A whole new year for customer relationships: 2022 predictions

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Author photo: Carrie Shaw

Carrie Shaw

Chief Marketing Officer

2022 is here, and we’ve got some hot takes for you to bring into the new year.

The way we work evolved a lot in 2021, and with one workforce shift after another, we were forced to rethink the way we did business ... a lot.

If we've learned anything, it's that the reality that was born in 2020 is far from over (looking at you, Omicron). So, when it comes to making 2022 business predictions, the main thing we know is that we may be able to anticipate more trying times ahead.

The good news? We're all pretty much experts at persevering at this point.

Like our research in 2021 showed us, relationships are crucial in business — especially now that we're facing things like the Great Resignation, supply chain disruptions and new digital working environments.

Nurturing your long-term relationships, conducting business authentically and with humanity, and focusing on warm relationships over cold leads will continue to reign as we endure and evolve in 2022.

Here’s a handful of our conjectures for next year:

10 of our top 2022 business predictions

We've spoken to experts, surveyed our customers, and sourced industry reports and publications to find the most significant sales trends for 2022 and customer experience trends for 2022 to imagine what the next 12 months may hold.

1. More attentive customer relationship building.

70% of companies invested more in professional relationship building in 2021, and we expect to see this emphasis on relationships continue into 2022. But relationship building is becoming a non-negotiable versus a differentiator, so companies will have to adapt their strategies to give consumers what they want.

With economic uncertainty permeating the indefinite future, consumers and businesses are more scrupulous about where they spend their money. Companies will have to be attentive and intentional to woo and retain their customers in 2022.

2. Authenticity will matter, even more.

As Gen Z enters adulthood, the emphasis on ethical companies, business practices and products continues to grow. More and more people are choosing to spend their money with companies that have clear missions and values.

Meaningful interactions become the chosen mode of operating — but you can’t fake intention. The repercussions for overstating your values or missions won't be forgiven, so in 2022, you'll want to be authentic about what matters to your company and talk about it openly but humbly.

3. The hustle will continue – with humanity as the necessary ingredient.

The #hustlehard and #grind cultures aren't trendy anymore. Now, it's about empathetic resilience. As a culture, we're moving away from idolizing the Silicon Valley-esque approach to working. But that doesn’t mean that your company won’t need some grit to survive.

So, in 2022 it's about finding that balance: forging ahead with heart and open communication. It's about encouraging your employees to take time off before burning out, and it's about finding a work structure that benefits everyone — not just the bottom line.

4. Hybrid work environments will become the norm.

We surveyed our customers and found that the majority of them are going to be working in a hybrid work environment in 2022. In 2020 and 2021, going completely remote for those who were able was the big move. But, as the pandemic endures and our attitudes around work continue to shift, it seems like the hybrid work model is what many businesses have chosen to pursue heading into the new year.

5. Employee well-being and a family-first attitude will be priority.

Societally, our attitudes around work are changing. The Great Resignation has shown us that employees aren't going to stay where they aren't respected or valued, where they don’t find meaning, or where risks to home life and wellbeing are too great. But our internal research found that only 9% of people are considering changing their employers, so we’re likely to see a slowdown on the mass resignation.

Still, employers will need to prioritize their employees' emotional wellness, focus on internal communication, and provide flexibility to keep their team thriving together.

6. More thoughtful inventory management

Supply chain disruptions are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. For that reason, businesses will have to rethink their inventory management strategy. This could mean strengthening their relationships with existing vendors or building bridges with new ones.

Improved communication isn't just necessary for manufacturers, though. Companies will have to increase their communication with their employees and customers to keep everyone in the loop on shipping delays and product changes.

7. A focus on automation that increases the human touch

Automation isn't a new hot topic. Businesses have been automating for years. But in 2022, we expect to see more companies automating to improve the human touch versus automating it out of the equation.

For example, automated phone lines and customer support bots aren't winning any customer experience awards. And in this time where enduring customer relationships matter, companies are looking for ways to maximize the human touch, not diminish it.

So, in 2022, there's going to be more workflow automation to eliminate manual tasks, improve conversations, and boost the human element.

8. We’ll continue to reimagine customer support.

Our ideas about customer support are shifting, too. Now, you can't wait for customers to come to you with issues. Instead, you need to provide solutions and answer needs proactively.

To achieve this goal, you may need to reevaluate your relationship-building techniques and have several points of contact within a company instead of one. You can also conduct more surveys with your customers or rethink your sales pipeline.

It all comes down to figuring out your customer needs and addressing them before they have a chance to complain, or worse, churn.

9. Social selling will win out over transactional sales.

Gone are the days of the Glengarry Glen Ross, "Wall Street bro" sales tactics. No one wants a pushy sales experience — especially in 2022. Social selling and casual, regular conversations will likely close more deals than shoving your leads into a pressure cooker.

10. The race for first-party data will speed up.

2022 marks the last year for Google’s support of third-party cookies. And while many businesses have already begun to prepare, we expect to see some companies scrambling to build and collect more first-party data this year in preparation for the death of the cookie.

Ultimately, the demise of third-party info simply makes way for more relationship building and lead nurturing, which is always a good thing in our book.

Set yourself up for a successful 2022

Survival mode and the will to survive isn’t going to slow down in 2022, but this year, humanity remains key. Relationships will continue to matter above all else, and communication will be critical.

Companies that already communicate effectively internally and externally are well poised to excel in the new year. And those who haven't gotten it down yet still have time to learn.

CRM makes communication and relationship building a lot easier, and it's an indispensable asset for many businesses. Despite this, our research shows that only 48% of SMB professionals currently use a CRM.

If you're one of those professionals who's holding out on CRM, give Copper a try. We're the relationship-centric CRM built specifically for Google Workspace.

Try Copper free for 14 days and make 2022 a year to remember.

Try Copper free

Instant activation, no credit card required. Give Copper a try today.

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