The Future of CX: Five Customer Experience Trends for 2020 and Beyond

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What Does the Future of CX Look Like?

It’s crystal ball time!

If you know how critical Customer Experience is to the happiness of your customers and your team (and if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you are,) you’re probably already trying to anticipate the next big trends in CX.

What sort of predictions can we make to better prepare for the future of Customer Experience in 2020 and beyond?

I want to answer that… in a moment.

But first, let’s talk about what won’t change in the world of CX — not in 2020, nor the foreseeable longer-term future.

Things That Won’t Change Anytime Soon:

1. Customer Experience Still Reigns Supreme

More customers are stating that customer experience is a big part of how they make purchasing decisions. This means more of us are demanding better treatment and are willing to pay for it.

pwc study of CX for 2020 and beyond
via PWC.

According to a large study by PWC, 73% of us say the customer experience is an important factor.

68% of business-to-business marketers agree that delivering a consistent, high-quality customer experience is very important in today’s marketplace.

Despite this, only 49% of U.S. consumers say they’re getting a good Customer Experience from companies.

These numbers will keep going up, meaning that if you aren’t on board the CX train by now, you are already behind your competition.

But don’t fret — Instead, think of closing the CX gap as a huge opportunity. If your organization can address and close the gap, you’ll have a massive advantage in the future.



But the time to start is now.

2. Employee Experience Will Remain One of the Top Influences on Customer Experience

There is no doubt the way employees feel influences how they treat customers.

But this isn’t just touchy-feely stuff. Engaged employees are in demand, and frankly getting harder to keep.

Investing in employees can pay off in big ways, like how Google gives employees 20% of their time to dedicate to their own projects. These independent, employee-driven ideas have created products like Google Maps and Gmail!

So it’s not terribly surprising to learn that the organizations who earned “good” or “very good” employee engagement ratings in the State of CX Management 2018 report by the Temkin Group (now part of the XM Institute) are also much more likely to be ranked as CX Leaders.

In fact, the percentage of CX Leaders who earned “good” or “very good” employee engagement ratings is more than 5-times larger than the percentage of CX Laggards.

Your employees matter more than most pieces of the customer experience puzzle. Don’t expect this to change in 2020 or the future beyond it.

So… What Changes Will Come to CX in 2020?

1. Customer Experience Will Become Part of the Business Operations in More Organizations… But it Will Continue to be an Unpredictable Journey.

More organizations are understanding the importance of customer experience, but they are still struggling with what to do about it.

Some are assigning CX as an additional responsibility to leaders like Chief Marketing Officers or Retail Operations leaders. Some are just asking everyone in the organization to “own” customer experience.

We need to mature past these ways to really start operationalizing CX in our organizations.

This means creating a dynamic loop of gathering customer feedback, assigning real responsibilities and treating CX like we treat sales, marketing or technology.

It’s not an extra part of doing business, it’s simply a part of doing business well.

More organizations will move to this phase in the coming years, but we still have a long way to go!

2.  Agile principles will be brought to CX Innovation

As we (hopefully) move into an era when we’re responding to customer feedback and allowing for more innovation around experience design, we’ll need to act a lot faster than we are today. Organizations that prioritize quick improvements using agile principles will move to the head of the pack.

While agile is typically used among development teams, these same principles to harness change on behalf of customers can be used to innovate around CX.

It’s not just about the technology, it’s about innovation for things like in-store experience and better customer communications.

3. Technology WILL replace some roles in customer service and other departments. New roles will be created.

It’s true that the robots are coming for (some) of our jobs.

future of cx chatbots statistics

Automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will drive real, lasting changes to the contact center structure and overall org charts of many brands. Already, chatbots and other tools are serving customers in big and small ways.

The latest prediction is a 136% increase in the number of organizations that use AI chatbots from 2019 to 2020!

While this can sound frightening, the role of these technologies will actually help customer service agents and others to provide better experiences for customers.

When leveraged well, this means human agents will have customer histories and relevant data served at the appropriate time. The agent can then provide more personalized, relevant experiences in a faster, more convenient way to customers.

It’s critical to provide a seamless transfer between human agent and bot as we learn just what this type of technology can do best. Now we need a different type of role for some of these agents. We need humans to train and supervise the automated experiences these bots are creating.

We can’t think we’ll simply “flip the switch” and replace our human agent force. Humans are still required to connect with customers when they need us the most. Humans are also the only way these tools will be developed and designed in ways that truly put the customer first.

4. Customers will not tolerate outdated technology, processes or communications.

Customers understand so much more than they ever did.

Because we all have access to so much more information now, brands can no longer hide behind press releases or advertising.

