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Customer engagement trends to watch out for in 2022

by Norman Miglietta

2022 is set to redefine the customer experience. 

Whether it’s making their lives easier, adding a touch of convenience to everyday moments, or giving consumers confidence their money is going to a good cause – the customer experience is quickly becoming this year’s most significant differentiator for business. According to PwC, 73% of consumers say the customer experience drives their buying decisions, with 42% willing to pay more if their experience is positive.

But what does a positive experience look like, and how can you ensure you deliver one?

Trend 1: Give consumers instant and seamless convenience

After the outbreak of COVID-19, businesses offered increasingly digital interactions, meaning consumers became accustomed to instant gratification. Grocery stores offered same-day delivery, attractions enabled contactless entry and payment, while new subscription and loyalty services came to market. Brands that promptly learned to provide flawless experiences quickly gained market share and they’re set to continue winning in 2022. 

In fact, a quarter of consumers say they would leave a brand after a single bad experience, and 59% would switch to a competitor after several bad experiences. Essentially, today’s consumers know what they want, and will not tolerate brands that don’t deliver it. That being said, getting the latest tech to dazzle your customers is not as critical as you think: 80% of consumers say convenience and speed take precedence over slick UX design – if anything, they hardly notice new tech unless it gets in their way. 

For brands still recovering from a tough couple of years during the pandemic, this is great news. It means they can satisfy customers’ need for immediate engagement without having to invest huge sums in new systems. Whether you want to enable contactless, speedy in-store and online transactions, or enable rewards at any checkout point, chances are you can do so with your existing tech.

Trend 2: Earn customer loyalty with mass and hyper-personalized, data-led experiences

The prominence of digital doesn’t just mean speed and convenience, it also offers brands an unmissable opportunity at every interaction a customer has with your brand – whether browsing your website, redeeming a voucher, or purchasing an item – to provide you with a goldmine of information about their habits, preferences, and buying behavior. And it’s leading to a new trend of engagement this year – the emergence of mass-personalization and even hyper-personalization. 

With mass-personalization, anonymized customer data is gathered, segmented and grouped together. With hyper-personalization, customers who opt-in can have their individual data used for more customized offers based on their profile and behavior. Much like the series of breadcrumbs that led Hansel and Grettel to the gingerbread house, every piece of data you collect about your customers gives you actionable insights to personalize their experience and lead them on a journey you know they’ll enjoy. And it pays off, too: brands with a focus on the customer experience are 60% more profitable than those that don’t. And our research shows 1 in 3 are willing to pay more if they receive more personalized promotions.

Trend 3: Overcome staff shortages with automation

In the U.S. alone, Four million workers resigned from their jobs nationwide in July 2021. Dubbed The Great Resignation, it’s now a Choice Economy where skilled employees are in high demand, making hiring and retaining staff all that more difficult. The latest numbers reveal that the so-called Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down, although it isn’t affecting all job sectors equally. About 6.9% of those working in the accommodation and food services sectors quit in November 2021. As a result, we’re seeing increased demand for automation, so employees can focus on more complex tasks that add value to the customer experience. 

While a careful balance needs to be struck between automation and human-led experiences, the benefit for the business is twofold. You have lower overheads for staffing costs, and those employees you do hire have more time to focus on high-value tasks that drive customer satisfaction. Automation should not replace interactions with staff. But, for brands wanting to truly delight their customers, with limited personnel, tapping into the right technology to put the human touch back where it matters will be critical in 2022. This is particularly true in service related industries with high levels of customer interaction. For restaurants, the cost of investing in a POS system for food ordering and payments could quickly be offset by providing faster service, higher food orders and increased customer satisfaction, thus leading to more repeat visits.

Tap into your potential in 2022

While every sector faced incredible challenges over the last two years, recovery and growth are within grasp for brands that put the customer experience at the center of their 2022 strategy. Whether upgrading your customer-facing POS systems, introducing a new loyalty scheme, or identifying the right touch points for contactless or human interaction in your business, you need to move quickly to meet – and stay ahead of – consumer expectations. 

If you’re unsure where to start, or want to check your adopting the right approach, get in touch.

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