Happy Friday! ‘This week in CX’ brings you the latest roundup of industry news.
This week, we’re looking at the first piece of news from our partnership with CXFO, featuring key CX insights from their latest CX Utilities report. Zendesk and Twilio have also released new research into CX transformation in 2024 – what are the anticipated trends, and communication preferences for the year?
- Three in ten employees with hybrid working options say their manager or boss being in the office puts them off from coming in more regularly, according to new research from beyond. The workspace provider commissioned an independent survey of 1,262 UK adults in part-time or full-time employment, unearthing the top reasons hybrid workers avoid commuting into the office more often. Cost is the most significant factor, with two thirds (67%) saying the rising cost-of-living has made them want to work remotely more often for cost-savings reasons. Over half (54%) say they would go in more if their place of work was better located (in an area that had more things to their liking or was nearer to their home), while 38% wish the workspace itself was of a better standard.
- 2023 saw Britain strapped for cash as the cost of living crisis tightened its hold. Consumer shopping habits changed as Brits adapted and savvier shopping became essential day to day. New online YouGov research from retail e-commerce giant Temu looks back at 2023 to see how British consumers became bargain hunters. 72% of consumers say that their spending on luxury or high-priced items decreased across 2023, with the same number (72%) saying they focussed their spending more on daily essentials. The vast majority 84% also confirmed they actively sought deals and sales before making a purchase last year, as three quarters (76%) say their spending became more cautious.
Commentary news share: AI will affect 40% of jobs and probably worsen inequality, says IMF head.
“The IMF’s stark warning is another strong reminder for all of us in the tech industry. While AI promises to enhance productivity and create new opportunities, the potential impact on jobs, especially in advanced economies, needs to be at the forefront of the discussion. This isn’t just about job losses, however; it’s about the reshaping of industries. The industry at large should get behind policies and strategies that not only foster innovation but also protect and empower those who are most vulnerable to being replaced. Re-skilling people and re-imagining work will be key to long-term success, as well as a collaborative effort between governments, businesses and educational institutions.“–Mark Barry, EMEA Managing Director at HubSpot
Customer Experience Magazine are partnering with CXFO. In this partnership, CXFO will contribute valuable insights to enhance CXM’s already rich repository of articles, research papers, podcasts, and webinars. Keith Gait MBA CCXP, Chief Executive of CXFO, will have a regular feature in “This Week in CX”, contributing columns and advocating for prioritising people in the CX landscape.
CXFO: Re-thinking CX in 2024
As we head into 2024, Keith Gait MBA CCXP, CEO of the Customer Experience Foundation, looks at key CX insights from their latest CX Utilities report, following an industry council event with Utility organisations and how they are managing their substantial customer bases.
The Utility industry is evolving to meet changing customer expectations and it is clear, like many other industries, that their CX and contact centre operations are facing a myriad of challenges. We are also heading into an election year and facing more economic uncertainty which is worrying for consumers and will only increase the already competitive landscape most industries face.
Cyber threats and higher cost to serve
Most are utilising all forms of communication from email, phone and text to apps, live chat, and social media but many say this will change as they explore and adopt AI technologies to enhance customer experience and streamline communication and email once hailed as the messiah is now being viewed as an outdated communication tool.
Many said that they predict they will stop using email as a contact channel mainly due to concerns over cyber-attacks, fraud, and the considerably higher cost to serve. If the prediction is true, it is imperative for organisations to reassess their contact channels in the face of evolving security challenges. This shift not only reflects a strategic response to safeguard sensitive information but also signals a broader re-evaluation of communication methods to ensure the resilience and security of business operations in an era fraught with digital risks.
Beyond the cybersecurity risks associated with email, another significant factor contributing to the reconsideration of this contact channel is the considerably higher cost to serve. Unlike some alternative communication methods, email interactions often entail a more extensive and resource-intensive process, encompassing activities such as monitoring, filtering, and responding to a deluge of messages.
The speed of which the new technology has appeared has taken many by surprise and this year we will see AI capabilities continue to be incorporated into the backend of systems to analyse data, improve personalisation and provide more comprehensive help from digital assistants and chatbots. It is critical for the IT departments to work closely with the CX team to shape what the technology needs to look like. It isn’t just about automation; it is about empowering agents.
We will also see the impact of generative AI and Open AI’s ChatGPT interface who announced at the end of last year they are allowing anyone to create their own version of ChatGPT. This technology will prove a game changer to rethink CX; how to communicate issues, how to ease customer frustrations, build personalised relationships and allow customers to navigate their and change their utility plan and ultimately reduce churn rates.
