CSG®, the leader in innovative customer engagement, revenue management and payments solutions that make ordinary customer experiences extraordinary, today released its 2022 State of the Customer Journey report. Drawing on over 10 billion customer journey interactions, the research found that companies reached their customers through an ever-broadening mix of digital channels, finding increasingly sophisticated ways to connect with their customers at scale.
The report highlighted the efforts of global brands to deepen levels of engagement with their customers by shifting focus away from sales and customer acquisition toward long-term loyalty and customer goodwill, both at and after the point of sale. As such, use cases like smart notifications and digital customer service became vitally important and made significant gains during socially distant times, with consumers now expecting these instant interactions online or in-store.
Top takeaways from this year’s research include:
- Smart notifications take customer journey gold as top channel: With the world moving faster than ever, brands embraced “micro-moments” to capture customers’ attention at the right time and in the channels they already use. Case in point: smart notifications accounted for more than 50% of journey interactions and took the top spot as the number one customer journey use case in 2021. Notably, SMS texts presented a unique opportunity for immediacy, engagement and personalization. CSG found that SMS notifications increased by almost 1,000% year over year, and for good reason: 90% of messages are read within 3 minutes.
- Voice and SMS make a powerful 1-2 punch: It turns out consumers still want to “phone a friend,” as total phone calls increased in volume by 290%, with inbound calls accounting for 31% of total calls in 2021. This trend highlights the growing importance and value of intelligent automated phone system technologies like interactive voice response (IVR), which can better understand customer needs and offer more self-service options for faster resolution. Like voice, SMS saw a big increase in adoption, with overall message volume more than quadrupling year over year (304%). As businesses adapt to notifying consumers in real-time, whether to confirm a delivery or provide a fraud alert, SMS will soon become a requirement to compete.
- Email makes a rebound: Despite the rumors heard year after year, email is not dead. Email interactions grew steadily since last year’s report (+145%). It triumphed as the most popular channel for journey interactions for customer notification, onboarding, digital customer service and acquisition. Email’s scalability and low technical requirements for personalization continue to make it a powerful “must-have option” for any company’s digital channel mix.
- Journey interactions rise across the board, across industries:
- Financial services: Timely, accurate communication is especially important when it comes to managing and protecting our wallets. To meet this expectation, financial services institutions became the ambassadors for channel mix diversity, with 40% more variety in their communication channel delivery than other industries. Not only are banking customers being kept better informed, but banks are building greater trust and confidence with their customers, which will lead to more business down the road. Interestingly, phone channels reigned supreme, accounting for 69% of digital customer service interactions.
- Telecommunications: The telecom industry also had a lot to gain from channel diversification. Communications service providers (CSPs) got savvier with their channel mix (+36% than average) to retain customers long-term while also pursuing innovative ways to acquire new subscribers. In a highly competitive market, CSPs can ensure current customers are happy by making their experiences simple and easy. On the acquisition front, CSPs need to leverage sophisticated segmentation and analytics to show that they know what future customers are looking for, and then be able to adapt their communications and interactions in real-time to deliver value even before the customer signs up.
- Retail: Retail brands are mastering the channels they’ve used for years — on average tapping two — but are now standing out in other ways. They are broadening ways for customers to interact with the brand, whether through e-commerce with convenient upsell suggestions during checkout (the digital version of snacks in the checkout line) or hybrid options like buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS). Overall, the opportunity to create the best journeys in retail will come from increasing everyday value-add and orchestrating transactional messages through the most intelligent journey workflows possible.
“Winning with customer journeys is quite straightforward: be where your customers are,” says Mark Smith, VP of digital engagement solutions at CSG. “If it’s across six channels, your brand should have a uniquely enticing presence in each, but also ensure you offer consistent value and experience. The goal, especially after the hardships of the pandemic, is to uplift your customer and elevate the experience they have with your brand in the most proactive, predictive and personalized way possible. This digital transformation shift is here to stay, and businesses are realizing the benefits of digital communications that are intelligently coordinated, as evidenced by the expanding channel mix and rise in smart notifications.”
CSG tracked more than 10 billion customer journey interactions in 2021 through its customer journey orchestration platform, a component of CSG Xponent™. CSG defines a customer journey interaction as an instance where an API triggers an action to be taken on a channel within the customer journey. New this year, CSG supplemented its journey orchestration data with data from voice and messaging channels (U.S. only), also spanning 2021, with 2020 volumes for comparative reference.
Read CSG’s full analysis, findings, and recommendations in the global industry report: State of the Customer Journey 2022.
CSG is a leader in innovative customer engagement, revenue management and payments solutions that make ordinary customer experiences extraordinary. Our cloud-first architecture and customer-obsessed mindset help companies around the world launch new digital services, expand into new markets, and create dynamic experiences that capture new customers and build brand loyalty. For over 40 years, CSG’s technologies and people have helped some of the world’s most recognizable brands solve their toughest business challenges and evolve to meet the demands of today’s digital economy with future-ready solutions that drive exceptional customer experiences. With 5,000 employees in over 20 countries, CSG is the trusted technology provider for leading global brands in telecommunications, retail, financial services and healthcare. Our solutions deliver real world outcomes to more than 900 customers in over 120 countries. To learn more, visit us at csgi.com and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.