2023 Customer Experience Predictions: What CX Leaders Need to Know

“2023” set against an icon background representing industries such as travel and hospitality, healthcare, and automotive

From established brands to disruptive startups, everyone is rethinking their strategies this year — check out the 2023 customer experience predictions that will guide your planning.

A new year calls for a new strategy. As 2023 kicks off, recognize that what you did successfully last year isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be as impactful this year. Organizations that lead industries with connected experiences know they need to adapt in order to remain ahead, and there’s no doubt your competitors are also rethinking their playbooks.

The last thing you want is to fall behind the competition, right? And it’s easy to lose ground if you don’t adapt.

Rethinking your strategy means analyzing the trends unfolding for all businesses and uniquely for specific industries. If you know where preferences and technologies are heading, you’re able to prepare right now to develop a winning formula. Both your customers and your employees will be better served, and you’ll stand out amid a fiercely competitive landscape and uncertain economic environment.

But there’s just one catch, and that’s figuring out what customer experience (CX) looks like in 2023. It’s very challenging to predict the future — yet not impossible, as long as you’re relying on experts with decades of experience overseeing programs for CX and employee experience (EX) for some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing brands.

What the Experts Say You Need to Know About Customer Experience in 2023

Customer experience predictions from experts with deep, strategic knowledge across industries guide where your organization needs to place its attention this year. In sharing their predictions, each expert highlights an area such as EX or the contact center, an industry like financial services, or a mixture with a perspective relevant to you, no matter your own industry.

Here’s what to expect in 2023, according to our experts’ customer experience predictions.

Retail: Physical stores, product assortment making hybrid experiences critical

What the expert, Mike Debnar, is saying: ”The analog part of the business is going to be the competitive differentiator in 2023. At the same time, there’s going to be a big push in technology to help brands get to answers faster as it relates to customer experience and customer behavior. So we’ll be able to understand what customers want, when they want it, and where they want it.”

The big takeaway: Retailers began undergoing a digital transformation in the decade leading up to 2020, but investments in new technologies accelerated significantly during the global pandemic. Now, it’s all about going back to basics with operational excellence.

Debnar sees physical, in-store experiences returning to importance and suggests that brands embrace a hybrid approach to serve consumers online and face-to-face. From product assortment and inventories to store navigation, he believes there’s plenty of room for improvement to build CX around behaviors — anywhere a touchpoint exists and in the moment.

Customer Experience: Increasing investments in omnichannel capabilities as new channels emerge

What the expert, Bill Staikos, is saying: “Omnichannel, as a strategy, turns 20 years old in 2023. Companies will accelerate investment in omnichannel capabilities, with digital as the foundational pillar — to drive down their cost to serve — and personalize experiences, particularly given the economic headwinds expected.”

The big takeaway: Between the emergence of new channels and the potential of a financial downturn, Staikos knows there are challenges ahead. But that doesn’t mean consumers will settle. Staikos expects customers to demand even more from brands. To keep up, it’s important to leverage technologies that automate processes while maintaining the natural experiences customers expect throughout the journey.

Healthcare: Building (or rebuilding) trust to serve patients and deliver better health outcomes

What the expert, Toni Land, is saying: “Take a step back and say, ‘How do we build and/or rebuild trust with patients, families, and communities?’ Recognizing this trust is foundational to creating relationships which then improves adherence, and then we start seeing those positive health outcomes that we’re looking for in helping people become their best selves.”

The big takeaway: Land points out three steps to get on the path to building (or rebuilding) trust as a healthcare organization — listening to patient feedback, communicating through preferred methods with patients and staff, and acting on feedback to make people feel heard. Overall, she suggests pausing to listen and process feedback from all channels before determining a course of action.

By consistently following up, whether feedback is positive or negative, Land believes your organization will take the right action and hold itself accountable to continuously improve.

Employee Experience: Going beyond traditional survey feedback to address challenges and empower employees

What the experts, Melissa Arronte and David Ostberg, are saying: “We’ll see companies using more ways to allow employees to express where they’re encountering obstacles to performing their job and inviting them to suggest ideas to improve,” says Melissa.

“We’ll continue to see progressive organizations harnessing data beyond survey feedback to understand what’s driving employee success and where disparities across different groups exist so they’re addressed quickly,” says David.

The big takeaway: Organization needs to tap into what employees say and how they feel in order to introduce changes that make an impact, and relying solely on traditional survey feedback isn’t enough.

Digital Experience: Shifting from understanding to orchestrating experiences that are help-oriented and perfectly-timed

What the expert, Michael Mallett, is saying: “2023 is the year in which we expect to see efforts evolve from simply setting up chat or engagement programs online to actually fueling, triggering, and promoting them as the faster-yet-still-intimate way of getting the help you need so that you don’t have to rely on another channel.”

The big takeaway: As a result of digital transformation over the last few years, leading brands know how to understand customers and their experiences. It’s now time to shift to orchestration. Organizations should be looking at help-oriented, perfectly-timed experiences that serve customers before they leave a channel unsatisfied.

Travel & Hospitality: Heading into an economic slowdown, travelers will be more selective about the brands they do business with

What the expert, Lorena Kurtjian Hernandez, is saying: “Travelers will be more discerning about who and how they spend their discretionary budget. And in an already competitive industry, it will be mission-critical for travel and hospitality companies to be more intentional and consistent in executing on their brand promise. Travelers will be a lot less forgiving if their flights or hotel stays don’t live up to their expectations.”

The big takeaway: To get ahead, savvy brands will need to focus on two key areas — the employee experience and contact center experience, Kurtjian Hernandez predicts. With service delivered by frontline employees as the ultimate differentiating factor for travel and hospitality brands, prioritizing recruiting, onboarding, training, recognition, and retention efforts will be more important than ever.

With corporate budgets tightening and the C-suite looking to contain costs, Kurtjian Hernandez says more leaders will recognize the true potential of the contact center — as a profit center. To unlock more revenue-generating opportunities, innovators will invest in the right tools for agents so they can better resolve issues, serve up more relevant offerings, and deliver a truly personalized experience.

Automotive: The customer journey will continue to rapidly evolve thanks to new product categories and evolving buying experiences

What the expert, Dana Macek, is saying: “In 2023, the auto industry will be further challenged by the recession and rising interest rates, the impact of which will be a shift from undersupply to oversupply, and cost increases that cannot be easily passed onto the consumer. All of this means that automakers, now more than ever, need to understand their customers’ wants and needs, across the shop-buy-own experience.”

The big takeaway: The automotive customer journey is rapidly changing, says Macek. That’s thanks to new product categories, such as electric vehicles, and thanks to evolving retail experiences, like shopping and purchasing vehicles digitally and remote delivery.

Employee experience is key to customer experience, and that will be true for automotive in 2023, she adds, both as the economy experiences a downturn and as digital transformation continues to unfold.

Public Sector: Industry leaders will evolve to design exceptional experiences for employees and customers

What the expert, Nina Bianchi, is saying: “We’re going to see more designing and managing a culture of experience, for both employees and customers. We’re seeing an increase in accountability, in collaboration, and really looking at the actions that guide our behavior inside organizations.”

The big takeaway: Culture happens, whether organizations plan for it or not, says Bianchi. That’s why savvy leaders will invest in the employee learning and development needed to strengthen organizational cultures and foster exceptional experiences for employees and customers.

At the same time, innovators in the public sector will lean into experience data to truly co-design the future — to shape the best experiences for employees and customers.

Rethink Your 2023 Customer Experience Strategy

Listen to the experts: 2023 is set to usher in plenty of change across industries. But with change comes opportunity, and that’s what our experts’ customer experience predictions highlight.

You can choose to continue with your strategy from 2022, but the reality is that you’ll fall short of customer wants, needs, and expectations — and given market conditions, you can’t afford any missteps. More than ever, it’s critical to deliver connected experiences by rethinking your customer experience strategy for 2023.