As customers, we want brands to respond not just to our needs, but the needs of the world around us. Outdated technology is a signal to customers that the overall experience might not be a priority. Watching employees struggle with processes that don’t make sense is a point of frustration for customers.

Digitally-native brands like Uber, AirBnB and esurance are providing seamless experiences, and the result is that more customers are learning simply not to tolerate the old school brands with legacy systems and antiquated processes.



Communications with customers also have to not only be seamless, but updated in their language and tone.

Customers don’t want to interact with formal, stuffy brands using industry-specific terms and acronyms. They want to be in conversation with them.

This means reducing the jargon and replying as a human does. It also means reviewing your communications for outdated terms around our shared humanity, with terms referring to gender, race, and ability given particular care.

5. Soft skills will stop being seen as a nice to have and become the important “Empathy Toolkit” we need in CX.

Let’s make 2020 the year we kill the term “soft skills” in business. This vague description of ideas like getting along with others and listening doesn’t serve us or our customers.

These soft skills – listening well, responding with empathy and understanding, proactively reading the emotional state of a person or situation – are absolutely critical to great customer experiences.

And let’s not forget this applies inside the organization, too. Engaged employees not only serve their customers with this respect and compassion but also serve their colleagues and partners this way, too.

Using the term “soft skills” make them sound secondary and unnecessary. CX Leaders in the future will prioritize them and give them the respect they deserve to hire, train and empower employees.

What Are Your Predictions for Customer Experience in 2020?

My crystal ball has a few more wisps of smoke swirling around in there, and I’m sure there are other predictions and ideas of the future you are considering as you plan for 2020 and beyond.

I have faith customer experience will continue to grow and change and evolve, along with the leaders in the industry. And aren’t we lucky that so many of us will still be there?

What are you seeing? What do you think the future will bring? Let me know!

4 COMMENTS

  1. Taking all the CX trends and evolving customer requirements (user friendly technology, more relationship-building, customer-focused value and support processes, etc) into account, I’m particularly concerned with the value delivery role and contribution of employees. That said, my perception is that what keeps most organizations from moving ahead with employees, including employee retention and continuity, is traditional, HR-driven and antecedent thinking about engagement (fit, alignment, and productivity) . Engagement, though it has tangential impact on customers, only minimally addresses a) employee experience and b) employees as key enterprise stakeholders. https://www.mktginsight.com/customer-and-employee-engagement

    At truly stakeholder-centric organizations have come to understand, it is putting employees at the center of cultural DNA, plus employee enablement, empowerment and commitment to the company, its product and service value proposition, its customers, and to fellow employees that drives and sustains superior CX. Here’s an example, from one of my CustomerThink posts: https://beyondphilosophy.com/great-ex-employee-ambassadorship-cx-customer-advocacy-story-southwest-airlines-rep-passenger-cancer/

  2. Great post with thoughtful insights, Jeannie. I always enjoy your reporter style of presenting. One more I would add. I am seeing B2B companies finally beginning to recognize that a superior customer experience means more that quantitative customer service features. I recently interviewed a manufacturing company rep who was changing suppliers. His rationale for dropping a supplier he had used for years? “Their quality it great, they are fairly priced, always accurate, on time and with zero defects. But, talk with them on the phone and they are holy hell to deal with.” We don’t applaud the airline we are traveling on for safely landing on time in the right city–all very important service quality metrics; we pick one airline over another based on a qualitative assessment that includes how we are treated.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Jeannie! There are so many great points there!
    As someone who works in the Conversational AI, I think that brands will increasingly rely on conversational interfaces to communicate with their customers. Of course, conversational apps are never a stand-alone customer-interaction channel, rather one of the channels that people choose, depending on what’s best for them at a definite moment. So, here are the trends that will dominate Conversational User Experience:

    1) Personalization
    McKinsey and Company have found out that personalization at scale has the potential to create $1.7 trillion to $3 trillion in the new value. This comes as no surprise, as people today (myself included) expect a customized offering tailored just for them. To make sure that customers get truly want unique, personalized experiences, companies will rely on AI to use unstructured customer data and provide recommendations.

    2) Self-service and automation
    There’s another thing that today’s customers dislike more than having to browse your company’s website searching for what they need. It’s having to wait for a contact center agent to respond. I strongly believe that everything that can be automated will be. Also, customers need to have a choice – when and how they want to get your services. Your task is to see every step of the customers’ journey and make sure that your agents – whether virtual or human – are always there to help.

    3) Channel agnosticism
    Today, customer communication channels are no longer reduced to phone, mobile, and web: people can reach companies via webchats and messenger apps, via voice or text, on the phone and a smart speaker in a car – and pretty much any other smart device. So, companies need to ensure their customers can reach them even moving from one device to another or between communication channels. And when they do so without even noticing, it means you deliver a truly seamless customer experience.

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