Over the past eighteen months, we’ve all been forced to adapt to a new way of living, with meetings, conferences, exercise classes and social get togethers all moving online during lockdowns and food shopping done via mobile apps as opposed to going into bricks-and-mortar stores. But although this ‘new normal’ seems to have abated somewhat for now, with life returning to some semblance of the normal we know and love, the pandemic has set in motion a dramatic leap into the digital age that can’t – and won’t – be reversed, with business owners forced to adapt quickly if they want to survive.
Although the world has been becoming more and more digitised over the past decade, recent events have served as the catalyst for a much faster propulsion towards a full-scale embrace of technological innovations, and from Michelin-starred restaurants and high-end hotels to luxury boutiques and niche travel companies, every type of business has been affected.
As consumers, we’re now demanding greater convenience and accessibility from the brands and companies we buy from – because now we’ve had a taste of it, we simply don’t want to go back. And we’re expecting the same from the businesses we work for, because the increased work/life balance we’ve had the chance to experience has been something of a revelation.
As we head into 2022, we can expect to see our favourite businesses – and our employers – adopting an increasing array of tech trends to keep us engaged and retain our loyalty.
A trend we’ve seen begin to take off in 2021, the move towards artificial intelligence has seen customer service levels skyrocket, with tasks that could previously only be done by humans taken care of on their behalf so that they’re free to deal with the bigger stuff.
Of course, it hasn’t been welcomed by everyone, and there are growing fears that one day, intelligent robots could replace humans entirely, thus leaving huge numbers of people out of work. In 2022, we can expect to see our favourite brands looking to find the perfect balance between the utilisation of people and robots to ensure that the process benefits everyone – but those that have yet to adopt some level of automation will need to move fast to keep up with those that have.
Reformed customer tracking
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increasing number of businesses look to implement cookies on their websites in order to track our online behaviour. This allows them to collate information and build personas that will enable them to market to us more effectively – but not everyone is keen. While website tracking can, for businesses, be a handy tool, it has made some internet users uncomfortable, so in 2022, we can expect to see a shift in the way that it is done.
Have you ever scrolled on your favourite designer clothing website to find the perfect party season dress, only to see the same garments you were looking at advertised to you in the side-bar of every other website you visit for the next month? Retargeting is an effective way for businesses to lure customers back onto their site to buy something they might still be undecided on – but we’re becoming increasingly concerned about our online privacy and for many of us, it doesn’t quite sit right.
To ensure that customers feel safe and secure engaging with them and continue to convert, businesses will need to be more selective about what and how they track, and avoid getting too greedy. While it might be possible to find out just about everything about a customer’s online behaviour, long-term, it could be detrimental to brands, so they will need to remember to put customer confidence first.
Video conferencing to stay
While many business owners saw video conferencing as a short-term solution to staying connected during lockdown, others, it seems, have embraced the move. Without the need for bricks-and-mortar offices, costs can be cut considerably, and greater flexibility can be offered to staff, as well as making for a more time-efficient working day.
Those who have been quick to insist upon staff returning to the workplace will need to be more flexible if they are to retain our loyalty, because now that we have had a taste of the improved work/life balance remote working can offer, we’re becoming increasingly unwilling to give it up. In 2022, archaic bosses will be forced to reconsider as remote opportunities surge, or face potentially losing their workforce.