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For my first article as tech expert for the Customer Experience Foundation, I want to share my opinions and views of the state of the UK Contact Centre and CX industry in 2023 : both good and  bad.

Right now, sentiment depends on who you’re speaking to and that person’s outlook – pessimism and optimism are both circulating currently with economic uncertainty and international issues.

The CX industry is fortunate to blessed with many knowledgeable and experienced people. Alongside the industry experts I am connected to, when doing my research, I saw Forbes recently cited data by HBRAS (Harvard Business Review Analytical Services) focusing on CX, highlighting that if it isn’t already, CX should be a number one priority for businesses this year.

We’ve all probably seen slogans like ‘Customer obsessed’, ‘Customer focused’ and website blurb highlighting that the company puts the customer first. But having your processes and business model built around customers is a different matter.

Is 2023 the year where businesses of all sectors look internally?

Operational efficiency and finding the means for a 360-degree view of your customer to improve CX is turning from a discussion topic to an active goal or challenge that needs resource, time and budget allocated to solve it. Data shows only 16% of organisations have a single view of their customers currently.

What does this mean? I think it perfectly demonstrates how much good work is yet to be done to deliver customers an experience they value which will build brand loyalty. The value of people in this part of the business is critical, not only understanding how customers are dealing with you now but how do they want to deal with you in the future.

Messaging themes like stability, reducing costs, maximising resource, minimalising financial risk all sound very heavy. And which do you prioritise?

It does feel like we’re in a period of high staff turnover currently, but is it any better or worse than every year?  We know that January is a period of fresh starts but it doesn’t change the fact that as always, it’s disruptive and costly so businesses need to be creative to attract and retain the top talent in the market.

Challenges like data privacy and security is an increasing concern, with more transactions being done online with the increased customer demand of omnichannel and digitalisation, this will require investment in secure systems and processes, as well as ongoing training and education for front line people.

Another challenge surfacing in 2023 is shaping up to be balancing the use of AI, automation and human expertise. While both can improve the efficiency of contact centres, they must be used in conjunction with human expertise in order to deliver a high-quality customer experience.

The best cases I have seen so far are companies that are finding that blend and not looking at this as a way of just stripping costs or resources by removing staff or existing customer centric processes.

Obviously these aren’t small challenges that are quick fixes or which can be ignored and ultimately one or all of the above may already be on your C-Suite radar as the strategies they want to tackle in order to meet their strategic goals for the business this year.

This is a great opportunity for businesses and their people to grow.  Demand for Contact Centre services are growing as more businesses recognise the importance of delivering exceptional customer service, which is driving more investment in technology, training, and staff development.

Secondly, the growth of omnichannel communication which integrates channels such as voice, email, chat, and social media, is expected to continue to gain momentum. Convenient, predictable and flexible service have become vital. The better customers are served, at each touch point, and across their journey, the more likely they are to stay loyal.

As an example, it was found that 94% of customers said that positive customer service experiences make them more likely to re-purchase.

Lastly, advancements in AI and automation are expected to continue to revolutionise the Contact Centre industry, allowing companies to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide 24/7 support to customers.

The use of AI and automation will also provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling companies to deliver personalised experiences.

Will it be as revolutionary as some think or have we just scratched the surface? In 2023 we’ll likely find out.

To summarise, my sentiment is fairly positive – speaking with thought leaders, the CXFO team, technology vendors and customers, everyone is aware that we’re in a challenging period but there is a feeling the UK Contact Centre industry is poised to see several positive developments in 2023, all of which are showing a growing demand for Contact Centre services and re-prioritising the industry as a much louder voice in the boardroom when shaping the business strategy for the future.

James Connors

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