Kari Korkiakoski

Since 2015, I have published each year in January the 10 customer experience trends. Looking back at the trends from previous years, some of the ideas and phenomena have hit the spot and you could probably laugh at some of them. More essential than staring at the year, is the opportunity to find new broader or everyday themes that promote the development of the customer experience for the beginning year. Where can these trends and phenomenas coming from? They are based on conversations with clients, observations made in client work, following international discussions in the field and my own everyday observations. I hope that I can offer you some tips to support the development of the customer experience in 2023!

1. Digital is a default

Over the past year, I have seen several customer experience strategies centered on “digital customer experience”. This observation is also supported by research conducted by Futurelab Experience, according to which ease and effortlessness are at the center of the customer experience vision. They are naturally related to the potential and development of digital solutions. But as I’ve reiterated many times over the course of 2022, there is no such thing as a digital customer experience.

However, digital solutions will be indispensable in 2023. Customers assume that they can do things online if they want to. Customers no longer thank, let alone reward, the fact that things can be done on a mobile phone or desktop. But customers immediately “punish” if this is not possible. This is also confirmed by the extensive research which is behind the book “The Big Miss – how organizations overlook the value of emotions”. The biggest challenge seems to be that digital channels are not connected to “human channels”. When there’s a need to contact brand or company, is it easily possible – let alone at all? In 2023, the critical factor is reaching people when necessary.

2. Customer experience is in the hands of the silent ones

In larger organizations – be they companies or communities – CX development often takes place at the head office. The development is about breaking silos and improving processes. And of course, customer service or people working with customers may also be included in the discussion. But unfortunately, groups whose role in everyday encounters or development is significant are left out of development. These silent ones who are forgotten in the development work are, for example, delivery truck drivers, cleaners, warehouse workers, plant managers, IT support workers, specialists, installers and packers. To simplify, the lower the salary, the bigger the effect to CX is.

These silent ones are encountered in the customer’s everyday life and their role is not seen or understood. That is why they are not listened to or involved in development. But now would be a good time to change the situation, follow their everyday life and empower them to create experiences that exceed expectations. They know how to tell more about customers and what customers “always” ask or do. They know how to provide quick results for 2023. Let’s make these quiet ones loud.

3. Customer stories in the customer experience development

Customer stories have been utilized a lot in brand building. Typical examples are the operations of Virgin Atlantic and Nike. But in developing and redeeming the customer experience, stories are used far too little. However, stories are a key (subconscious role in decision-making) means of influence, so why aren’t they used more to make the customer experience visible. Instead of just developing processes and operating models, stories about customers’ everyday life and the experiences should be made visible.

The story cannot be made up, but must be genuine, personal and empathetic. Through a story, a company or organization can make concrete both for customers and its own employees how it works in normal customer encounters, but especially in challenging situations. Through stories, you can also highlight your own employees (note trend number 3) and their successes. There should be an investment in presenting stories, but it is important that they are not only used as marketing tools, but that they are used more widely in customer work.

4. Emotional cookie concept

After the car accident, the car was returned from the workshop to its owner, but glass chips were still found in the child’s car seat. After contacting the concerned mother, the insurance company decided that in the future, in all accidents where the windshield breaks, the child’s car seat will also be replaced. The insurance company also decided that a small teddy bear would also be included in each replaced car seat. There were only about 30 of these cases per year, but the insurance company was surprised at how much attention these teddy bears received in the media.

This is an excellent example of the emotional cookie concept that I came across in The Big Miss book . The peak end concept is a familiar idea to every customer experience developer, but in this case the teddy bear is not the peak, but above all the “end”. An emotional cookie can be brought along at a suitable point in the customer’s path. It is not a marketing gimmick, but its purpose is to communicate to the customer that they and their needs are known and taken into account. What are your emotional cookie concepts?

5. The protective effect of customer experience in recession

According to all forecasts, the global economy will suffer a recession during 2023. For example , Forrester has stated that every fifth customer experience development project is terminated during the year it started. Instead of waiting for these threats, now would be the time to make the risk-protective effect of the customer experience visible. The better the customer experience, the better the organization is protected from the recession.

The customer experience affects the fact that customers are not the first to look for cheaper replacement products. And the customer experience affects the fact that customers are more likely to return when the situation recovers from the recession. And if the organization has a need to achieve savings, results can be achieved in other ways than by weakening the customer dialogue. Online services, instructions and, for example, return processes will be improved so that the number of contacts will decrease. Now it is important to show the management that customer experience is truly business development in many areas.

6. The challenge of change management

All management is change management. But of all aspects of management, customer experience management is the most difficult, stated one director who woke up to the importance of customer experience. Could it be concluded from this that customer experience change management is therefore the most difficult?

Futurelab Experience conducted a survey of the current state of customer experience 2022, and based on that, organizations have experienced the biggest challenges in customer experience change management. That is, how the organization’s operations could be changed to be more customer-oriented.

