Here are my four predictions for Customer Experience in 2019.
Prediction #1: The fever of effortless experience will reach new heights
Ignited by the rise of Generation Z with its zero-tolerance of wait time and the ‘expectation transfer’ incited by the ‘Amazon Effect’, the fever of effortless experience will reach its peak since the launch of Customer Effort Score in 2010. Most business executives will try to eliminate customer efforts at ‘all’ touchpoints.
A few wise leaders will go against the tide by allowing good efforts to create notable branded pleasures. They understand that unless their brand promises are about ‘fast and easy’, striving for an effortless experience at ‘critical’ touchpoints would drive a forgettable experience, devastate brand loyalty and decrease customers’ pleasure.
Prediction #2: The CX industry will begin to shift from expert-led to vendor-led
Since the start of CX development around the year 2000, its trend has largely been shaped by the opinions of CX experts: ranging from needlessly wowing the customer, pointlessly exceeding customer expectations, to sensibly delivering brand promises. Unlike during the CRM age, the giant tech vendors have remained inactive in CX until now.
The recent $8 billion acquisition of Qualtrics will help SAP integrate ERP, CRM with EFM/VoC to offer an end-to-end solution to enterprises. CX will enter a new era in 2019 if other tech giants follow in SAP’s footsteps and start to orchestrate the ‘CX play’ behind the scene: the momentum of CX will be shifting from ‘service’ to technology.
Prediction #3: A considerable number of CX professionals will become redundant
With the application of technologies in CX gradually maturing and the conventional “Serve Customers Better” approach persistently failing to perform, pragmatic CEOs will switch their support to digitization projects for improving customer experience. Thus, the skill set requirements of CX practitioners are going to change from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’.
The positioning of in-house CX professionals will be awkward: the data-obsessed marketers have an absolute advantage in managing digitization projects, ‘pure’ service is within the realm of CS, and merely knowing how to draw customer journey maps isn’t sufficient to secure their jobs. Yet, for those CX folks who can upgrade their role and capabilities from functional to strategic will have a good chance to survive and thrive.
Prediction #4: The conventional approach will not improve Customer Experience
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.
To truly improve Customer Experience, insightful CX practitioners will give up Conventional CX and take up Real CX.