In 2022, brands will look to their customer experience (CX) teams to help them navigate their way through the pandemic by adjusting to a “new normal” and managing customer expectations and emotions around topics such as digital acceleration and digital saturation, sustainability, and privacy.

Customers Will Want Over Half Of Pandemic-Era Services To Become The “New Normal”

As pandemic restrictions lift, companies and institutions have begun to resume some pre-pandemic ways of doing business by ending senior shopping hours, reinstating hoops for passengers to jump through to change a flight, and transitioning away from virtual options. That’s a mistake, because consumers have grown used to many of the services and will continue to want them (e.g., curbside pickup, remote meeting options, and expanded digital payment). Forrester data backs this up. For example, one-half to two-thirds of US and European consumers say that the pandemic has changed how they shop for products. Consumers are also suffering from digital saturation, putting pressure on companies to manage increasingly hybrid customer experiences across physical and digital touchpoints that require connected data, ecosystem thinking, and orchestration of customer, employee, and partner journeys. Brands that successfully navigate the transition to the new normal will avoid a wholesale reversion and analyse current customer insights and research to evaluate which services to keep, adjust, or toss.

Twenty-Five Percent More EU Businesses Will Appoint Chief Sustainability Officers

In the last 12 months, the EU: 1) adopted a climate adaptation policy; 2) introduced the first delegated act for its taxonomy, stipulating what counts as environmental objectives for EU climate adaptation and mitigation; and 3) adopted a proposal to make corporate sustainability reporting standardised and mandatory for more companies from 2023. But EU consumers are skeptical; Forrester’s 2021 data reveals that just 34% trust companies when they say they will commit to reducing climate change. Greenwashers that have only embraced sustainability in their communications will struggle to adapt. Thus, 25% more EU companies — especially in financial services and retail — will add chief sustainability officers to their rosters in 2022. Companies will need to understand the role of emotion in sustainability, breaking down barriers to a sustainable lifestyle.

Privacy Journey Design Will Become A Key CX Priority In 2022

Data deprecation will force companies to collect more data directly from customers to offer individualized experiences in 2022, creating the need for privacy or consent journeys designed with the customer in mind. While 37% of global security decision-makers consider privacy to be a competitive differentiator, at least one-quarter of global consumers use privacy and security tools to prevent firms from tracking their online activity. As a result, Forrester predicts that CX leaders at 20% of European companies and 10% of US firms will turn their attention to privacy and consent journeys. CX pros at firms looking to reduce reliance on third-party data should work with their firm’s marketing, IT, and security and risk teams to carefully design and measure journeys based on compliance standards that vary by industry, business type, and individual customer. In the spirit of “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” these firms should include privacy-related KPIs and metrics in their CX measurement programmes to monitor journey performance.

Join me and my colleagues, Maxie Schmidt and Martin Gill, for a look into the future of customer experience during our complimentary webinar on the 17th of November. We’ll touch on key insights, including a “new normal” for both brands and customers, why we think sustainability will take centre stage, and why privacy journey design will become a key CX priority in 2022.

To understand all of the major dynamics that will impact European businesses next year, download Forrester’s complimentary Predictions guide or visit our Predictions 2022 hub.