2024 retail CX trends you need to know

January 11, 2024

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More than ever, consumers are being pressured to buy more, share more data, express loyalty via subscriptions and introduce new business via referral schemes.

But as consumers are asked to give more, economic challenges have driven brands to offer less. Unfortunate but necessary cuts over the past few years have made it harder than ever for consumers to get in touch with brands when they need to. To many consumers, it feels that retail brands are no longer living up to their promises.

But times are changing. With the National Retail Federation reporting a healthy economy at the end of 2023, and Deloitte reporting a rise in consumer confidence in Q3, 2024 is shaping up to be a good year.

As the economy continues to grow, competition will become even fiercer. Transformative retail brands will be rethinking customer interaction and engagement to drive brand loyalty above all else. Here are five CX trends retailers will need to be prepared for in 2024.

1. Personalization takes the next step.

In 2024, customer service teams will begin to look more like personal shoppers or hotel concierges than traditional contact centers. A combination of live agents and automated systems will be able to coach customers through purchasing decisions.

This is thanks to advancements in machine learning, which means we can now process and analyze vast amounts of data from both online and offline channels to understand exactly what customers want and when they want it.

This will enable next-level personalization, with agents and automated systems increasing the value they add for customers through bespoke product recommendations and individual special offers.

2. Voice makes a comeback.

Retailers have made every effort to provide digital self-service, but customers still want to phone.

In 2024, retailers will embrace the phone as a channel for deploying sophisticated AI-powered voice assistants, empowering them to meet customer demand within operational boundaries. To consumers, these automated systems will feel like personal voice assistants in the vein of Alexa, or Google Home, but will be acting on behalf of brands to drive customer loyalty and lifetime value.

Deploying voice assistants in the contact center will give customer service teams greater insights into why customers are calling and how to best engage, driving a new wave of CX transformation across the business.

3. Brand engagement is out. Customer collaboration is in.

In 2024, winning customer loyalty will be more difficult than ever, driving retail brands to think beyond engagement.

As customers become more discerning, they will expect more transparency and collaboration with the companies they choose to do business with. Retailers will need to empower customers with all of the relevant information to make smart purchasing decisions.

Customer-led retail brands will take the concept of collaboration further, offering customers the opportunity to contribute ideas and influence product development. Bringing customers into the brand in this way will drive loyalty and increase customer lifetime value.

Even without active participation, retailers will make use of data to drive customer-led product decisions in a more passive approach to collaboration that still reassures customers that they are heard and, more importantly, valued.

4. Customer service becomes a growth channel.

Customer service teams already sit on masses of data about what customers want. As retailers leverage AI technologies in the contact center, valuable insights around customer sentiment and purchasing trends will emerge.

These insights will enable customer service teams to proactively deliver personalized recommendations and services that drive brand loyalty, actively increasing customer lifetime value.

The customer service team will communicate these insights across the company to drive customer-led transformation throughout the business.

Smart CX leaders will already be folding this data – and the means of communicating it – into their ongoing strategies, giving them a head start on other departments and business units that will want to take the credit.

5. Generative AI continues to rise.

2023 saw a lot of buzz around generative AI, but applications of the technology were thin on the ground and the few early applications proved to be somewhat troublesome. One such application saw a Chevrolet dealership offering vehicles for as little as $1 when users quickly discovered how to manipulate its ChatGPT-powered chatbot.

As more work is done to create guardrails around generative AI, retail businesses will begin to launch reliable and accurate applications that are able to communicate with customers through truly natural conversations in voices that are indecipherable from those of live agents. This will enable retail brands to offer infinitely scalable personalized experiences over voice, as well as digital, channels.

The capability of generative models to parse vast amounts of conversational data will empower contact center and CX leaders to quickly and easily draw insights from customer calls that will be highly valuable across the entire business, cementing the importance of these teams in building and maintaining customer relationships.

Conclusion

2024 will see retail brands shift focus back onto the customer, rethinking what it means to ‘engage’, and establishing creative applications of customer collaboration.

Advances in technology that were hyped in 2023 (wink wink, generative AI) will quickly progress in terms of security and stability, opening doors for creative CX leaders to transform contact centers into revenue generators.

2024 will be a year of great opportunity for retail brands, and those who are bold enough to seize these opportunities will win customers’ hearts and wallets.

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