Customer experience in the enterprise

5 ways customer experience will look different in 2023

The pandemic changed everything for customer experience. Here’s how enterprises will adapt over the rest of the decade.

Five stars.

Enterprises have to adapt their customer experiences.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

This story is part of our special report, "Customer Experience in the Enterprise." Read more here.

Breaking down silos

Traditionally sales, marketing and service teams have operated independently. Over the next several years, however, the distinction between sales, marketing and service will begin to blur as customers demand more consistent experiences. As a result, businesses will need to pay attention to customer experience not only in customer service, but also in their digital or product experiences, as well as their physical touch points, to ensure one consistent experience across their company. Companies may also begin to consolidate customer-facing activities under a single leader, such as a chief customer officer or chief experience officer. These executives will be responsible for overseeing all of a company’s customer-facing efforts, across marketing, sales, service, product management and more. The CCO or CXO will also have the task of infusing a customer-centric focus throughout an organization, across both employees and leaders.

Getting smarter

Already, businesses are capturing data on as many customer interactions as they can: from social media posts to phone conversations to in-store purchases. They will continue to put all that customer data in one place via customer data platforms, which will help provide personalized, proactive and eventually predictive experiences. CDPs can allow support agents to see all of a customer’s past calls during a service request or allow a salesperson to offer discounts based on past product issues. They will also use emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify common customer service requests or successful sales techniques, and use that data to provide better experiences moving forward.

Measuring customer satisfaction

New ways of measuring customer satisfaction beyond the traditional metrics of net promoter score or customer satisfaction score will begin to emerge. Thanks to the arrival of SaaS, companies will also look to churn, customer lifetime value and retention metrics. Increasingly, companies will also measure qualitative data such as delight, happiness or empathy using listening tours, extensive surveys and inputs from social media. As the efficacy of natural language processing and AI increases, businesses may also use emotion or sentiment analysis to better understand customer attitudes via tone, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues.

Enabling self-service

More than ever customers want to address concerns on their own, using online articles, chatbots and virtual agents. Twitter, YouTube and a company’s website will become increasingly important outlets for customers to get information about common issues or the sales process. Advancements in natural language processing and conversational intelligence have made chatbots more effective than ever, and automation can help customers find the right information without ever having to speak with a human. In short, businesses will get even closer to providing an effective human experience without ever involving a human.

Merging the front and back office

Attrition in customer-facing roles such as sales and service was notoriously high during the pandemic, as employees were inundated with customer requests while struggling to navigate outdated systems. That is changing rapidly as companies now recognize that employee and customer experience go hand in hand. From leveraging AI to better triage and route customer support calls to using customer data platforms to surface customer context in real time, making life easier for customer support agents naturally leads to a better customer interaction. To provide this, businesses will need to build or buy intuitive, easy-to-use internal customer systems for their employees. That will mean migrating to the cloud, consolidating systems and using analytics and automation to reduce the amount of manual work employees have to do when serving customers.

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