8 digital customer experience trends for 2023

A satisfying customer experience (CX) is vital for business success. It’s also a moving target — and more difficult to deliver every year. New technology, more competition in your field, and heightened expectations from both consumers and business customers mean that CX trends present some high-risk challenges — and high-growth opportunities — for every digital vendor. Get it right, and you can win and retain a wave of brand loyalty. Fail to deliver a quality customer experience, and your brand could become the cautionary tale shared at conferences and kitchen tables for years.

Few organizations give customer experience trends the attention they deserve, which is why we’ve read the research, analyzed the data, and gathered the most up-to-date strategies and action items for your 2023 success. We’ve noticed these eight tools and tendencies gaining momentum right now.

Back end to front end, daily to quarterly, the countdown is on for what you and your team should focus on for the next 12 months. We’ve researched the data, learned from experts in the field, and read the tea leaves. Keep these strategies in mind as you plan for the year.

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1. The growth of chatbots in CX

Digital customers expect fast responses to their service issues — often faster than humans can deliver. For simple fixes or frequently answered queries, chatbots will increasingly become the first point of contact to help customers get quick answers. Chatbots help customer service reps reduce their ticket load.

According to a Zendesk CX Trends 2022 report, 26% of companies surveyed across 21 countries currently offer AI and chatbot-guided self-service, and 25% plan to add this capability.

Customers still crave a human feel from your business, but the data shows that they’re continuing to embrace the bot. The survey also found that 69% of customers are willing to interact with a bot for simple issues — a 23% increase year-over-year. While chatbots aren’t yet able to replicate human empathy — and, well, humanity — their acceptance from both service centers and customers means we can expect more of them in 2023.

2. Expansion of omnichannel experiences

Customers expect a consistent look and feel to your content and processes everywhere they reach you. This includes your brick-and-mortar, website, app, social feeds, or anywhere else they feel comfortable interacting with your brand. Know this — starting now, eyebrows will raise if you’re not prepared to offer them a consistent, on-brand experience across all of these channels.

The research shows that omnichannel experiences increase the quality of both customer experience and customer satisfaction. “The strongest omnichannel customer strategies retain 89% of customers,” a recent analysis from REVE Chat found. Compare that to just a 33% retention rate among brands with weak omnichannel strategies, and you’ll want to bump it to the top of your to-do list.

Here’s another bonus. It’s more efficient for your business if all channels interconnect around a single data hub. According to LinkedIn research, “The average SMS/text session is up to 75% cheaper than the average voice call, and Facebook Messenger chat and other social media chat are effectively free.” We like great results that are free.

3. Personalization takes it very personal

According to Accenture Interactive’s Pulse Check report, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize them, remember past transactions, and provide relevant offerings and recommendations. While personalized content and curated commerce were once a “nice to have,” it’s now a required and expected part of a quality customer experience. And it’s a deciding factor for brand loyalty.

It’s no longer enough to just plunk in a customer’s name or send date-triggered emails to wish them a happy birthday. Customers want more, including unique product recommendations, such as the belt to match the shoes they bought. They also want brands to anticipate their needs and remind them that it’s time to upgrade or maintain. Tell them it’s time to check the air pressure in the tires they’ve purchased. Or better yet, add brand programming to let them know a more mileage-efficient tire is available. Our most loyal customers want us to know them, and they increasingly want us to anticipate their needs, consider their best interests, and create a brand experience that feels special.

4. No secrets — customers love transparency

Complete product and brand transparency on pricing, products, and processes builds customer trust and creates a more memorable, alluring digital customer experience. Total openness shows customers that you’re confident in what you sell and have nothing to hide.

This year and beyond, retailers should display all prices, shipping costs, monthly fees, or any other financial or transactional information about a product or service. Provide honest and accurate delivery dates, product availability, and user-generated reviews to help your customer feel they are making an informed purchase. Forcing customers to dive pages deep on your site or burdening them to research your reviews on a third-party site just creates frustration and distance between you.

Take, for example, the success of clothing retailer Everlane, which jumped from $0 to $100 million in just six years. Its pages include helpful data such as size, fit, and materials. But they take it further to detail their entire supply chain, including the animal welfare behind the alpaca and cashmere they source, the sustainability of their silk and cotton, and the third-party certifications on their recycled materials. Shoppers responded to their transparency by adding more products like Wide Leg Dream Pants to their cart.

