2023 outlook: Customer engagement and customer experience trends
We’re sharing our 2023 predictions for customer experience trends and customer engagement trends to watch for businesses that want to level up in the new year.
We are already two months into 2023 and it has been an intense start already. So what does the balance of the year hold in store?
Reviewing the challenges of the past few years is a good place to start as those trends are shaping the future. Like most of the pandemic years, 2022 presented many hurdles for businesses just starting to get back on their feet or those doubling down on resiliency.
As many organisations adjust to a “new normal,” we’re seeing that the consumer expectations that arose out of necessity in response to the pandemic aren’t waning: A desire for quality in-person, delivery and digital customer experiences are even stronger. This means that in 2023, every touch point still matters and should be done with intentionality.
As market volatility continues with the economic downturn, record-breaking inflation rates, and skyrocketing utility costs, focusing on customer engagement and customer experience is more imperative than ever for businesses to create cost efficiencies while meeting heightened expectations.
So, what trends in customer service do we expect to see this year? Here, we’ll share our 2023 predictions for customer experience trends and customer engagement trends to watch.
What’s the difference between customer experience and customer engagement?
Customer engagement and customer experience are intertwined — you can’t have one without the other — but they are different.
Customer engagement is how you maintain contact with a client throughout their brand experience and how you provide value beyond your product or service. It’s building and maintaining relationships through omnichannel communication, which can take place on everything from your website and mobile apps to community forums, help desks, social media, and email. Customer engagement gets your clientele involved and encourages them to interact with you in the future.
Customer experience, sometimes referred to as CX, meanwhile, is a consumer’s overall impression of what it’s like to interact with your brand. Think of it as the archetypal story pattern of the hero’s journey: Your customer’s adventure with your brand — which is subjective, based on their perceptions and expectations — will ideally exceed their desires and transform them in some way at the end, converting them into brand loyalists who spread the good news.
Customer experience trends and customer engagement trends to watch in 2023
There are a few key trends to watch in the customer service space for the new year, but overall, everything comes back to maintaining a focus on what customers crave, creating memorable experiences for them, and investing in technology that makes everyone’s lives easier.
Customer experience trends we expect to see in 2023 include:
- Environmentally conscious consumers. Customers want to support companies that are going the extra mile to be sustainable (which may very well mean removing those extra miles!), and they’re evermore willing to pay a higher price for eco-conscious products and services. In fact, consumer willingness to pay more for sustainable goods increased by an average of 8% from 2021 to 2022, and 88% of customers say they check the sustainability of a product before at least some purchases.
If you can find ways to be more sustainable — whether replacing some or all of your fleet with electric vehicles, using a routing system to get the most fuel-efficient paths between jobs and communicating effectively so you don’t have any wasted journeys — your customers will notice.
“Greenwashing was a huge challenge in 2022, and businesses who were guilty of doing so were held to account,” said Tim Andrew, CEO of Localz. “In 2023, we will see businesses start to deliver on sustainability promises. With road transportation accounting for 13% of all carbon emissions, we will see further implementation of electric vans and service vehicles, and digital-only customer communications becoming the new norm.”
- On-demand and digital services. Customers want to be in control of their day. They’ve experienced the real-time autonomy, transparency and efficiency of deliveries that businesses like Amazon and Doordash offer — and the ease of curbside pickup, too — and they now desire the same on-demand services from the field service industry. Consumers expect to see accurate ETA times or their place in the queue and to be able to make changes to an appointment on the fly at the touch of a button.
“In 2023, we will see the services industry adopt the same on-demand consumer experiences from the B2C sector as a standard expectation,” Andrew said. “Accuracy and efficiency targets will become more aggressive so the B2B industry can match up with customer expectations."
- Real-time updates. Like on-demand and digital services, real-time updates on the arrival of operatives are more popular than ever. They’re becoming a make-or-break factor in the field service industry — one that keeps customers coming back for more, or pushes them to your competition. If you can’t offer appointment reminders; a short, accurate ETA window; and the ability for customers to view exactly where they are in the queue of jobs for that day, you’ll lose out.
- Lower customer budgets. More than ever, you need to be top-of-mind for consumers. When customers are investing in fewer experiences because of inflation, it means that every experience matters that much more. Customer spending growth is forecasted to drop in 2023 due to the additional strain of inflation and a looming recession, so your customer service experience will significantly influence and impact how people change (or continue) their spending habits.
- Strategies to combat staffing shortages. Labour shortages have been a big obstacle for many businesses since the start of the pandemic, and they’ve led to some negative customer experiences. Utilising creative methods like artificial intelligence (AI) can combat this, as well as reduce costs and improve CX. Take optimised resource allocation, for example, where AI can schedule resources in a way that reduces workload and leverages available capacity to the fullest extent. Likewise, self-service options and automation like chatbots and geo-triggered notifications offer fast answers and alerts for customers and free up your call centre staff to handle more pressing matters.
- Phygital brands. A seamless transition between physical and digital channels — or a “phygital” experience — is a hit with customers, who got used to businesses employing this method during the pandemic. They’ll continue to seek brands with consistent options in the coming year. Some examples of phygital experiences include opening a menu on a smartphone, buying online and picking up or returning in-store, and using augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) to test a product before making a purchase. We’re likely to see this space expand beyond apps and kiosks in the next couple of years.
Customer engagement trends we expect to see in 2023 include:
- Automation and self-service. In the new year, it will become imperative to address staffing shortages. Automation and self-service are great strategies for creating channels through which customers can engage with your brand while reducing the burden on your staff. (Not to mention, 86% of customers expect a self-service option.)
- Tools like chatbots and FAQs let customers quickly and easily answer simple questions at their leisure, while customer portals allow them to confirm or change appointment details on their own time — all touchpoints that still keep customers engaged and feeling like they matter to your brand.
- Personalisation. More than 60% of shoppers say that brands that don’t deliver personalised content will lose their loyalty. And while personalisation is in high demand, many companies still aren’t providing it — so getting ahead of this trend will give you a leg up against your competition.
- AI. Once a futuristic-sounding concept, AI is now accessible to many industries, including field service. The technology can help with the simplification, streamlining, and enhancement of many processes — such as creating efficiency in route management, automating resource allocation, and forecasting future issues like weather events. It all leads to a reduction in guesswork and errors, better planning and preparation, and enhanced agility.
- Preventative maintenance. Although it’s not really a new trend, predictive maintenance is becoming more advanced. Unplanned downtime has a huge cost, and utilising preventative maintenance technology will monitor system performance and spot potential issues before they become a problem.
Prepare for the future of customer support trends today with the help of LocalzThe CX and customer engagement landscape is changing, and it’s crucial to keep up with the trends to maintain and grow your customer base. As the market remains volatile in 2023 and inflation continues to rise, customer-centric brands and those that invest in creating positive customer service experiences will be the ones that come out on top this year.
And Localz can help you stand out. Our highly configurable, modular solutions are built to make the day of service awesome and to provide memorable touchpoints throughout a customer’s journey with your brand.
We help you empower your customer engagement and customer experience with features like:
- Automated ETA and geo-triggered notifications before, on, and after the day of service
- Omnichannel communication options
- Customer portals that allow for appointment rescheduling, confirming, and cancellation
- Real-time updates to routing and scheduling for technicians
- Customisable levels of GPS tracking to provide accurate ETA windows
- Operational statistics, dispatch and job management, multiparty chat, and real-time feedback for service recovery for back-office staff
- And more