As 2021 draws to a close, it is clear that the events and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to significantly impact the customer experience (CX) market, according to a new webinar and companion white paper produced by Dash Research. While some of the most drastic aspects of CX changes due to the pandemic were temporary measures, other practices demonstrated significant value to both the customer and provider and are likely to stay.
“The most impactful trends that emerged in 2021 were both interrelated and interdependent, reflecting the interconnected worlds of digital engagement, physical fulfillment, and health and safety issues,” says principal analyst Keith Kirkpatrick. “While many of these trends began during 2020, they were often accelerated by various economic and public health conditions that arose in 2021, including labor shortages, supply chain issues, and an increased focus on digital/real-world customer journeys.”
These market factors have led to an increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, with business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations in particular deploying AI-enabled chatbots and tools to handle routine tasks, freeing up workers to address more complex issues. Automated marketing and messaging took center stage as businesses leveraged technology to maximize sales, marketing, and services efficiency, and the use of technology extended to CX functions, such as customer contact centers.
Similarly, business-to-business (B2B) organizations increased use of collaboration platforms and video-conferencing tools to ensure seamless business continuity, conducting sales, marketing, and other business engagements via online channels, in lieu of in-person meetings. And as the most severe impacts of the pandemic lessened in certain parts of the world, some companies initiated the use of hybrid workplaces, which saw the return of some workers to their places of business on a part-time basis, while allowing others to continue to work remotely.
Dash Research’s analysis further indicates that, with the continued shift to omnichannel communications and customer-centricity, customers are seeking fully integrated CX platforms. As a result, vendors are shoring up their product portfolio through two primary methods: (1) mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, where new functionality or features are added through the acquisition of another company that already has these capabilities; and (2) via the funding market, which provides them with the capital required to build out new functionality. Dash Research’s webinar and white paper showcase fundraising and M&A activity by Kore.ai, Netomi, Terminus, Qualtrics, Zendesk, and Concentrix.
Looking ahead to 2022, as some industries strive for a return to normal (e.g., travel & hospitality, retail, and healthcare), Dash Research expects to see greater investment in CX platforms and programs to support customers throughout the entire journey. Personalization will continue to be used as a differentiator, not only for B2C business, but also for B2B companies that are trying to deliver a right-sized offering for each customer. Greater visibility into supply chains may be a differentiator for some companies, particularly if bottlenecks remain.
Further, improvements to CX through mobile, social, and other non-traditional channels will be front and center, as omnichannel approaches mature. Large customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platform (CDP) vendors will continue to add new features and functions that make it easier for companies of all types to add AI and automation across all functional areas. And despite the push to incorporate technology, businesses will focus on balancing human agents and automation to build a better rapport with customers.
Dash Research’s webinar, “The State of the CX Market in 2021”, along with its companion white paper of the same title, focus on the CX trends that emerged in 2021, the impact those trends had on CX implementation, and the processes and strategies that are expected to continue well into 2022. The webinar and white paper also focus on the M&A and fundraising activity that occurred in 2021, as well as providing an assessment of relative customer demand and maturity of 10 CX techniques. The white paper is available as a free download on Dash Research’s website and the webinar replay is also available.
Dash Research, the market intelligence arm of Dash Network, provides in-depth research and insights on the worldwide CX market including a comprehensive assessment of technology solutions, business issues, market drivers, and end-user dynamics across industry sectors. Dash Research’s global market coverage combines qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to provide a complete view of emerging business opportunities surrounding contact center technologies, customer data & analytics, customer data platforms, customer insights & feedback, customer relationship management, personalization & optimization, and employee experience. For more information, visit www.dashresearch.com or call +1.720.603.1700.