Another way to add transparency to your brand is to share behind-the-scenes content (like this promotional film by Chipotle) or user-generated content (as seen in the Share a Coke campaign) to your content streams. Help make your brand relatable with how-it’s-made videos on your social media, for example. Share interviews with rockstar employees who love what they do, or longtime loyal customers who may already be advocating for you via their own social feeds. If you let loyal customers in on your business “secrets,” you’ll also entice new customers to check out your brand.

Lastly, but perhaps most essentially — the most impactful way to be transparent with customers and prospects is to be upfront with your use of customer data. According to the PingIdentity 2021 Consumer Survey of 3,400 global consumers, 85% want to know how online services share their personal information, yet 72% said it’s difficult to find how it’s shared. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said they would feel better about a brand if they knew how their information was being used. And alarmingly for any retailer: 60% of consumers surveyed dropped an account over privacy concerns, including 46% who have done so more than once.

5. More scrupulous data security

Customer data — its acquisition, use, storage, and protection — shifts into overdrive this year, and that has prompted a heightened focus on data security.

In November 2020, California voters approved Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which sought to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), signed into law in June 2018. These legal mandates will go full force in 2023 and impact how customer data should be managed and used by marketing teams. Other states may soon follow suit.

Know that when it comes to data security, honesty is the best policy. A single data breach or misuse in your organization can drive a customer away forever. To help your customers feel more confident in your handling of their personal and financial data, clearly share your privacy policies. Soothe their concerns to help improve their experience upfront. Ask your customers for their consent whenever they share data, and tell them exactly what you’ll do with it.

6. CX helps your brand stand out and build trust

Great customer experience can uniquely position your company in a crowded marketplace and help you build trust. CX can be a point of differentiation as impactful and distinctive as the product or service you sell.

Demonstrate your value to prove to your customer that you deserve their loyalty. Go above and beyond for convenience, comfort, and thoughtfulness. Here’s why — customers are willing to pay more for great experiences from brands they feel comfortable with. And happy employees who like what they do are a huge part of reeling in and retaining happy customers. Just ask anyone who’s chosen to spend more on milk at the local store with easy parking, fast service, and a friendly hello from the cashier.

According to NTT’s 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, 90% of the 1,350 global professionals surveyed strongly or partially agree that organizations that fully embrace customer experience as a differentiator are more likely to have highly engaged employees. Great CX isn’t just a nice thing to do for your customers. It helps companies build a long-lasting, service-focused team that customers want to return to.

7. Predictive analytics makes a mark on CX

Traditional data analysis looks at events that have already occurred. Predictive analytics uses historical data to forecast most likely outcomes. In marketing, it can help businesses decide which actions their customers might take and help teams design a more effective campaign strategy.

The use of predictive analytics is expected to increase this year and balloon to $28.1 billion by 2026. Marketers want to put their data to work to provide customers with the experience they want before they know they want it. Predictive analytics can tell you which new customers to target. It can identify potential risks. And it can improve your relationship with your customer as they get closer to your brand, products, and services.

Rely on predictive analytics to help you anticipate your customers’ needs, such as when machine parts might need replacing or when they’ll need a whole new machine. Use it to help you anticipate life events, such as a wedding or a new baby, and be there for your customer before they start to research caterers, caregivers, and more. Predictive analytics can also help you pinpoint which customers are most at risk of leaving you for a competitor — and you can quickly incentivize them with a special offer or discount to keep them before they stray. Modeling with predictive data can help your business attract, nurture, and retain your most valued customers.

8. Smarter real-time data technology

Real-time data technology innovations aren’t just cool and exciting tech toys. They can also be entirely profitable. In The State of the Data Race 2022, a DataStax survey of 500 technology leaders and practitioners, 71% of respondents agree that they can directly attribute revenue growth to their real-time data investments.

Real-time data technology is unique in that it can help your entire organization respond to customer decisions made on the fly. Few things are more personal for your brand than someone who can conjure you with the sound of their voice or a customer who is literally wearing the potential to connect with your brand.

Take smart speakers and voice technology. They’re ready to respond quickly and serve up your product or service when your customer calls on them. The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technology, such as smart jewelry to track your fitness or an authenticated pair of NFT sneakers, brim with the potential for seamless customer interaction. This level of hyper-personalization is growing, and customers are willing to explore it — both for the wow factor and for the unique and personal customer experience that it can provide.

Get started with digital customer experience

The case for a rock-solid customer experience plan is clear, and it continues to gain the same importance as the products or services that you sell. As consumer and business buyer expectations grow, organizations need to deliver the service, relationship, and delight that customers desire. What you need are the tools and a plan to get you there. And a trusted partner to help you deliver.

Adobe Experience Cloud makes real-time customer experiences possible. Learn to boost your CX and keep your customers coming back.