Here we go, beginning of 2020 and a whole new decade. It is essential to reflect where we have been and where we want to go at this time of year. With that in mind, I have some predictions for the trends in Customer Experience for 2020 and beyond.
I discussed these predictions on a recent podcast. However, it isn’t just predictions. I also shared the research I undertook in the last quarter of 2019 to position my global Customer Experience consultancy in the marketplace.
Customer Experience has matured. In 2002, when I started Beyond Philosophy, Customer Experience was an area that was only forming. It was quite a gamble to take it on since nobody was talking about it then. However, 17 years later, far more than my consultancy is talking about it.
Ideas also get trendy. It contributes to the bandwagon effect, and a lot of people have jumped on to the Customer Experience bandwagon. Some of the people who came to us for help only did so because other people were doing it.
In January 2019, two reports struck me, one from Nunwood and one from Forrester. Both said Customer Experience had stagnated despite all efforts and resources invested into it. Customer Experience was not showing the expected returns. It was quite an indictment of my field.
However, it also leads me to my first prediction:
PREDICTION #1: THE C-SUITE TEAM WILL SEE THIS AS THE YEAR THAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MUST PRODUCE RETURNS, OR IT WILL GET CUT.
It’s time to evaluate whether the investment in time, headcount, and resources is worthwhile. Many senior managers believe that we’ve given Customer Experience a fair crack of the whip.
One problem with this is that many organizations do not track their results in the right way. If I look at some of the results from the research that we have done from Customer Experience teams that have been in place for some time, you don’t see the results in hard numbers.
However, a more prevalent problem with producing hard-number results is in a misunderstanding of what Customer Experience needs to succeed. When you take on Customer Experience, you have to think about your business differently than you have in the past. What’s happening in many organizations is that they are doing the same things and getting the same results. The definition of madness is doing the same things and expecting different results.
When you approach Customer Experience with the same tactics you were using before you adopted a Customer Experience focus, you won’t get the results of which improving the experience is capable. It will not provide the growth that the Board wants. Then, senior management cannot justify the focus that they’re putting on Customer Experience as a result.
In some cases, organizations thought forming a Customer Experience team was the solution to the Customer Experience problem. However, it is only the first step in a broader cultural change. Once your culture embraces the concepts, the Customer Experience team brings into the organization, the shift in culture produces the results that senior management wants.
Also, many organizations do not understand the level of commitment it takes to undertake this change. These changes take time, too, because they are different ways of thinking about the business and the way you interpret success.
However, the rubber is still hitting the road, and the CEOs and the C-suite need results. If they don’t get them, then they will move on to something else that does. This fact leads to my next prediction.
PREDICTION #2: ABOVE ALL ELSE, ORGANIZATIONS WANT GROWTH.
One thing we saw in the research we undertook for Beyond Philosophy was that the number one thing that organizations are focusing on is growth. The number two thing was customer retention.
My interpretation of that finding is that organizations don’t just improve Customer Experience for a laugh; they do it for growth. However, retention is essential, too. If you get a lot of new customers but lose a bunch of old ones, then you won’t increase your market share.
PREDICTION #3: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL HAVE A MASSIVE IMPACT ON CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE SOON.
You already see artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of surprisingly engaging chatbots. Soon, I see that AI could be used to predict and create a proactive experience for people. In 2020, we are going to see continued development in these areas.
PREDICTION #4: MEASUREMENT WILL BECOME A HIGHER PRIORITY FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROFESSIONALS.
I’m a member of the CXPA, which is the Customer Experience Professional Association. In the discussion form, most conversations lean toward measurement.
My perception is measurement is taking center stage because people need to show results. As people realize that being on the Customer Experience team is more than a title change, they recognize they need to measure their results—or suffer the consequences.
However, the problem lies in the fact that they measure Customer Experience only. It isn’t the right thing to do. You do need to measure it, but you also need to make the changes and focus your energy on the process of change. So yes, measure, but also…do the job.
PREDICTION #5: PEOPLE WANT TO UNDERSTAND HOW CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WORKS AND WHAT DRIVES THE OUTCOMES FOR IT.
This last one makes me happy and is the most positive. We learned in our surveys that the majority of our participants wanted to understand customer behavior and how to recognize loyalty behavior.
A focus on theory is helpful. You can read the results and then beat some heads and shout, “This score should be better!” However, if we want to develop a strategy for making things better, you need theory. You need to understand why people are having experiences that they are. You should follow the fundamentals of human behavior.
The late, great Yogi Berra once said, “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” However, one thing I think is crystal clear: next year, 2020, will be the year where people will ask whether Customer Experience is getting results or not. There are competing demands for those resources.
So, are you? Is all of this time and effort worth it?
It is up to you to show that it is and that requires looking at the world of business and customers differently. You should understand the world from a behavioral perspective.
Now let’s get to work, shall we?
To hear more about my startling predictions for 2020 in more detail, listen to the complete podcast here.
What customers say they want and what they really want are often different things. It is vital to know what drives value for your organization. Our Emotional Signature research can tell you where you are compared to other organizations and what to focus on to drive value for your customers. To learn more, please click here.
Hear the rest of the conversation on My Startling Predictions about Customer Experience for 2020 on The Intuitive Customer Podcast. These informative podcasts are designed to expand on the psychological ideas behind understanding customer behavior. To listen in, please click here.
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of six bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX