Steven van Belleghem
Jan 15, 2024

Eight CX trends to watch out for in 2024

World-leading expert in CX and best-selling author, Professor Steven van Belleghem, shares his predictions for the top customer trends in 2024—and what they mean for brands and agencies alike.

Photo: Steven van Belleghem.
Photo: Steven van Belleghem.

When I talk to customer experience professionals around the world at the moment, I hear varying levels of excitement on the latest technology trends and what they will mean for their roles, their customers and their brands alike. But what will these trends really mean for defining the relationship between companies and customers in 2024?

Here are a selection of emerging trends I think we should watch out for in 2024:

1. Search 3.0

Over the last few years, search engines have progressed from little more than a digital Yellow Pages to offering more relevant links through PageRank. The launch of ChatGPT could open the next phase of search with results tailored to your question.

Put simple, Yahoo gave you a library where you had to find the right books. Google selected the right books for you in that library. ChatGPT and other conversational bots can create a text especially for you, based on all the relevant books. The implications of this ultra-personalised search could be huge, as customers start to expect their wants and need to be met quicker, better and in their own language.

2. Personalisation at scale

Social media and ecommerce giants have been personalising their content and communications for years, but generative AI now allows every type of company to personalise their content marketing and customer interactions fast, and at a very large scale.

In the US, Khan Academy for instance, launched an AI-powered learning companion that helps students with personalised tutoring, while China’s leading dairy maker, Mengniu Dairy, announced MENGNIU.GPT to help consumers develop personalised meal and workout plans. There may not be a lot of examples yet, but the true pioneers are already leading the way.

3. High value customer service agents

As technologies like ChatGPT get better at adding a “human touch” to conversations with customers, empathetic humans with high emotional intelligence will become increasingly valuable to solve those customer problems that are still too complex, sensitive or emotional for the smart systems to solve.

4. Effective empathy

Every brand receives unexpected feedback from customers—what sets the mediocre companies apart from the great ones is how fast they turn this feedback into action. The only way to excel at this “effective empathy”, is by installing processes to turn feedback into action.

Lego is a great example for integrating customer feedback. It launched a crowdsourcing pilot in 2008 which became known as Lego Ideas, a community of nearly three million customers that has shared and debated more than 135,000 ideas and generated significant revenues for the company.

5. Augmented reality’s big breakthrough

Lots of people will be excited about the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro in 2024. This “spatial reality” device will be expensive at launch, but that’s the usual strategy for Apple—first build great hi-tech products, with excellent UX and allow third parties to create great services for these devices, then make it more affordable.

What’s interesting is that the Vision Pro is positioned as a general computing device, much like the Mac or the iPhone, built for Facetime, entertainment, gaming, productivity and even mental wellbeing. Once AR technology like this really takes off, it will have a huge impact on all things CX— not just in entertainment and gaming, but it could also usher in full transparency. Imagine AR glasses in retailers warning you about the health or environmental impact of ingredients or materials as you look at products. It could be a very challenging evolution for brands, but it is also an opportunity to develop products that are better for people and planet, as well as a more useful CX.

6. When HR meets CX

Company culture and the credibility of leadership are crucial for CX, so HR teams will play a leading role. It starts with hiring enthusiastic, empathetic people and training them to stimulate that people-oriented CX “muscle” with customer-centric onboarding programs.

But HR teams are also responsible for helping leaders realise that the CX culture starts with them. They should empower employees to always act in the interest of the customer, but also have a strong focus on employee wellbeing, because happy employees result in happy customers.

7. Pre-loved is hot

The secondhand market has been growing exponentially around the world in recent years, for both economic and ecological reasons, and we’ve already seen many brands jumping on that “preloved” boat.

Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, Levi's Secondhand program and The North Face Renewed all actively encourage customers to sell, and trade their used products. Even luxury brands like Gucci and Balenciaga are investing in secondhand and resell business models, and according to research firm IDC’s 2023 Smartphone Market Projection, the used phone market is growing at double-digit percentage levels. This is a sustainable and affordable service model worth investigating.

8. Friction-hunter CEOs

Often, executives in the C-suite are guilty of becoming so far-removed from their customers that they no longer know what’s important to them. But there is a fun trend of CEOs dedicating time to trying out their own products and services as customers themselves, to become more in touch with their wants and frustrations.

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airb'n'b for example, spent six months living on the premises that he’s been renting out through his own platform, which led to him making a list of 50 items that he wanted to change to improve the customer experience. Similarly, Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan works one half-day a month as a barista, while Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi got behind the wheel as a driver to experience driving customers and dealing with app glitches and traffic. But it is not just CEOs, all salaried employees of DoorDash are required to make deliveries through its WeDash program, and that includes CEO Tony Xu.

These are all fantastic examples of what I call “friction hunting." Perhaps your resolution for 2024 could be to spend more time out into the field looking for small frictions to then solve them in a manageable way?

We'll find out.

Prof. Steven van Belleghem is a world-leading expert in customer experience and best-selling author. His new book, A Diamond in the Rough, is out now.

Campaign Asia

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