When one year ends, another begins, bringing renewed ambition and rejuvenated vision to any given organization. Though new strategies build upon current initiatives, companies are able to wipe the slate clean, in a sense, tending to engagement techniques and marketing tactics with fresh eyes and clear minds. Each year, the customer experience grows increasingly important, and as 2014 approaches, this particular element of the customer journey has never been more vital for prolonged success.

"You can't understand customer experience in isolation," says Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group, LLC. "It's one of those things that embodies the workings of many other processes. In short, it is the end product of much work and cogitation, and if you wish to understand the future of CX, it's best to go upstream to root causes."

Companies across industries are well aware that, in today's market, customer experience stands as the primary differentiator. To remain competitive, businesses must put the customer at the center of all they do in order to cultivate loyalty and safeguard trust. But, as we look to January, certain strategic trends continue to dominate the space, indicating that businesses and brands of all types are already actively working to guarantee the best customer experience possible. Here are just four of the most prevalent trends gaining buzz today: