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

This week, we’re looking at some of the top predictions in AI, retail, and consumer priorities for 2024. What are the early stances saying? Now is the time to read and prepare!

Key news

  • Recent data from the British Retail Consortium reveals that November sales are trailing behind inflation. The annual growth rate increased slightly from 2.5% in October to 2.7%. However, consumers seem to be spending more cautiously. Barclays’ analysis supports this trend, highlighting a rise in non-essential spending due to extended Black Friday sales in November. Still, there is a decline in expenditures on restaurants and categories like entertainment, furniture, electronics, and home improvements.
  • Zoom was named a Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for UCaaS, Worldwide. The UCaaS report evaluated 11 companies in the unified communications space, and Zoom has been recognised as a leader in this space for its UCaaS offerings.
  • Around 83% of women and non-binary employees actively hide their invisible conditions at work out of fear of prejudice or discrimination, according to non-profit SheSays. Not only does this mean that employees may be suffering in silence – it also affects productivity, as workers cite burnout and a lack of support as reasons for a drop in motivation. 
  • A June 2023 Gartner survey of nearly 3,500 employees found that only 31% say their organisation provides resources to support environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. However, if organisations get it right, a strong culture of sustainability can improve employee engagement by up to 43%.

Commentary share: the next role of AI in contact centres

As we stand on the precipice of what will no doubt be a transformative year, we anticipate a paradigm shift in the contact centre industry, largely propelled by the impact of AI. We may have seen the beginnings of this transformation in 2023 but the past 12 months have only been the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities of AI. 

Here are some of the top predictions from Dave Hoekstra, Product Evangelist at Calabrio, on the topics of AI in the contact centre.

The impact of AI

AI’s impact on the contact centre workforce will be transformative over the next 10 years. Contrary to concerns about job displacement, a resounding 70% of contact centre managers believe that the number of agents will increase. This forecast indicates that AI will serve to augment human abilities, creating a heightened demand for well-trained agents proficient in working alongside AI technologies and efficiently engaging with customers. 

Addressing agent shortages

Addressing labour shortages head-on, contact centres will significantly increase investments in training programs, with 35% of managers ranking it as their top tactic for attracting and retaining new hires. Faced with a current 35% skill gap among agents, there will be a concentrated effort to address specific training challenges, particularly in emotional intelligence (33%), job aptitude (37%), and onboarding. This increased focus on comprehensive training underscores the industry-wide dedication to equipping agents with the technical and soft skills essential for navigating the demands of the hybrid, AI-driven contact centre environment. 

AI’s role in agent development

AI will be the driving force behind the cultivation of a continuous learning culture within contact centres in the coming year, enhancing agents’ critical thinking abilities. Recognising the role of adaptability, contact centre managers will allocate funds to training initiatives that empower agents to adjust to evolving challenges, and recognise these skills as essential for future productivity. More than 60% of managers feel that critical thinking is a top skill needed by the agents of the future. Recruitment strategies will pivot towards individuals exhibiting robust critical thinking skills and a proactive willingness to continuously acquire new skills. 

New research reveals consumers will prioritise spending on experiences in 2024 

After a challenging 2023, 49% of consumers worldwide are confident that their financial situation will improve in the coming year. This is according to new research from Paysafe, which reveals a consumer landscape characterised by a mix of optimism, caution, and a willingness to adapt spending habits. The research surveyed 14,500 consumers across Europe, North America, and Latin America.

Optimism is particularly pronounced among Millennials and Generation Z, with 57% of each group expressing confidence in their near-term financial future. However, consumers acknowledge improvement will require more proactive measures as they manage high living costs and their money differently. 50% are intending to alter their spending habits. 

Entertainment 

In terms of discretionary spend, the research also indicated that a growing proportion of consumers are prioritising in-home entertainment (23%) more than before. Nearly a third are saying they will spend less on clothing (32%). 

