Brands stand to lose 50% of their sales on backordered items unless they compensate with customer support, Forrester said in its Predictions 2022: Customer Experience report. The report also forecasted trends for pandemic era services as well as labor practices that may affect customer experience. The research company also published its 2022 consumer predictions as well, suggesting that brand values will continue to be a factor for customers.
Customer churn due to supply chain issues. Product availability is one of the most common reasons why U.S. consumers purchase from a retailer other than the one they originally planned on, according to Forrester. These unaddressed product shortages can lead to frustration, which negatively impacts customer loyalty. Brands that can stabilize their supply chains, suggest in-house alternatives to products that are out of stock and proactively message customers about shortages and expected availability are in the best position to curb customer churn, Forrester predicted.
Customers will want some pandemic-era services to be part of the new normal. Since the outset of the pandemic, companies have introduced new ways of doing business, like curbside pickup, senior shopping hours, easier and more flexible flight changes and virtual alternatives to traditionally in-person services or experiences. “Brands that successfully navigate the transition to the new normal will avoid a wholesale reversion and analyze current customer insights and research to evaluate which services to keep, adjust, or toss,“ Forrester said.
One-fifth of retail and consumer goods firms will compromise on customer experience. Typically, customer expectations only grow stronger, but those demands may be straining employees. The last year and a half or so has highlighted the human cost of these conveniences. Nearly 40% of U.S. consumers say concerns about companies’ labor practices influence their purchasing decisions, according to Forrester. The research company predicts that, next year, more businesses will consider their responsibility to their employees as they plan their customer experience and product offerings.
Company values will continue to be a differentiator. Brand values took center stage last summer and that will continue to be the case, but Forrester predicts that the focus will shift to environmental sustainability. By July of this year, three-fifths of Fortune 500 companies had committed to climate action, up from 32% the year prior; and just today, Microsoft announced that it aims to reduce data center water consumption by 95% by 2024.
“Brands that take a stand on more highly charged issues will cater to a small segment of hyperaware consumers with a personal connection to those values,” said Lai et al.
Why we care. Predictions can be hit or miss, and Forrester’s are no different. However, these predictions align with what many businesses have been experiencing and how consumer sentiment has changed since the start of the pandemic. While most of the predictions aren’t directly related to SEO or PPC, they may affect reviews, ad campaigns and customer loyalty, which greatly influences strategy for search marketers.
Supply chain issues have become a major factor for retailers, which may affect inventory decisions as well as ad campaigns ahead of Cyber Week. It’s no surprise that more support and transparency might prevent customers from canceling orders or going to a competitor.
Approximately 60% of U.S. and UK consumers agreed that the pandemic changed the way they shop. Having had over a year to become accustomed to services and features that convenience them while maximizing safety, it may be a shock to find that some businesses are no longer offering those services now that the pandemic is more under control. This unpleasant surprise might be reflected in reviews or churn rates as customers seek out businesses that still cater to those needs.
Whether your brand’s values and ethics are a selling point for your particular audience should be considered before making those values part of your marketing. Consumers may resonate with this kind of messaging, which might boost loyalty, but they’ll ultimately hold you accountable for your values and living up to that is almost certain to take up resources that could have been allotted elsewhere.