As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to never have an end and people continue to adapt to changing times, there will be new trends businesses will have to watch out for in 2022. It’s an increasingly evolving world – the pandemic accelerated changes that were expected to happen probably in a decade or so. The following are just some of the many trends that businesses will have to watch out for in this new year.
1. Progress on a cashless society.
I remember reading Bill Gates’s The Road Ahead in 1995. One of the chapters focused on how we would become a cashless society, where we could transfer cash from business to business and person to person with a device we would carry with us. That device is our mobile phone, which is much more than a phone. Just today, I saw a street performer in New York City. As he “passed the hat” after his performance, he also showed the audience how to Venmo him a tip if they didn’t have cash.
The pandemic accelerated the use of cashless technology. More and more, we will see companies accepting electronic payments. In some cases, businesses will no longer accept cash. Some argue that this will discriminate against certain customers, a topic to cover in another article. Just know this is coming, and it’s something that can’t be stopped.
2. Personalization is becoming the competitive differentiator.
Our customer service research indicates that 75% of Americans are more likely to be loyal to a company or brand that delivers a personalized customer service experience. Today’s customers are starting to expect brands to promote what they are interested in versus what they are not. They expect companies to remember who they are, know what they’ve bought in the past and predict what they will need in the future.
Customers willing to share the information needed to personalize their experience expect the company to treat that information like it is gold, appropriately protecting it and not abusing the privilege of having it.
3. Privacy is more important than ever.
This is a follow-up to No. 7, personalization. The customer expects that if they share information that allows a company to have a better relationship with them, it won’t violate the privilege of having that information. It’s an implied promise. It’s also a legal issue. Don’t abuse personal information, or you may lose more than the customer’s trust. You’ll also lose the customer.
4. What a company stands for becomes part of the CX.
This may be one of the most important trends and predictions I’ll share in this article. More and more, customers are expecting brands to stand for something important to their community or even the world. It makes customers feel good to buy from and support companies that stand for something, making it part of the customer’s experience. Often, the cause is environmental sustainability, but it can be anything important to the customer.
Some customers choose a cosmetic company because it doesn’t test its products on animals. Some choose a retailer because of its charitable contributions to important causes in the community. This is even more important to the younger Gen-Z and Millennial generations, which are becoming our largest and most powerful groups of customers and have acknowledged that a company’s “impact” is part of their decision to do business with one company over another.
5. The Great Resignation will be a history lesson.
During the pandemic, many employees were laid off. At first, it hurt, and for many, it still does. Yet, some employees realized there might be a better way of life. When given the opportunity, they chose not to come back. Some who were gainfully employed simply chose to quit.
However, the companies that took care of their employees, both in the way they were paid (salary and benefits) as well as how they were treated, were minimally impacted by the trend. My prediction is that many employees who “resigned” will find that having a job is a better idea than not, but it has to be the right job.
Or, having a higher-paying job, with the responsibility and stress that comes with it, could be tolerable under a new set of conditions. Employees will return, but they will demand to be treated the right way. Companies will find ways to offer employees fair compensation and treat them better.
As I created this list, I had many more predictions, trends, and insights I could have included. I believe that most, if not all, of what’s on this list can apply to any business. Without a good employee experience, you won’t have a consistently good customer experience. The Great Resignation has forced some companies to struggle in both the employee and customer experience, but this should change in the not-too-distant future.
Here’s to 2022 being the best year ever!
This article has been reprinted with permission from Shep Hyken Forbes’ page.