CX in 2022
What will the big customer experience trends be in 2022? AR and personalisation will be at the fore says Paige O’Neill from Sitecore
Since the beginning of the pandemic, customer behavior and expectations have changed significantly. Online suddenly became the only channel available to shop and interact with a brand, and for marketers and retailers, providing a seamless and personalised digital experience became a top priority. In fact, Sitecore research carried out earlier this year found that a revolution was already underway in terms of the future of customer experience, with over three quarters (77%) of UK marketers fundamentally changing their customer experience strategy in response to the pandemic.
As we look towards 2022, quality customer experience remains as important as ever in order for brands to attract and retain customers. Personalisation is set to remain a focus but will evolve into 1:1 experiences for customers, trust will be essential as the use of third-party cookies come to an end, and AR will come to the fore to bring physical and digital spaces together.
Here are five trends that will define customer experience in 2022.
Hybrid is here to stay
In the year ahead, retailers will ramp up investments in digital technologies that promote buying online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) or click-and-connect as fulfillment for omnichannel shopping. This model delivers the speed consumers want but can also be slowed down by ongoing supply chain issues. New tech adoption can’t come soon enough.
Our Holiday Trends 2021 Report showed nearly half of 400 marketers surveyed said this holiday season was the last chance to prove the value of their physical stores. The challenge to adapt has never been more clearly defined, especially that now more than ever consumers expect customised, interactive shopping experiences.
As third-party cookies sunset, marketers must build trust
Customers don’t owe marketers their data. It’s not a right. As consumers become more privacy-sensitive, marketers must enable customers to take charge of – or be a part of – how their personal information is collected, stored, and acted upon. From there, brands must build a solid foundation using that data.
Technology must capture, unify, and activate omnichannel strategies that morph marketing outreach into personalised experiences based on each customer’s unique wants and needs. Of course, without third party cookies or other surreptitious data sources, marketers will need to make a compelling case – and be prepared to provide real value – for access to ‘want’ data like past purchases, favorite brands, color preferences and sizes. For example, if a customer gives a retail brand the green light to store her shoe size and favorite brands, she should expect a discount code in her inbox immediately, and an email every time Louboutin's are on sale. If that consumer gets irrelevant marketing or no reward, there will be no relationship.
Personalised experiences will keep customers from abandoning purchases
Supply chain issues may result in frustrated shoppers who go somewhere else when the gift they want isn’t available. Retailers can battle abandoned purchases by personalising a shopper’s experience using browsing histories and AI-pattern matching to recommend the next best fit available product. Depending on the item, it may be a different color, have a few various features, or come from another manufacturer.
Still, it's far better in the retailer/customer relationship than a “sorry, that’s out of stock” message. Data-driven personalisation also presents an opportunity for retailers, especially those with a brick-and-mortar presence, to offer a more bespoke, hybrid experience that feels more like personal shopping and aims the consumer at what is in stock and readily available.
The next level of personalisation is customising engaging content that feels 1:1.
New interactive channels pop up every day to feed consumers’ voracious appetites for instant gratification and their desire to customise what they want and how to get it. Rapid change is turning brands into anticipators of need. The challenge is being part of the conversation as consumers can block out noise from brands they don’t like or find irrelevant.
Personalisation requires a lot of content, which consumers will then configure based on individual interests. Typically, customers see 3% of the content a brand puts out. They define how much is too much. Thoughtful brands realise this. Customised information drives loyalty, repurchasing, and retention. We’ve seen this with subscription services. You can get your favorite razor delivered every month without ever contacting the vendor. The next phase may be a “Buy Now” box popping up on a TV ad, and with one click, an order is complete.
Augmented reality is the next marketing frontier
Augmented reality (AR) applications – and virtual reality (VR) – are bringing physical and digital spaces together and will grow as marketers see the versatility and convenience they offer.
Companies like Wayfair allow users to see furniture in their spaces before purchasing. Warby Parker lets eyeglass shoppers try on frames using a webcam. AR isn’t limited to online shopping. Shoppers visiting a physical store can use their smartphones to scan a QR code to see product details instantly, see items in stock and their exact location in-store, and even “try on” a new shade of lipstick on their phone screen. AR and VR create unique experiences and convey value to customers looking for personalised options.
The pandemic was a catalyst for change in customer experience – essentially, the customer that was expected to turn up in 2030 turned up in 2020.In 2022, brands must embrace the next phase of CX – blending in-store and online experiences seamlessly as customers shop across multiple channels, getting to grips with AR and moving to the next, even more tailored, form of personalisation.