In an era of economic uncertainty, inflation, and changing customer priorities, businesses are faced with the challenge of where to allocate their budgets. One area that continues to prove its worth is customer experience (CX). There’s a strong connection between investing in CX and increasing the bottom line. But how can CX leaders and teams balance a growing budget with economic turmoil? The answer lies in investing in the highest-return customer experience strategies. This article will guide you through the key areas to prioritize in your CX investment for 2023.
The Power of Digital
The growth of digital allows brands to do more with less and scale their efforts. Even if customers aren’t necessarily increasing their purchases due to inflation, a strong digital network allows them to easily stay connected to the company and build goodwill for the future.
A survey by TELUS International found that 72% of leaders are spending more on digital CX in 2023 than 2022, with 68% increasing their digital budgets by up to 25%. Among the top digital investments are customer relationship management (CRM) systems, AI, and customer analytics.
Digital experiences make interactions more convenient for customers and allow them to fully experience a brand, regardless of the channel they use. In times of economic uncertainty, customers are more cautious about where they’re spending their money. A positive customer experience that integrates elements like AI-powered chatbots, mobile apps, and united web interfaces can help brands stand out from the crowd, leading to increased brand loyalty and customer retention.
One example is Lyft, which has committed to spending $300 million over the next few years on its customer-focused digital transformation. By investing in a more robust digital system and moving many of its services to an app, Lyft eliminated 65% of its human contacts for a more convenient and seamless experience.
The Need for Data
Alongside a push for digital experiences, CX teams need data to better understand their customers and if their customer-focused initiatives are effective. A Harvard Business Review study found that CX leaders feel a strong push to improve their customer data strategies because their current programs aren’t effective. 99% of leaders said that to remain competitive, it is very important for their company to integrate data into their business processes. 71% of leaders say they are looking to alter their CX data strategies.
Data has always been critical, so why the push to improve it now? Many companies are slowed down by siloed data and can’t access accurate, real-time data across channels. Investing in an improved customer data strategy means enhancing collaboration across departments for a more accurate view of data that allows brands to better connect with customers. In challenging economic times, pinpointing customers’ exact needs and providing hyper-personalized experiences is critical—and that comes from having a robust data strategy.
As technology and customers change, customer experience teams and contact center agents must also adapt with new skills and mindsets. One survey of CEOs found that 71% say a skills shortage will be their biggest business challenge this year.
To combat a skills shortage, many companies are investing heavily in upskilling their employees and preparing them for the future. It all ties back to customer experience—when frontline employees are prepared to handle new technology and have the skills to do their jobs, they are more engaged and can provide a better experience to customers.
By 2030, digital transformation will change more than 1 billion jobs worldwide. Companies that invest in upskilling and preparing their frontline employees will be better prepared to lead in a changing future. Verizon recently launched a $44 million upskilling program to train employees with the technical skills they need for in-demand jobs. Amazon is also investing $1.2 billion in upskilling 750,000 frontline workers with course options in more than 400 areas.
Customer experience budgets matter even more during tumultuous economic times. Make the most of your money by investing in the areas that impact your customers most and set your company up for long-term success.
In conclusion, investing in customer experience is not just about spending money. It’s about strategically allocating resources to areas that will have the most impact on your customers and, in turn, your bottom line. By focusing on digital transformation, data integration, and employee upskilling, you can ensure that your company is well-positioned to deliver exceptional customer experiences now and in the future.