The Future of Customer Experience


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I’m blogging again today (note: I wrote this yesterday but didn’t get a chance to publish it) from the Customer Experience Professionals Insight Exchange in beautiful San Diego, CA. The event takes place at the Hotel del Coronado, and if you’ve never been, it’s a wonderful venue. Before you arrive at the hotel, you’ll fall in love with the amazing view as you cross the bridge to get onto Coronado Island! The hotel, which sits on the beach, is quirky (slanted rooms and stairs to nowhere – be sure to ask the staff about the history of the hotel) and romantic at the same time.

Today’s blog assignment is to capture the essence of the day’s keynote by CXPA Co-Founder and (former) Chair, Bruce Temkin. I note that he’s a former Chair because, just yesterday (Tuesday), he stepped down (his term ended) and passed the baton to Karyn Furstman. Bruce’s keynote is titled, The Future of Customer Experience. Here’s a synopsis of his presentation.

Where is customer experience on its maturity path and where is it heading? CXPA Chairman and customer experience visionary Bruce Temkin will share some of his research on the future of customer experience, and engage attendees through an interactive session on the topic.

On to the highlights…

Bruce started off his presentation with answering: What is customer experience? He defined it with three attributes:

  1. Success: the degree to which customers can accomplish their goals
  2. Effort: the difficulty or ease of accomplishing those goals
  3. Emotion: how the interaction makes customers feel

The problem today is that most organizations focus on success and not so much on the others. Which begs the question: How great will the experience really be if our focus is on only a third of what comprises a customer’s experience? Companies must understand, track, and design for success, effort, and emotion.

How are companies doing? You can find out by checking out the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings, which are available free on In a nutshell, most companies are mediocre at customer experience. As a customer experience professional, this means a lot of job security!

This was the first year that Bruce saw drops in scores. He offered up two reasons, one of which is the real answer.

  1. Companies are getting worse and are looking at customers and the experience less than before.
  2. Customer are more aware of experiences and are raising the bar, raising standards; companies aren’t keeping up with customer expectations.

Yea… #2.

Companies need to step it up and accelerate improvements to keep up with, or get ahead of, expectations. They can’t keep doing the same things or using the same tools.

Bruce then spelled out five key customer experience trends.

1. Anticipatory Experiences
Your customers are on a journey, so help them. If we know customers are on a journey, we need to move with – and ahead of – them to keep up with and on track with their expectations. He gave the example of when a USAA member calls to submit a change of address. Since their members are military, they know that this address change likely comes with a larger life change, as well. So agents ask members other questions to determine an appropriate solution and experience for them. They might ask during that call if the member is going on active duty. If so, then why should he/she pay insurance for a car they won’t be driving while overseas. They ask members other questions, too, with the general goal of helping them through life: do you have life insurance? do you want to put your insurance on hold? have you executed a power of attorney? etc. USAA’s mission is all about financial security for the member and his/her family. Why do they do this? “Because sometimes an address change is more than an address change.”

2. Mobile First
Bruce shared a graphic of how we think of mobile today versus mobile first thinking.

Today –> Mobile First
enable mobile –> design for mobile
isolated mobile –> integrated mobile
process extension –> process redesign

We must design processes and the customer experience as if there’s always a mobile device in hand.

3. Value as a Service
People will get access to products and capabilities as they need them. Examples he gave: Uber, Airbnb, Zipcar, elance, and TaskRabbit.

4. Continuous Insights
Customers interact with us continuously. Business operate continuously. The environment constantly changes. But… we survey them once a year or once in a while.

“The notion of annual planning is a joke.”

We need to ensure we have: the right insights at the right time in the right format. A more fundamental way to make improvements is to get the facts into the hands of the people who need them – at the right time. It’s time to drive businesses to be more adaptive because they (should) evolve based on what we hear every day.

5. Power of Culture
Bruce wholeheartedly agrees with this Peter Drucker quote: Culture eats strategy for lunch.

Culture squelches anything that tries to upset it, like antibodies when a foreign object appears.

Herb Kelleher said:

If you create an environment where people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. We’re not looking for blind obedience. We’re looking for people who on their own initiative want to be doing what they’re doing because they consider it to be a worthy objective. I have always believed that the best leader is the best server. And if you’re a servant, by definition you’re not controlling.

Leadership tends to operate on a command-and-control mindset, and this is a big issue. Herb Kelleher said he never had control, and he never wanted it. That command-and-control mindset just leads to answering every problem with more processes and more control.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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