Customer Experience Strategy Best Practices to Keep up with 2023 CX Trends

Customer Experience Strategy Best Practices to Keep up with 2023 CX Trends

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Customer Experience Strategy Best Practices to Keep up with 2023 CX Trends

With inflation and global uncertainty continuing to loom over consumers across the globe, customer expectations have evolved yet again and are placing more focus on brands’ value offerings.

But through this challenge comes an opportunity to provide the experience those customers are seeking. By understanding consumers’ changed habits + behaviors, brands can pivot their strategy, drive improvements, and deliver stronger customer experiences.

To help ensure your CX strategy for 2023 is positioned to deliver the value your customers expect, we’ve compiled the top consumer trends you need to know, along with customer experience strategy best practices to help align your goals and keep pace to deliver stronger ROI.

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Value will remain consumers’ top priority

Inflation is impacting consumer behavior causing customers to be more financially conscientious and pay better attention to how they allocate their spending. But they are still spending. And the key to winning (+ keeping) their business relies heavily on one important factor: the value you provide them.

But knowing that inflation is a reality and prices are on the rise, brands are struggling to maintain (or improve) their value perception with customers. Costs are going up but how do you move the needle on value?

The first customer experience strategy best practice is to understand what value means to your customers. Even brands within the same industry are going to vary on this definition, so it’s important to assess the needs of your specific customer base.

Across the board, consumers want more bang for their buck. But before you put all your focus on cost reduction efforts, you should know value is not always about the cheapest option. High value isn’t all about being less expensive—it’s about providing a differentiated product or service that customers feel ­is worth the price they paid.

To truly understand what’s “worth it” to your customers, you need access to intuitive CX reporting and analytics. This includes:

  • Role-based reporting – Ensure all levels of your organization have real-time access to the data + insights they need to drive meaningful actions that lead to tangible business outcomes.
  • AI text analytics – Gain a deeper understanding of customer feedback with a machine-learning approach that evaluates feedback the way a human would—looking beyond individual words to detect meaningful context from customer comments for more accurate answers and more relevant insights.
  • Benchmarking – Shed light on your performance relative to competitors and see where you need to go to lead your industry by leveraging core survey, text, branded, and social media reviews benchmarks.
  • Mobile reporting app – With role-based views, benchmarks, and close-the-loop functionality, the mobile reporting app helps you quickly move from insight to action, without taking anyone off the front lines.

Customers expect seamless digital interactions

Like we mentioned earlier, providing valuable experiences isn’t always about the price. Customers are evaluating their overall experience with your brand—from start to finish—and this includes digital touchpoints. Unfortunately, many brands struggle to provide customers with a consistent cross-channel experience.

This has a lot to do with rapid changes in the customer journey. The traditional “top to bottom” funnel of the past is no more. Customers now engage with brands when and how they want without a defined trajectory. And brands without an agile customer experience solution in place—one that measures across physical and digital channels—will have trouble providing a consistent experience at every touchpoint.

Through a combination of active and passive engagement methods, you can demystify customer intent and improve conversion, customer satisfaction, and brand loyalty. This customer experience strategy best practice includes:

  • Passive feedback – This always-on option lets customers react as they encounter issues, wish to provide feedback, or generally need assistance—giving you insight into the customer experience at the moment that are willing to voice their thoughts.
  • Active feedback – Invite users to provide feedback at strategic intervals based on real-time user behavior. When you do, you can pinpoint areas of frustration, friction, delight, and improvement for product feedback and validation, UX challenges, A/B testing, purchase abandonment, delivery experiences, and return visit intent.

The in-person experience is back—with higher expectations

Across the board, industries are seeing in-person traffic begin to return to pre-pandemic levels. This gives brands the opportunity to maximize every face-to-face interaction and service engagement they have in order to derive more value from each of those interactions, at every touchpoint. Here’s what that means for retail and restaurant brands:

How retailers can optimize in-store customer service

In the report, Predictions 2023: Retail, Forrester foresees major challenges for online-only brands that lack a physical strategy.

“In 2023, midmarket to enterprise-level pure-play retailers will need to choose one of three options: open physical stores (in the vein of Casper and Warby Parker), developing shop-in-shop locations (e.g., Macy’s/Toys R Us) or wholesale partnerships (e.g., Allbirds with Nordstrom and Zalando), or close their (virtual) doors. As consumers revert to pre-pandemic behaviors, the year-over-year change in online retail penetration in 2023 will settle back at 1.5% (down from a whopping 3.5% in 2020), meaning that 76% of total US retail sales will still occur offline.”