Many participants agreed that in 5 years they will be delivering a very different kind of customer experience, and one predicted that 70% of business tasks will be done using AI.
AI ushers in era of intelligent CX, fuels massive industry transformation
Zendesk, Inc. released its annual CX Trends Report, the findings of which signal a rapid transition towards intelligent CX. In this era, the shift to AI-driven service will create a big divide between companies who use AI to create the best customer experiences and those that miss the mark on implementing, or worse, don’t embrace AI at all. Those with the ability to bridge this divide will completely transform CX, delivering personalisation at scale and elevating service quality while reducing costs.
The report reveals 69 percent of UK CX leaders (70 percent global) are reimagining their customer journeys using tools like generative AI. This adoption has real benefits – 88 percent of UK CX leaders (83 percent global) who are using generative AI in CX report positive ROI, proving these changes set a new standard for successful CX. The report also places a spotlight on some defining elements of the era of intelligent CX:
Chatbots evolve into advanced digital agents
Two-thirds (68 percent) of UK CX leaders believe chatbots can build a stronger emotional connection with their customers. This is largely due to AI chatbots evolving into skilled digital agents, playing key roles in customer service and the overall customer experience. Their ability to mirror brand styles and evaluate their customers’ feelings and desires enables them to deliver tailored, accurate responses.
The transformation of chatbots into digital agents aligns with escalating expectations – over half (53 percent) of UK consumers believe chatbots should have the same level of expertise and quality as highly skilled human agents. Furthermore, 48 percent of Brits (51 percent global) prefer to interact with advanced bots for quick and immediate responses. Businesses are grasping the importance of upgrading chatbots into digital agents and plan to boost their AI investments to speed up this process.
Live and immersive interactions redefine experiences
Consumers have now come to expect more than just traditional support to truly enhance their experiences. Forty-one percent of UK consumers (59 percent global) surveyed believe the way they interact with a company will completely change within two years due to generative AI.
People are embracing conversational commerce – buying products within chat interactions – and turning to live-streamed sessions for immediate help with shopping. To keep pace with this change, 66 percent of UK CX leaders (72 percent global) are partnering with external vendors and experts to implement conversational commerce. Brands are also turning to social media and in-store influencers for sales – an approach that attracts new consumers and caters to those who prefer shopping at home. Sixty-five percent of UK and global CX leaders believe failure to leverage tools like live streaming that provide real time support will lead to lost opportunities.
CX leaders are the new drivers of data privacy
Amidst escalating privacy concerns and rising demands for AI-enhanced personalised experiences, data privacy is becoming a central responsibility for CX leaders. In fact, 83 percent of UK CX leaders (77 percent global) see themselves as responsible for making sure their customers’ data is safe. Another 81 percent of UK leaders (83 percent global) say data protection and cybersecurity are top priorities in their customer service strategy.
With CX leaders now active drivers of data privacy decision-making processes, they’re focused on delivering solutions that protect data while facilitating personalised experiences and deploying AI. More than half (57 percent) of UK consumers feel they’re constantly under the threat of being scammed. When they see that a company is proactive about data security, they’re more likely to feel comfortable providing personal information, leading to stronger trust and loyalty.
Changing communications preferences: Five trends for 2024
To help brands understand some of the current trends they should be keeping an eye on, Twilio surveyed 2,000 UK consumers to find out more about their consumer language and communications preferences for the year ahead…
- Consumers opt for colloquial communication – In general, customers appear to be open minded to using informal language when engaging with brands. In fact, over half (54%) are open to brands using emojis, and 48% are open to brands using slang.
- People want brands to mirror their language and communication style – Consumers of today have high benchmarks when corresponding with brands; half (50%) expect them to mirror their own communication style with similar length messages, formality, and use of abbreviations and emojis, for example.
- Shorter, snappier exchanges have become the default way to communicate – Twilio’s research shows that the efficiency pillar (from the ‘E3 formula’ of efficiency, expertise and emotion) is reigning supreme in brand-customer engagements. Receiving several short, easily digestible messages was ranked consumers’ preference when engaging with brands in customer service scenarios (51%).
- Multilingual consumers are increasingly switching between different languages, and expect brands to do the same – With global audience bases, customers have varying needs, and brands must adapt. Almost half of consumers (49%) expect to be able to share their preference on chosen language and over a third (34%) expect brands to be able to seamlessly switch between languages.
- Accurate writing remains important – With AI-generated content, there are now no excuses for inaccuracy from brands. Thanks to this emerging technology, over half of consumers (54%) have come to expect brands to deliver well-written communications.