- By Keith Kirkpatrick
- January 3, 2023
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to recede into the background throughout 2022, the CX market homed in on serving customers that were increasingly digital, demanding, and DIY. Across nearly all industries, CX practitioners and vendors trained their focus on providing truly omnichannel experiences (including self-service), while improving the level of personalization required to attract and retain customers who have become increasingly fickle, and are unwilling to waste time and effort with organizations that are not receptive to engaging on customers’ terms.
Economic events had a massive impact on the CX market over the past year. With the stock market still ailing (S&P 500 off by ~15% and NASDAQ down nearly 30% in 2022), consumers, businesses, and CX vendors were wary about the future. Consumers became more discriminating about purchases, often trading down to less expensive options. And while price was certainly a differentiator, personalization remained an important decision criterion for customers as they chose companies with which to do business.
From a corporate perspective, spending on CX is up in the air, driving a more conservative approach with CX vendors, in terms of hiring internal and external CX professionals, and undertaking new CX initiatives. Furthermore, the uncertainty of future CX spending has fueled vendor layoffs among CX software and solution providers.
The continuing labor issues have impacted business and industries of all types. Particularly in customer-facing roles, the so-called “Great Resignation” continued throughout 2022, resulting in labor shortages that impacted companies’ ability to service their customers. Some organizations have responded by increasing the use of AI and automation, to either augment the efforts of live workers, or deflect inquiries to fully automated bots to handle basic issues. More complex personalization and optimization programs (via behavioral data) also are being enabled and enhanced via the use of AI and automation.
Companies are also shifting interactions away from live, synchronous interactions (such as voice calls) to digital experiences, particularly through chat, mobile app, and social media interactions, which can support both asynchronous interactions and allow live reps to handle multiple interactions simultaneously.
Customers are becoming more accepting of self-service options for sales, support, and service, particularly as they expand to the digital channels they prefer, such as social media and mobile apps. Integration of these channels reduces friction and lets customers engage with companies on their terms.
Regardless of the channel used to engage with customers, organizations are realizing that transparency, empathy, and responsiveness continue to be the KPIs that customers use to judge and assess CX, instead of basic call-center driven, efficiency metrics.
From a corporate perspective, 2022 marked an interesting time for mergers and acquisitions. In the first half of the year, vendors shored up their product portfolios through M&A activity, with notable deals focused on adding specific features and functionality that dovetail with the desire to incorporate tech (AI, automation, analytics), as well as make it easier to interact with customers via digital channels. Much of the M&A activity in the CX space occurred in the early to mid-year period of 2022 and slowed as the economic headwinds accelerated toward the back half of the year. Key deals include Meta’s acquisition of Kustomer, Salesforce’s acquisition of Traction on Demand, and Medallia’s acquisition of Mindful.
Many vendors have also completed significant funding rounds to build out new functionality and support growth and technology development. These deals were designed to assist vendors with scaling issues or the integration of new product functionality, such as the incorporation of AI and automation, and support for advanced analytics. Key deals include those from Uniphore, 15Five, and Caplena.
Looking ahead to 2023, CX strategy will be used to help mitigate the impact of market uncertainties and a potential economic downturn. Social listening is gaining traction for both CX and EX, as companies realize the limitations of only considering direct feedback. Personalization will continue to be used as a differentiator, not only for B2C businesses, but also for B2B companies that are trying to deliver a right-sized offering for each customer. Employee experience (EX) continues to emerge as a key focus area and driver of better CX.
Omnichannel approaches to CX continue to mature, as vendors and customers will continue to make improvements to mobile, social, and other non-traditional channels to enable seamless experiences. CX software vendors will continue to add in new features and functions that make is easier for companies of all types to add in AI and automation across all functional areas.
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