Happy Friday! ‘This week in CX’ brings you the latest roundup of industry news.

This week, we’re looking at Emplifi’s Social Media Benchmarking Report, the latest research from Cavell on contact centre automation, and how mental health is taking a toll on young workers.

Key news

  • Is career stability a thing of the past? Gen-Z workers expect to change careers three times more than any generation. Some seek better pay and stability, others want improved work-life balance and to work with companies that better align with their values. However, pivoting can be challenging. Many LinkedIn members agree that considering transferable skills from old to new careers is vital, along with looking for a mentor in the new industry and being prepared to take a financial hit – at first.
  • Shopping centres have been struggling for years as more consumers switch to online buying. But IKEA operator Ingka Group is doubling down on them, buying up a global “mall empire” with a novel scheme for revitalisation, writes The Wall Street Journal. The plan is to put an IKEA store in each mall and lure more shoppers with Nordic-themed food halls, children’s play areas and co-working spaces, building out a broader consumer experience. While the group says it is actively looking to buy and build out more North American locations, Ingka acquired a shopping centre in Brighton, England last November. The company also plans to open malls in two Chinese cities this year, Shanghai and Xi’an, with an Indian debut planned for 2025.
  • Gen Z workers in the UK are leading the charge when it comes to salary optimism, with 55% expecting a pay rise within the next six months, LinkedIn research shows. Other generations are less optimistic, however, and analysis from the CIPD backs up the Bank of England’s expectation that pay awards will drop this year. 

Instagram and TikTok Generated Highest Level of Organic Interactions for Brands

Emplifi announced the release of its 2024 Social Media Benchmarks report. After analysing both organic and paid ad activity for the thousands of global brands that have implemented its Social Marketing Cloud platform, Emplifi is sharing deep insights from their findings to help social media marketers and advertisers align their social media strategies with current performance trends for Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter). 

Emplifi revealed that Instagram Reels and Carousels are the top-performing format on Instagram for organic content, with 65 median post interactions. Brands have experienced a 39% drop in engagement on TikTok organic content in Q4 2023 compared to Q1 2022, but only 9% compared to Q3 2022—meaning that the bulk of TikTok’s decline in engagement happened during the first three quarters of 2022. Still, Instagram continues to beat TikTok for organic video views—a trend Instagram has maintained since the beginning of 2022. For both Instagram and TikTok, long- and medium-video lengths have outperformed shorter videos, a finding Emplifi first revealed last quarter. 

In terms of paid advertising results, ads are becoming increasingly more affordable on X, with cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand (CPM) steadily decreasing between 2022 and 2023. Meanwhile, Facebook CPM and CPC have remained consistent throughout the same time period. When analysing click-through rates (CTRs), Emplifi discovered Facebook delivered the highest CTRs, followed by X and Instagram, respectively. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most significant insights from Emplifi’s 2024 Social Media Benchmarks report: 

  • Instagram and Facebook saw the highest engagement rates for organic content in two years, while TikTok’s organic engagement continued to drop. The holiday surge helped increase organic engagement on Instagram for brands, driving a 9% jump over the previous quarter. TikTok’s engagement numbers remain strong when compared to Facebook and X. However, post interactions per 1K impressions have been declining – down 26% from the start of 2022. 
  • Instagram Reels and Carousels were the top-performing organic content on Instagram in Q4 2023.Brands on Instagram are experiencing tremendous success with Reels and Carousels with 65 median post interactions, while images received 45 median post interactions.
  • The best time of day to post organic content? It’s still the afternoon. Emplifi looked into Instagram and TikTok brand profiles in Europe and found the highest engagement rates were for social posts published in the afternoon, and particularly those on Friday afternoons.
  • Facebook Live drove massive results for brands, generating 300% more engagement than Facebook Reels or Carousels. Meanwhile, brands posting organic videos on Instagram saw higher median interactions and median reach rates than image-centric posts. 
  • Ad spend on Facebook and Instagram reached its all-time high for the year in Q4 2023. It’s no surprise that ad spend reached record-breaking levels during the last quarter of the year. What’s most interesting are the results: CPCs for Facebook and Instagram ads remained largely steady throughout 2023, but CPCs for ads on X experienced a 22% drop midway through the year—by Q4 2023, CPCs on X were less than half than in Q2 2022.
  • Instagram main feed ads represented the highest CPCs, but also led to a sizable increase in CTRs. In Q4 2023, ads on Instagram’s main feed saw a 24% increase in CTRs from the previous quarter, and respectively, ads on Stories had a 22% increase.

Automation is shaping the future of contact centres

Automation is becoming an integral part of business’ CX strategies, with over half (52%) of contact centre buyers across the UK, Western Europe and North America aiming to increase automated case resolution in the next three years, according to new research released today by Cavell. 

The 2024 Contact Centre Enterprise Insight Report surveyed over 600 certified contact centre buyers at companies of all sizes across the UK, Western Europe, and North America, providing clear insight into the automated approach to contact centre solutions and customer experience provision.

The report also reveals that US companies are leading the way when it comes to AI deployment within contact centres, with 39% of US respondents reporting that their company has already deployed AI solutions. This is nearly twice that compared to the UK and Europe (both 14%). Meanwhile, 40% of companies have already been using virtual agents, and there is a commitment to increase the virtual agent ratio to over 50% by 2028.

