landing page for employees or customers to see.

Employees are holding brands accountable from the inside, too – asking questions like, Is my company really cultivating the inclusive environment they claim to support? And customers are holding them responsible from the outside – for example, Is this brand really putting action and money behind its claim of environmental sustainability? Customers, employees, and brands have finally recognised and internalised the need for real action, which is part of the excitement about where CX is today: There's so much opportunity to make meaningful changes that have a genuine business impact. Brands that 'walk the walk' and invite every stakeholder – from the employee to the customer, to the vendor and the partner – into that mission will find themselves well-positioned to push for real change in 2022.

2. The great (employee) experience

Maybe you've heard terms like 'The great resignation' or 'The great reshuffle' to explain how employees are re-evaluating their individual purpose and how (or whether) they live out that purpose at work. This, among other economic factors, has resulted in a record number of people deciding to re-evaluate, switch, or resign from their jobs. Employers are also seeing record numbers of jobs open to be filled. There's another term I like to use, with awareness that 'The great resignation' and 'The great reshuffle' in large part have led us here: 'The great experience'. Experience is now paramount, both to the consumer and the employee. So, what will that mean for the employee experience (EX) in the coming year?

To keep employees happy, businesses have to understand that they need to deliver and invest in EX. This investment pays in more ways than just a satisfied workforce – the employee experience impacts the customer experience as well. In fact, customers are paying more attention to how brands treat their employees and are increasingly willing to switch their business to brands that treat employees well. This is more than a trend. This reflects a change in mindset that will likely continue to grow and mature as customers increasingly take other factors into account like brand purpose, environmental progress, and social responsibility.

What will it take, then, not just to keep employees at your company but to make sure that they're actually engaged? A theme we continue to see is a need to help employees connect their purpose with your brand's purpose. After almost two years of unexpected challenges, businesses must continue, and possibly even increase, their efforts to communicate with employees transparently. This means listening to them and taking an empathetic approach to help them overcome their hurdles. Brands that help employees understand their individual purpose and how it ties to the work they do every day will be able to adapt and evolve throughout the year ahead.

3. Connected data is key

At the core of experience management is the customer experience. In 2022 and beyond, knowing your customer will become more important than ever. So, what's the best way brands can come to understand their customer? Data. Connected data collected through various systems and inputs will be the way of the future. But data alone isn't enough. It's one thing to collect meaningful data, but it needs to be acted upon.

Many traditional approaches like surveys, customer research, and even voice-of-customer programs look backwards rather than forward, making it impossible to meet customers where they are. But things change quickly, and brands need to be able to meet ever-evolving needs. As a result, brands will need to be inventive to collect meaningful data and create genuine connections with customers.

But how are you going to do that? To provide the most value to customers and strengthen your business, you should spend more time thinking about how you can make meaningful changes to meet evolving customer needs, maintain or shift customer perceptions, and adapt to new purchasing behaviours and preferences. A holistic and effective CX strategy that understands the customer from the outside-in can help you create meaningful connections, empowering customers, and employees alike into 2022 and beyond.

Dive into these ideas and more in our white paper, When upheaval leads to elevation.