How can businesses better connect with their customers in 2022?

Businesses will have to contend with the increased use of predictive customer analytics balanced with rigorous standards of customer privacy according to Shorful Islam, Chief Data Scientist at Tribal Worldwide London.

This insight is one of the emerging CX (customer experience) trends compiled in a recent report from customer review platform Feefo. Here’s how businesses can better connect with customers.

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Speaking on the role that predictive analytics will have in 2022, Islam said that the conflicting needs of privacy and utility intersect when using data. While customers may not want brands to know all the details of their life, they still want the customised experiences which are derived from companies knowing enough about their consumers to predict what they want and what they need.

He added that errors were to be expected as predictive analytics become more commonplace, but technology needed to be applied with an understanding of the methodology behind it.

As 2021 draws to a close, observations by multiple B2C thought leaders have indicated that businesses which can leverage advanced personalisation and predictive analytics will be at a clear advantage in 2022.

Purushottam Darshankar, Chief Data Architect at Persistent Systems, has forecast that the global predictive analytics market size to grow from $7.2 billion in 2020 to $21.5 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 24.5%, while consulting firm McKinsey says that predictive analytics could help businesses increase margins by up to 60%.

It may appear contradictory, but the customers demanding hyper-personalised customer experiences are more concerned than ever about their digital privacy. One Omnicom Media Group survey of 1,000 people indicated that 63% registered concerns about sharing data, with 31% saying they were extremely concerned.

Chris Baldwin, Vice President Marketing at cross-channel platform Insider, said businesses will continue to recognise the value of website personalisation as an integral part of the cross-channel digital experience for a range of consumers.

He said: “This imperative will become more complex due to the upcoming eradication of third-party cookies. Brands and retailers must start utilising first-party data from ‘events’ on their owned channels to make smart recommendations on what is surfaced throughout the CX.”

Baldwin is not alone in believing that only the most forward-thinking brands will reap the benefits of mastering highly tailored, one-on-one customer experiences. The ability to create stand-out personalised experiences that serve as a platform for gathering valuable first-party data, such as Nike’s foray into customised consumer experiences with Nike By You, will separate the winners from the losers when it comes to connecting with customers in 2022.

John Lamphiere, Regional Vice President of marketing firm ActiveCampaign, said: “Customer journeys have never been so fragmented and with the increasing number of channels to meet them on, that’s not changing any time soon. But despite all this complexity, customer expectations have never been higher. If personalisation was important in 2021, then going further to create 1:1 experiences that delight and create super fans will be hugely important in 2022.”

He said the old ways of recognising customer loyalty are no longer enough. Customers expect more than being sent a discount voucher on their birthday. Today’s consumers want recognition based on their individual consumer journey. They want to be offered tips and relevant information, and they want to benefit from perks and rewards without having to make a conscious effort to use that reward card.

It’s clear that the importance of both predictive analytics and the conflicting demands of privacy and personalisation will be key in how businesses connect with their customers in 2022. However, established trends observed through 2020 and 2021 are still expected to set the standards of brand-customer relationships into the new year.

COVID-19 has highlighted how businesses need to be agile in providing CX. As the pandemic caused sweeping changes to the way customers interacted with B2C industries, early adaptor brands thrived while others fell behind.

As the first UK lockdown was enforced, retail giant Tesco was quick to reorganise its resources and expand its e-commerce capabilities. This included the mammoth task of recruiting the staff needed to scale from 600,000 to 1,500,000 online customers per week. By maintaining an agile CX, Tesco was able to raise their e-commerce revenue from £3.3 billion to £5.5 billion within five months of the first UK lockdown commencing.

Alfonso de la Nuez, co-founder and co-CEO of experience insights management company UserZoom, emphasised how an agile CX can be essential to engage successfully with customers in 2021. In an article for Forbes on connecting user and customer experience, he wrote: “Product adoption and customer loyalty are increasingly dependent on the quality of a digital experience as a whole.”

He said that the nature of digital products is continual change and evolution. Ongoing experimentation and remaining agile are fundamental to success while maintaining a customer-centric approach. These are concepts that can be used to drive ongoing refinement of CX to engage and delight consumers.