Every year, Forrester publishes prediction reports and shares the biggest trends for the year ahead. To do that, we analyze customer expectations, market dynamics, new technologies and innovations. For 2022, we expect that European brands will look to their customer experience (CX) teams to help them navigate through the lingering effects of the continuing pandemic. 

According to our research, companies will adjust by managing customer expectations and emotions around topics such as digital acceleration and saturation, sustainability, and privacy. In this article, we take a look at these predictions and explore the key challenges CX leaders should prepare for in 2022. 

Customers will want the pandemic-era services to become the “new normal”

an image showing a person busying online via phone.

As pandemic restrictions lift, organizations have started to go back to some pre-pandemic ways of doing business – like ending senior shopping hours, reinstating hurdles for passengers to change a flight, and transitioning away from virtual options. 

Our research shows that this is a mistake because consumers have grown to cherish many of those ‘pandemic services’.  

For example, one-half to two-thirds of US and European consumers say that the pandemic has changed how they shop. Therefore, CX professionals will play an important role in helping their companies embrace these changes

Using customer insights and research, they’ll help to evaluate which services to keep, adjust, or toss. Moreover, they’ll work with their peers in organizations to stem the effect of digital saturation among users. This means creating hybrid customer experiences across physical and digital touchpoints by connecting data, leaning in on ecosystem thinking, and orchestrating the journeys of customers, employees, and partners. 

25% more EU businesses will appoint Chief Sustainability Officers 

In the last 12 months, three events in Europe shaped how companies approach sustainability:  

an image showing that sustainability will be one of the key topics in CX in 2022.
  • The EU adopted a climate adaptation policy;  
  • The EU introduced the first delegated to act for its taxonomy, stipulating what counts as environmental objectives for EU climate adaptation and mitigation;  
  • The EU adopted a proposal to make corporate sustainability reporting standardized and mandatory for more companies from 2023.  

However, EU consumers are sceptical if companies are going to commit to implementing the much-needed changes. Forrester’s 2021 data reveals that just 34% trust companies when they say they will commit to reducing climate change. People aren’t ready to believe “Greenwashers” that have only embraced sustainability in their communications.

Thus, 25% more EU companies, especially in financial services and retail, will add chief sustainability officers to their rosters in 2022. We predict that the most advanced CX leaders will work with those sustainability officers to put efforts in place to overcome barriers to sustainability like lack of convenience and knowledge. 

Privacy journey design will become a key CX priority in 2022 

Data deprecation will force companies to collect more data directly from customers to offer individualized experiences in 2022. While 37% of global security decision-makers consider privacy to be a competitive differentiator, at least one-quarter of global consumers believe they have to take privacy into their own hands. 

an image showing the priority of personal data protection in CX.

CX leaders at 20% of European companies and 10% of US firms will turn their attention to privacy and consent journeys in 2022. They’ll work with their firm’s marketing, IT, and security to carefully design and measure journeys based on compliance standards that vary by industry. 

In the spirit of “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” these firms will include privacy-related KPIs and metrics in their CX measurement programmes to monitor journey performance. 

Prepare for the less turbulent year, but don’t expect smooth sailing 

While our predictions for 2022 indicate that the year ahead of us will be less turbulent for European businesses, this is no time to be complacent. The pandemic is changing the way that customers want to engage with companies. Delivering on the “new normal” services, sustainability and privacy design will become the year’s key CX priority

As the pandemic continues to shape how companies operate and engage with their customers, CX pros will be instrumental in how their organizations embrace change and build resilience into business operations. 

This article was co-authored by Forrester’s analysts, Joana de Quintanilha and Maxie Schmidt.

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