Conversely, over a third of consumers (37%) admitted to saving less due to rising living costs or not saving at all (18%). Despite this, 47% believe they will be able to save more in the coming year.

Spending on apps

In response to the changing financial landscape, more are turning to budgeting tools and apps for assistance. These apps are primarily used to plan how to save as well as how to balance various expenditures and how to better manage discretionary spending. A substantial 55% of respondents said they already use these apps, and 38% plan to increase their reliance on them in 2024.

Spending on experiences 

Furthermore, the research reveals a shift in how consumers plan to allocate their disposable income. 42% are opting to spend less on physical goods, instead prioritising spending on experiences, even as costs rise. This is especially so in Brazil (52%) and the US (51%), but less common in Austria and Germany (29%).

Travelling 

This shift to increasing spend in the experience economy is reflected in consumer attitudes to travel, which should maintain its upward trajectory. 43% are planning on spending more or the same on package holidays, and 41% on flights. 

While budgets have tightened, spending on online sports bets (18%) and in-game purchases (19%) have remained the same before inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.

eCommerce

Regarding online spending over the past six months, 31% expressed no preference between large and small eCommerce businesses. As consumers navigate an evolving economic environment, businesses, whether they may be small or big, should pay attention to shifting trends and tailor their offerings to meet the changing needs and expectations of their customers.

Buying local 

An ongoing concern in the online shopping experience continues to be security. There is clear reluctance among many to share financial details online, with only 43% comfortable doing so with a small business versus 56% with a large one. Small businesses must resolve these security challenges to take advantage of positive signs for next year given some 42% intend to shop more at local businesses in 2024.

Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology shares its top predictions for 2024

With 2024 is set to bring its own set of speed bumps that retailers will need to traverse, ranging from the impacts a general election could have on consumers’ budgets to questions over what the demise of industry stalwarts like Wilko and Paperchase means for the industry. The new year is set to be one defined by change. With the launch of its “Top Commerce Trends for 2024” report, Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology has looked into understanding what will shape the year ahead, offer a sense of how the retail industry will evolve and suggest where retailers and brands should look to invest.

1. Supercharged by AI, chatbots will finally deliver their long-promised value

The rapid development of generative Large Language Models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT means chatbots are poised to become more capable and functional than ever before. “As a result, I expect smaller brands and companies to start using these advanced technologies to create truly fantastic chatbots that offer an unparalleled user experience,” predicts Naji El-Arifi, Head of Innovation.

2. AI won’t just be “generative”, but “curative” too

Brands increasingly find themselves under the microscope to tackle diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), could AI help provide online experiences that are accessible to all? Leon Suchocki, Head of Brand Guardian, believes that “We will increasingly see curative AI used to ensure content is compliant with a brand’s accessibility guidelines, rather than having humans pore over every asset, current and past.

3. Social goes beyond social

Social media is no longer the place for online communities to grow and thrive, with the likes of YouTube, Twitch, Fortnite, and the like bringing new opportunities for brands to sell to consumers. “Brands must widen their footprints in 2024 to ensure their social experiences are optimised with eye-catching imagery, platform-specific storefronts, and striking content if they are to stand out from the rapidly growing crowd,” says Chloe Cox, Head of Social.

4. Marketplace dominance loosens as consumers choose alternative channels to purchase online

While the economic pressures that many expect to spill over into 2024 would suggest another year where marketplaces like Amazon or Alibaba dominate, that may not be the case. “In the most recent edition of our global Future Shopper report, marketplaces’ share of wallet was 35%, a good figure in a vacuum but one that is unchanged from last year,” said Ken Platt, Director of eRetail & Marketplaces. 

5. The return of direct-to-consumer brands

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands must wake up to their number one issue – attrition – and aggressively address it. “Consumers often come to them for inspiration and to search but historically, generally leave when it comes time to buy,” says Shalina Ganatra, Head of eCommerce Consultancy. 

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

Post Views: 237