A Bold Customer Experience Prediction

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It’s that time again, when all the management gurus come out with their customer experience predictions for the coming year.

So what customer experience trends do the gurus foresee in 2019?  What do they predict organizations will focus on?  Here’s a sampling of their ideas, culled from some recently released prediction lists:

  • Companies will create more customer-centric cultures, using new recognition systems and training programs.
  • Companies will use technology to digitally transform the customer experience.
  • Companies will go the extra mile by empowering their employees to surprise and delight.
  • Companies will use Robotic Process Automation to speed customer transactions.
  • Companies will leverage AI to automate customer interactions without making them feel mechanical.
  • Companies will break down silos and align customer experience strategies across functional domains.
  • Companies will use predictive analytics to create more personalized customer experience.
  • Companies will overhaul their voice-of-the-customer programs, relying more on text analytics of unstructured content, such as survey comments, call center recordings, social media conversations, and online chat sessions.

It all sounds like wishful thinking to me – or perhaps just some firms trying to promote their products and services under the guise of supposed customer experience predictions.

Call me a cynic, but here’s my bold customer experience prediction for most companies in the coming year:  Not much will change.

  • Most organizations will lumber along, spinning their wheels on this topic, discussing it endlessly, executing on minor improvements that amount to window dressing, just so someone can “check the box” on their next performance review.
  • Most organizations will continue their navel-gazing, focusing inward on organizational changes, role shifts, political infighting and silo strife.
  • Most organizations will lose whatever little momentum they may have gained around customer experience improvement, as top executives with Organizational Attention Deficit Disorder spot some shiny new object that becomes the next initiative du jour.

Forgive my pessimism, folks, but most organizations are unremarkable, and are destined to stay that way.  That’s precisely why, when a company actually does break from the pack and deliver a differentiated experience, it turns heads.

So, rather than obsess over what everyone else will be doing (or what the gurus say everyone else will be doing), focus instead on what your company can do to avoid the fate of mediocrity.

Think about how to send a clear, unmistakable signal to the marketplace — and your workplace — that something fundamental is changing.

A signal that you’re no longer going to do it “like we’ve always done.”

A signal that you’re disrupting the status quo in your industry.

A signal that you’re liberating consumers from long-simmering frustrations.

A signal that you’re dispensing with the typical customer experience platitudes, in favor of very tangible and compelling changes that make a difference in the lives of your customers and the employees who serve them.

If, at the end of 2019, you don’t want to be among the many companies that validate my bold prediction, well then…  go do something bold!

5 COMMENTS

  1. As much as I hate to admit it – I think you are spot on with our thoughts and predictions! I recently left a company that completed a “transformation” around client success but it was basically “lipstick on a pig”. No significant changes, no new technology to help and no true change that would impact the client experience. I am with an organization now that is saying the right things and recognizes the issue – so my challenge now – show them how true change will significantly impact revenue!

  2. Agree with your observations……but, that said, they would have been just as valid for 2016, 2017, and 2018, The everyday reality is that vast majority of enterprises prioritize comfort over disruption, safety and status quo over innovation and strategic differentiation. Note: Those that dive into the deep end of the value delivery pool are Firms of Endearment and Conscious Capitalists. As a result, for the rest, little of lasting change and value takes place in the culture or operations, or for customers or employees.

  3. An enjoyable read. I would have liked to see which gurus you culled from. Your article alerts readers to the wisdom of stepping outside the bounds of current practice. That, however, will take courageous leadership and few are really bold enough to depart from the status quo.

  4. Jon: in industries where there is a dominant provider, I share your frustration. It seems many companies begin with an innovation, and as they mature, their strategy changes. To preserve capital, reduce costs, and accelerate profits, they move to protect their market share, and defend their innovations with highly restrictive patents, along with enacting onerous supplier and customer contracts. Customer satisfaction suffers along with innovation as there are fewer companies providing competing products, and even fewer interested in jumping into markets where they are heavily outgunned. Diminished product and service innovations within the industry are the natural result. No epiphany here. Microsoft has long been the poster child for this phenomenon. The risks of damage to consumers and innovation have long been used as rationale for governments to break up monopolies.

    In industries where there is more intense competition and more options for customers, I disagree with your observations – though I can relate to your impatience for progress. In markets where there is stiffer competition, I believe there is more congruence between what customers want, desire, and need, and the extent to which companies innovate, and more specifically, what they innovate. And though it’s rare for me to say this, I think, in effect, here the market takes care of itself: we should expect to see about as much CX and product innovation as customers demand.

  5. Hi Jon,

    I agree with you that “Not much will change”, but for a different reason.

    When CX initiatives don’t deliver, CEOs reduce their support. It’s a vicious circle. Since CX practitioners should fully recognize that “connecting CX with business results” is the key to gaining buy-in from CEOs, why has ‘the disconnect’ prevailed for years even to this day?

    CXPA’s co-founder Jeanne Bliss said, “CX is a company’s delivery of its brand promise.” I couldn’t agree more as it makes perfect sense. When a brand delivers its promise, it drives business results – first-time purchase, repeat purchase and referral.

    Obviously, there are strong ties between brand promises and business drivers. For instance, the No.1 repeat purchase drivers of IKEA and Louis Vuitton are ‘product pricing’ and ‘exclusive feel for wearing/owning LV products’ respectively.

    Notwithstanding that both brand promises and business drivers include ‘pricing’ and ‘product’, not just ‘service’, numerous CX professionals are overwhelmingly focusing on “Serve Customers Better” irrespective of what the brand promises are and what drive business results.

    Forrester’s research director Harley Manning remarked, “CX transformations are massive, take years, and cost millions.” Even with ‘service’ as the brand promise, most ordinary brands are not equipped for a CX transformation – the full-scale “Serve Customers Better” approach.

    When the majority of industry players continue to put forward the full-scale “Serve Customers Better” approach to all companies with different kinds of CX challenges, it’s no wonder that the disconnect between CX and business results will continue and most CEOs still won’t buy into CX in 2019.

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