So what is customer experience change management in 2023? Is it somehow different from other management? I think this year it would be important to see the whole in a sufficiently broad way. Customer experience change management is the renewal of competence, processes, resources and culture to be more customer-centric. The message is clear – in order to bring about change, a broad-based commitment and participation is needed.

7. You are the best customer

A couple of months ago I received a call from the operator. The caller asked if I was satisfied with the subscriptions that are in my name (my children’s subscriptions). We talked briefly and I stated that everything is fine. Finally, the caller said that the fixed-term subscription contract is ending in a couple of months and the contract will continue at the same prices. Of course, he wanted me to continue the contracts and not rush to tender subscriptions. The important thing was that he didn’t try to sell anything.

Right now is a good time to thank customers. Customers appreciate being interested in their situation. And for almost every customer, if necessary, a real reason to be in touch can also be found. The so-called service recovery paradox model has been studied a lot. The point is simply that customer loyalty is greater after a well-handled problem than without it. Customers have been increasingly directed to self-service and the so-called human contacts may be absent for a long period of time. In a problem situation, there may be a new opportunity that should be seized. This does not mean that problems are caused to customers that can be fixed and thus increase customer loyalty. On the eve of a recession, thanking customers also works as an effective “emotional cookie” element.

8. What is the Finnish customer experience like?

When I discuss the vision or the will state of the customer experience of organizations, ease, professionalism or, for example, the desire to be the Amazon of the industry, most often come into focus. Ease and professionalism are actually assumptions for customers, so they are not enough to be differentiating factors. And on the other hand, who could beat Amazon?! I think now is the time to recognize the Finnish perspective on customer experience. Instead of trying to copy what is being done in the world, we are looking for our own distinctive customer experience will state.

Finnish companies too easily place themselves in the area of ​​functionality. Especially B2B companies focus on taking care of basic things and think that the customers would appreciate it. That’s the assumption that things work! Could a specialist in a specialty store find himself in the area of ​​personality – it offers his customers the feeling that “I am known”. Where are the Finnish companies investing in surprise and stories? For example, Varusteleka, The Other Danish Guy and Lapland Hotels surprise in their own way. Varusteleka’s operation and tone-of-voice reflects its owner, but it does not scale beyond the Finnish language. The Other Danish Guy in its marketing, but does it materialize into an experience? And does Lapland Hotels rely on stories stemming from Lapland? In 2023, courage will be rewarded – look for a unique Finnish way of customer experience.

9. The Google era is almost over

I myself have often stated that there are no more yellow pages – everything starts with Google. B2B and B2C services and products are searched for in the same way, by googling. Now it looks like an era may be coming to an end. Google is no longer a self-evident source of searches. According to Google itself, already 40% of 18-24 year olds in the USA start their search on either Instagram or TikTok when they are looking for a lunch restaurant, for example. Only after ideation and selection is the map service opened. The new generation expects visuality and interactivity from the content – Google’s traditional boring search view and presentation of results are no longer enough for them. At the same time, this new generation also challenges Google’s core business – search engine marketing – and the cash flows it brings. TikTok, in particular, differs from Google in one more significant way – there is no opportunity to get the same organic visibility. It is necessary to invest in marketing.

In 2023, it would be a pretty good time to start this change. For example, recruiting could be a good place to start. TikTok has already surpassed Twitter, Telegram, Reddit, Pinterest and even Snapchat in the number of users. And it’s good to realize that the lessons learned from Facebook are no longer enough – the new generation requires a new way of thinking. The discussion, especially on TikTok’s privacy issues, has been active and it is worth staying awake.

10. “Remote-first” – a new way of thinking about work

At last, with the corona virus, we have learned to see the advantages and disadvantages of remote work. I believe that almost everyone’s everyday life left permanent changes from these years. Today, more people work remotely than before, and there are 250,000 jobs in the capital Helsinki region alone where remote work is possible. Instead of just talking about remote work, the “remote-first” thinking can be seen in the everyday life of more and more organizations. So remote work is the primary way to work.

The remote-first idea could be translated into “remote first”. This should be taken into account both from the point of view of customer experience and employee experience. According to the research conducted by Futurelab Experience, the impact of the corona has been twofold. Some of the respondents felt that there have been permanent changes in the customer base, some answered that there have been no changes. And in the same way, the vision of customer meetings also fell apart. This refers above all to physical meetings. So now it’s time to find out how your customers’ way of working has changed due to the corona. Namely, it affects your ability to produce desired experiences for customers.

Since there is a strong connection between customer experience and personnel experience, it is worth thinking about how remote-first thinking is implemented. How does it, for its part, support the goals of the customer experience? At the same time, the office thinking could also be renewed. When you come to the office, what do you do there? Are there more open areas and could we even leave the desktops at home sometimes?!

Hopefully, these ten customer experience trends for 2023 provided you with ideas that you can apply in your own work. Which of these ten do you think is the most important? Was something essential missing? Comments are welcome! And success in the new year!


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