Somewhat surprisingly, only 3% of companies are concerned about losing employee skills to AI despite the common theme of fear around AI replacing jobs. AI is instead largely seen as a catalyst in customer services to equip automated systems to handle increasing queries and allow agents to resolve more complex cases. Respondents also highlight a clear focus on agent experience, with almost all companies (94%) having already deployed or planning to deploy technology to improve and monitor agent experience in order to tackle increasingly stressful environments for agents dealing with high-complexity cases. 

Return to office boosts physical shopping, with over 55% spending more in-store

Bazaarvoice, Inc. has unveiled its biannual Shopper Preference Report, capturing insights from 2,008 UK consumers. The report reveals that the UK is a global leader when it comes to the return to office, seeing 68% of workers back in their desks for a portion of their week. This has a noticeable impact on in-store shopping, as 55% of these consumers associate their return to the workplace with increased spending in brick-and-mortar stores, placing the UK second behind Canada. 

The research also unveils another trend: Brit’s are very split on where they spend the most. When queried about their spending habits, 35% of UK consumers say they spend more on in-store purchases, 31% declare they have no significant difference between online and in-store spending, and 34% state they spend more online. 

The report delves into consumer behaviour, highlighting their interactions with retailers and the channels through which they make purchases. In a landscape where retailers are fiercely competing for consumer spending, grasping the underlying rationale of their audience is paramount, especially as Brit’s navigate the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The findings reveal a diverse spectrum of spending and shopping behaviours among UK consumers.  

Despite the growing importance of sustainable consumption, with three-quarters (77%) of Brit’s valuing sustainability commitments in brands, the cost-of-living crisis takes precedence in purchasing decisions. This is evidenced by the fact that over two-thirds (68%) of UK consumers buy at least some of their clothes from fast-fashion retailers. 

A quarter (27%) of Brit’s make monthly purchases based on items they encounter on social platforms and this number jumps to 53% for consumers aged 25-34. Furthermore, more than half (62%) of Brit’s aged 18-44 have bought a product after viewing a video of it on social media, underscoring the preference for video content in product discovery, favoured by 65% of consumers over still images (25%) in the same age range. 

Other key UK findings from the Shopper Preference Report include:  

  • Brand Loyalty – Quality (48%) surpasses price (44%) as the primary factor influencing brand loyalty among consumers. Brand values rank low on the list of considerations, with only 3% citing it as the main influencing factor. However, when selecting where to shop, 86% of British respondents consider a brand’s reputation for reliability and trustworthiness to impact their loyalty to some extent, with only 10% dismissing its significance entirely. 
  • Second-Hand Shopping – A significant number of Brit’s are reluctant to purchase second-hand items, with a third (35%) reporting they have never bought items from thrift stores, charity shops, marketplaces, or second-hand platforms like Vinted and Depop. 
  • Online Shopping Devices – Over half of Brit’s (57%) predominantly use their smartphones to make online purchases, followed by laptops (28%), and tablets (11%), with a minority (5%) staying away from online purchases altogether. 
  • Retail Therapy – Brit’s top the global figures when feeling joy from “retail therapy”, with 26% engaging in it frequently. However, 13% of UK consumers say they cannot afford non-essential purchases currently, highlighting the strain faced by the current economic conditions.
  • Private Labels – In the last six months, 58% of Brit’s have purchased private label products, with fashion (49%), food and beverages (60%), and health and beauty (39%) being the most common categories for those that have. Additionally, 42% of consumers have permanently switched some staple products to private-label alternatives, while 17% intend to do so in the future, indicating a growing preference for private-label goods. 

Young workers with mental health problems are more likely to be out of work than their healthy peers

Between 2018 and 2022, one in five (21%) 18-24-year-olds with mental health problems were workless, compared to 13% of those without mental health problems, the report by the Resolution Foundation has found. 

We’ve only just begun – the final report of a three-year research programme funded by the Health Foundation – explores the relationship between young people’s mental health and work outcomes, and how policy makers should respond.

The report notes that in 2021-2022 over one-in-three (34 per cent) young people aged 18-24 reported symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder – up from one-in-four (24 per cent) in 2000. As a result, more than half a million 18-24-year-olds were prescribed anti-depressants in 2021-22.

The rise in mental health problems among young people is not just a health crisis; it is limiting their economic options too. The report finds that between 2018 and 2022, one-in-five (21 per cent) 18-24-year-olds with mental health problems were workless, compared to 13 per cent of those without mental health problems. The number of young people workless due to ill-health has more than doubled over the past decade, from 93,000 to 190,000. People in their early 20s are now more likely to be economically inactive due to ill health than those in their 40s.

The Foundation notes that the focus on young people’s mental health problems often centres around universities, where the share of full-time students with a CMD has increased by 37 per cent over the past decade. But the economic consequences of poor mental health are far starker for those who don’t go to university.

The study also shows that younger workers can end up unemployed or going into low-paid jobs due to the impact of mental health problems on their education. Four in five (79%) 18-24-year-olds who are workless due to ill health only have qualifications at GCSE level or below, compared to a third (34%) of all people in that age group.

Thanks for tuning into CXM’s weekly roundup of industry news. Check back next Friday for the latest updates of the week!

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