Experts Reveal Customer Experience Trends For 2023

4 min read

February 08, 2023

In the 20th century, customers had far more limited choices than now. You could shop at the hardware store on the corner or the one miles down the road — provided you were in a big enough city to support two hardware stores.

With limited choice comes limited power to take your business elsewhere if you’re unsatisfied with the experience. Now the balance of power has shifted. Customers have virtually unlimited options, both in the brick-and-mortar and online worlds. This means that excellent customer experience (CX) is the only thing keeping your customers from looking elsewhere.

Mitel UKISA Country Sales Director, Nick Riggott, chatted with expert Dan Gingiss about current trends in CX and how business owners can improve CX now and prepare for what comes next.

Watch: Defining and Differentiating Your CX in 2023: What are the Trends?

Focus on What You Can Control

Customer expectations have never been higher. But there are aspects of CX that are outside of a brand’s control — delays in the supply chain, for example, rising inflation or a resurgent pandemic. As Nick puts it, businesses had big plans for 2019-2020 until “Boom! A wrecking ball through the side of the building.” It can seem daunting to consistently meet customer expectations in an uncertain environment.

Dan recommends focusing on what you can do. For instance, it made sense that businesses were unprepared for a sudden shift to remote work and virtual call centers. But it wouldn’t be as forgivable to make that mistake again. Preparation is a vital part of great CX in tumultuous times.

Set Expectations and Communicate

Of course, no business can plan for every eventuality. That’s why communication is the other critical component. Help set customer expectations and update them whenever possible. Many customers might be willing to wait two weeks for a delayed shipment due to supply chain issues. Few would be amenable to waiting for two weeks without an apology or explanation.

Expectation-setting is especially important for SMBs, Dan says. No one expects a small family business to provide 24/7 live customer support. But customers need to know when they can expect a speedy response and which channel is the best to reach out on.

The key, Nick says, is to set sustainable practices. Make promises to customers that you can keep without working 18-hour days or burning through your employees. If your business sets expectations and lives up to them, you can ensure a good customer experience.

Asynchronous Communication Gives Customers More Options

Would you rather wait on hold for an hour or send a text and go about your day while you wait for a text back? Most customers would choose the latter. Asynchronous communication, like texts and social media direct messages, can provide a better customer experience. And they can do it without requiring SMBs to have an enterprise-size customer contact center.

The only caveat is that asynchronous communication needs to be part of the ongoing conversation with the customer. Nick refers to this trait as “conversational memory:” A true omnichannel approach ensures that employees have access to customer information from every channel, so customers never have to repeat themselves.

How to Start Improving CX

The easiest way to know what your customers want is to ask them! Dan tells the story of a bank website greeting him daily with “Good morning, Daniel.” In theory, that’s a good use of personalization to provide better CX. In practice, Dan doesn’t like to be called Daniel. So it was a daily reminder that this bank didn’t know him.

Ask simple questions like:

  • What do you like to be called?
  • What are your pronouns?
  • What channel should we use to contact you?

And once you have those answers, make sure to store them on a platform that every employee has access to.

Get a Customer’s-Eye View

The quickest way to find easy CX fixes, says Dan, is to become a customer of your own business. Use your website, walk into your retail store — anything you’re asking customers to do.

Too often, we view the customer experience from a different angle than our customers do. We can’t see the minor irritants or significant roadblocks that keep them from having the best experience.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is bound to uncover easy fixes that can significantly impact customer experience.

Make Incremental Changes that Add Up

Improving CX can seem daunting, especially for businesses with limited resources and budgets. But Dan reminds us that you don’t have to attempt a massive overhaul of your company all at once. Instead, focus on small changes that improve the experience or remove friction points and irritants.

“If you’re always looking at small changes you can make, you’re going to wake up one morning and find your CX is vastly better than it was,” Dan says.

Nick adds that it takes an organization-wide commitment to make even incremental changes: “Make sure that all the individual stakeholders within an organization are engaged and committed,” he says, to ensure success.

Employee Experience and CX

Your employees are the face of your business, delivering either a good or bad customer experience. They need to be fully equipped to serve customers best.

Empower and Support Remote and Hybrid Workers

Dan believes that there are more advantages than disadvantages to hybrid work. On the business side, you can hire people who are the best for the job — not just the best in a 30-mile radius.

On the employee side, working from home can be a better experience than working in an office. You can have more free time, more flexibility, and less commute. This adds up to happier employees who are more likely to provide great CX.

It’s essential to give your remote employees the information and the empowerment to serve customers best, too. They should have access to complete customer histories and the autonomy to make decisions that improve CX. Nothing kills a great experience faster than an employee having to wait on hold for managerial approval.

“The key word is empowerment,” Dan says. Let employees be their best selves, use their best skill sets, and even make mistakes that lead to learning.

Foster Community and Connection

One potential downside to remote and hybrid work is a loss of shared culture. This can leave employees feeling isolated and disconnected from work rather than investing in a shared community.

Dan recommends that business leaders facilitate a connection between employees, promoting and modeling healthy communication and ensuring everyone feels valued and supported.

As Nick observes, business leaders have learned how much the traditional office environment can translate to remote and hybrid workers. As we now have more capabilities for face-to-face interaction, the challenge will be to choose the right venue for the right conversation. Some meetings can be over video conference, for example, while some could benefit from the in-person experience.

Communication Is Key

Communication is the foundation for providing a great employee experience, meeting customer expectations, and improving customer experience. Whether your employees are remote, hybrid, or on-site, their ability to communicate with each other, with leadership, and with customers will determine their ability to provide great CX.

Watch the full interview with Dan Gingiss and Nick Riggott to learn more.

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