Additionally, recent SMG research shows more than half of consumers plan to shop in-store this holiday season—and these customers have high expectations for quick and convenient visits. Unfortunately, the CX key drivers that tend to take the biggest hit during high traffic times are “Availability of Assistance” and “Speed of Checkout.”

To prepare for busy in-store traffic and to meet the demands of in-person customers, retailers should take a close look at their self-checkout offerings, ensuring the tech is functional and up to date, and the process is as smooth and seamless as possible. Also, if you brand uses mobile POS, have an action plan in place to prevent customers from abandoning their cart if they see a long check-out line.

It’s also essential to have a prepared front-line staff ready to offer assistance to in-store customers. Data shows when a customer receives quality assistance, they spend more—but during busy holiday times, fewer customers are assisted. Be sure you’re maximizing your talent pool, scheduling, and service model to provide the level of in-store support that makes a great customer experience.

As restaurants continue digital transformation, don’t ignore in-person CX

Today, mobile apps have come a long way and are a huge presence in the restaurant industry, with 3 in 4 customers reporting using app ordering to place their digital orders.

But as digital ordering continues to increase across the restaurant industry, there is still a big part of the population that prefers human interaction. Not surprisingly, hesitance to use digital touchpoints increases with age, with data showing nearly 60% of customers over 55 preferring in-person ordering.

Other barriers to tech ordering that were mentioned: Didn’t want to download another app and using technology doesn’t make it easier. It’s also important to note here that though it’s the older customers who prefer in-person interactions, guests of all ages don’t believe digital food ordering channels are enhancing the ordering experience.

Employee engagement will impact the customer experience

There’s no denying the cost of goods has increased exponentially over the last year. There’s also no denying that most of this is out of your control and at the mercy of a damaged supply chain.

Ready for some good news?

This is also true for your competitors.

And so, as we all weather this inflation together, the brands that will come out on top won’t be the ones that somehow avoided higher prices—it’ll be the ones that provided customers with value.

And this starts with your front-line employees. With the right CX solution and reporting, you can empower and drive action with front-line employees—showing them where to focus to drive the greatest positive impact on the customer experience.

Because there’s a very important connection between engaged employees, satisfied customers, and better business outcomes. This progression (and the philosophy SMG was founded on) is called The Service Profit Chain, which demonstrates how engaged employees are more loyal, helping create highly satisfied and loyal customers—and highly satisfied, loyal customers lead directly to growth in sales and profits.

To create a value-forward experience for your customers, you must prioritize your employee engagement efforts and answer these questions:

  • What job differentiators are we offering to help attract and retain top talent?
  • Are we providing employees with rewarding and purposeful work?
  • How efficiently are we implementing employee feedback?

But don’t try to answer these questions on your own. Collecting feedback directly from associates and using that data to influence change across the organization is one of the best ways to set the stage for better customer experiences. When your employees see their feedback being translated into tangible change, they feel validated, respected, and satisfied—and your customers can see it, too.

How to drive value with your customer experience strategy best practices

Solidifying customer loyalty is not an easy feat right now. With a more discerning eye on value, consumers are being more selective about how they spend their discretionary funds—and unfortunately, that’s having a big impact on the retail, restaurant, and consumer service industries.

While this presents a bigger challenge for brands, it’s not an impossibility. Consumers are still spending money. They’re still going out to eat. They’re still shopping and pampering and getting their car serviced. Maybe less frequently and maybe with a smaller budget, but it’s happening.

These tighter budgets mean you need meaningful and actionable CX insights to capture a bigger portion of that share of wallet. Positioning your value and brand differentiators is how you’re going to ensure consumers select you over competitors.

Companies able to pivot and provide customers with the little extra value they are seeking will be the ones to snag up a bigger piece of the visit share pie. But this is not something that should be done alone.

In the report Planning Guide 2023: Customer Experience, Forrester predicts:

“Most customer experience (CX) leaders anticipate higher budgets over the next 12 months, despite growing economic turbulence and companies’ waning focus on customers. Even though they are optimistic, it is crucial that CX leaders invest to ensure their programs are as effective and efficient as possible to insulate themselves against unexpected budget cuts, whether in 2023 or during the next budget cycle. [Forrester recommends] investing in projects, skills, and technologies that will improve the quality of CX programs’ work and cutting spending in areas that are prone to bloat.”

With the support of an experience management partner—one with dual emphasis on platform and professional services—brands can more easily measure + improve experiences across the customer journey to drive business outcomes.

As a leader in experience management, SMG changes how brands act on customer feedback. And our unique software with a service (SwaS) model makes it faster and easier for you to see value. What kind of value? 500% ROI in just 3 years. Request a demo to get expert advice from our team on what to do next.