Four Ways to Improve the Customer Experience in 2022 and Beyond

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We might already be a month into 2022, but there’s still time to consider what we should be focusing on over the next year with regards to improving the customer experience.

Areas including accessibility and inclusivity, personalisation, and the importance of a collaborative, customer-centric approach are all likely to be high on our agendas as we work toward delivering the multi-channel experience our customers deserve.

A customer-centric approach to collaboration

Today’s multi-channel customer experiences are complex, comprising a set of digital applications, such as mobile, web, and chat among others. There are additional non-digital touchpoints, too, like live agent customer service and ambient brand exposure. All these touchpoints must be considered to create a smooth and satisfactory customer journey experience. This requires collaboration between every part of an organisation that works on every piece of that customer journey.

The level of complexity in communication and collaboration can be overwhelming, though, particularly across several digital properties and departments. There are different ways of addressing this, which depend on the size of the company, its teams, and its current organisational structure, but none of these are without friction.

As this collaborative approach becomes ever more important, we’d recommend that every employee should think and act with the customer in mind, so that every decision and action can be informed by a customer-centric mindset. In some cases, it may be necessary to raise awareness to firmly instil that mindset, allowing every new employee to use a company’s products or solutions, for example, or creating visually appealing customer journey maps and sharing them with the organisation.

None of this is possible without executive buy-in, of course. So, we’d expect to see the C-suite taking a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to enabling greater collaboration across their organisation.

Committing to greater accessibility and inclusivity

Accessibility and inclusivity have come a long way in recent years. Indeed, more than two-thirds of respondents to a 2021 survey said digital accessibility was a priority for their company. Transitioning from a reactive culture, where accessibility audits were conducted only when necessary, we’re now at a stage where awareness is actively promoted, products are designed with accessibility in mind, and developers write code with accessibility built in. This culture is further solidified by the introduction of accessibility design reviews, the creation of design systems with an accessibility-first mindset, and in-sprint accessibility testing.

Our view on inclusivity has expanded too. Where once we were only concerned with assistive technologies and disabilities, we’re now looking at inclusivity in a broader context, such as considering older adults as a population, or people with varied cultural backgrounds and beliefs.

We’re not there yet, though. Good intentions aren’t enough on their own. As the year progresses, companies will need to commit to thinking and acting with deliberation.

Personalisation and the importance of planning

We’re continuing to move toward better, more personalised experiences, particularly due to recent advances in the application of AI technology. Overall, though, we’re still struggling with what users perceive as basic personalisation. More work needs to be done to get it right.

While this is no easy undertaking, it is hugely important. When you consider that effective personalisation can account for as much as a 50 percent reduction in acquisition costs, it’s clear that brands need to keep their eyes on the prize.

In addition, while a solid approach to a product’s design and implementation is vital, ensuring the best possible customer experience means you should never overlook the planning and testing phases. Planning involves evaluating what your users need and want throughout their journey, and their interactions with your brand. It also accounts for how you’ll measure success and what’s needed for a successful execution. A solid plan will keep all parties on the same page and keep costs down, while testing digital products throughout the development phase, and focusing on gathering user feedback across the entire customer journey is equally critical to ensuring consistent success.

It’s reasonable to expect, then, that as we go through 2022, we’ll see a greater focus from brands on planning and testing to support their efforts in designing more accessible, personalised customer journeys.

A more holistic view

Brands are increasingly aware that their main area of competition is the user experience of their products, and the overall experience their customers have with them as a brand. So, rather than focusing on specific aspects such as accessibility, inclusion, and personalisation, brands are likely to focus on achieving a superb, (mostly) frictionless, end-to-end user experience across multiple channels. The key will be to take a more holistic view toward improving customer experience during 2022, and those brands that commit to this holistic approach are likely to be those that emerge successful.

About the Author

Inge De Bleecker is CX/UX Consultant to Applause.

Inge De Bleecker, Senior Director of User Experience, ApplauseInge is a customer and user experience leader, consultant and author who helps companies create great experiences across the customer journey with a focus on conversational experiences. Inge established and grew Applause’s CX practice and continues to collaborate with Applause on CX strategy. She holds an MA from the University of Texas, Austin.

Inge’s book, Remote Usability Testing: Actionable insights in user behavior across geographies and time zones, which she co-authored with Rebecca Okoroji, is listed as one of Book Authority’s best new usability books of 2020. Along with Okoroji, Inge created the USERIndex benchmark — a standardized means of measuring the user experience of a digital interface. As part of the USERIndex, Inge believes that an exceptional user experience is determined by 4 USER factors: usefulness, satisfaction, ease of use and reliability.

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