(This article was first published in the Customer on January 18th, 2024)
For many CX professionals, leaving 2023 behind comes with a sigh of relief. The increase in customer expectations paired with turbulent market conditions made for a challenging year, to say the least.
Gathering rich customer feedback in times like these is imperative for companies looking to stay competitive. Creating collaborative relationships with customers and making a concerted effort to include their feedback in business decisions will continue to be the key to success in 2024. Now it’s all about how best to refine our listening skills.
As we enter into this new year, it offers a chance for us to reflect and gain a fresh perspective. And while reflecting on our own learning experiences is incredibly important, embracing insights from peers can often be the key to unlocking the most impactful insights for what lies ahead.
We’ve compiled some of the very best CX and UX use cases of the year into Alida’s 2024 Innovator’s Playbook, evaluating success stories from top brands like Warner Bros. Discovery, Wendy’s, Toyota GB, BMO, J.Crew Group, and more. Here are four emerging trends based on their stories that provide insightful clues into what lies ahead for CX in 2024.
Gone are the days of lengthy, bi-annual surveys. The truth is that market trends are moving far too quickly to only be conducting research every six months. In today’s fast-paced market conditions, customers don’t have the time or desire to participate in time-consuming studies. By the time their data is collected and analyzed, it’s already become irrelevant.
Companies are now finding more value in conducting short, consistent research as it provides a more relevant picture of their customers. Relevant data now is much better than data 6 months from now.
This approach ensures business decisions are informed by timely and insightful customer data, empowering companies to create far more impactful customer experiences.
Through their 11,000-member customer community, the Wendy’s Company has been able to take a consistent approach to research, conducting approximately 500 studies annually. This consistent and timely customer feedback has helped Wendy’s stay on top of changing customer preferences and product trends.
Segmentation and classification
Customers do not all share the same needs, making a one-size-fits-all approach to research ineffective in delivering optimal user and customer experiences.
Broad research focused on the average customer fails to uncover the nuanced requirements of a diverse audience. Customers expect highly personalized experiences and this is only going to become more intensified as time goes on. Prioritizing segmentation as part of your research strategy will become imperative to understanding the distinct customer groups, as “an outlier today might be mainstream tomorrow” shares Roger Martin in Medium.
Canada’s largest retailer, Canadian Tire, reached new heights in customer experience this year through its integration of transactional, loyalty, and direct consumer feedback data. The company was able to gain comprehensive insights into its various audience demographics, enabling its teams to easily segment studies for specific audiences, and enhancing their ability to reach out to the right customers, quickly, and effectively.
While segmentation will become a crucial research trend, brands must be careful not to delve too deeply into the statistical significance of their customer data. Statistical data is very good at identifying the present but falls short in preparing for the future. Companies must also incorporate qualitative research into their strategy to ensure customer research is well-balanced. This means cultivating relationships with audiences, understanding their world, carefully listening to their feedback, and building trust.
AI is your friend
While AI has been up-leveling the way we conduct customer research for a while now, in 2023 we saw an unprecedented uplift in research capabilities. Already, our ability to conduct quantitative research has become much faster and more effective but the real game changer lies with the future of qualitative research. We now have access to AI models that can be trained to conduct state-of-the-art qualitative research that intuitively prompts customers for richer insights without any human interference. What used to take months to accomplish can now be done in days or hours.
AI is making exciting changes in the CX industry, and it’s something not to fear, but to look forward to with optimism. It’s quickly becoming one of the best tools in our toolkit, helping us accelerate productivity and accomplish more than we ever thought possible.
Internal customer research
In this uncertain economic period, companies are understandably looking to save money wherever possible, including research. While research agencies are comprehensive, they have become a costly expense that doesn’t always provide the quick turnaround of customer insights companies are after.
Fortunately, there have been some amazing advancements in research technology, empowering organizations to conduct comparable studies internally with ease, leading to significant cost savings. The increased accessibility has made research a feasible reality for any internal team.
In 2023, we saw many companies turn to creating communities to complete efficient and cost-effective research. These highly engaged, verified, always-on communities of engaged customers have helped brands fuel sustainable business impact.
This year, Warner Bros. Discovery continued to leverage its 40,000-plus customer community to better understand its fan base. After 12 years of nurturing their community, the Warner Bros. Discovery research team has successfully conducted over 1000 studies to customers around the world, significantly increasing their speed to insights and ultimately saving them approximately $2M in research costs.
The landscape of CX and UX is evolving rapidly, and businesses must adapt and remain agile to stay ahead in 2024. The only way to do that: listen to your customers. Involve them in every step of your research process and don’t stop at statistical data. Given the opportunity, customers want to provide their thoughts and feelings on your brand. Invest in the right tools and lean into all the new and exciting technological capabilities now at our fingertips. Creating strong and trusting relationships with customers has never been more accessible.
Several companies like Wendy’s, Warner Bros. Discovery, Toyota GB, BMO, J.Crew, and others, are already making exciting CX and UX strides. Let’s continue learning from one another and let each other’s learnings and insights serve as a roadmap for successful CX strategies in the coming year.
Check out the complete compilation of winning CX and UX stories here in Alida’s 2024 Innovator’s Playbook: Proven community-centered strategies from top global insights teams.