Top 10 customer experience predictions for 2017
Customer experience (CX) has become a key differentiator for today’s top brands with everyone rushing to advance their programs. However, it isn’t always easy to know where to spend time and effort for maximum results.
Luke Williams, Head of CX at Qualtrics said, “The world of CX is constantly changing and evolving. To be ahead of the game, it is important for organisations to be aware of all the factors that influence change so that they can anticipate their customer’s needs.”
Qualtrics has identified 10 CX trends 2017 that organisations need to watch out for.
1. As customer expectations accelerate, companies will struggle to keep up.
Owing to advances in customer experience awareness, customers will max-out their expectations on how a company should deliver experiences, betraying the lack of uniform customer experience management and innovation in the market. Companies must be always on and correct: omnichannel, customised, rapid, easy, “know me” but yet private, everyday customer expectations are immense.
2. Service failures will increasingly require abundant recovery.
Expectations will rise around a firm's ability to detect dissatisfaction and then recover customer loyalty with speed and overwhelming love. Customers are now fully sensing the power of word of mouth - and the potential to grow consensus at a magnitude - and getting companies to react to their issues. Companies will need to pre-empt with passion, empathy and excel through service delivery.
3. CX visionaries innovate inimitably.
Amazon Go, if successful, could establish a benchmark that’s unachievable for most. However, customers will sense that every other retailer could do more to create high-quality, effortless experiences simply by prioritising their importance.
4. Beginning of the end for data-gazing.
This year, there will be more activity around the data collected and turning that data into action. Dashboards will be reduced to only the most critical components. A growing cohort of firms will become bored with tracking KPI and focus on business outcomes, turning KPIs and research into business plans and reaction playbooks.
5. The eternal question unanswered: Who owns the customer?
Firms will continue their struggle in defining the difference between a CCO (Chief Commercial Officer), a CXO (Chief Experience Officer) and a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), where they overlap and where gaps exist.
6. Companies continue CX efficiency push.
Firms will spend more money on technology to provide their ongoing research, dashboards, analytics and integrations. Costs on human consulting will focus more on subject matter expertise. The positive savings will be spent on transformation activities or captured as cost-savings.
7. Emotion, financial ROI join NPS as program KPIs.
A growing need to “round out” the view of the customer will be enabled by improvements in emotion detection and survey-based ROI model sciences.
8. Data strategy becomes paramount, remains elusive.
Data strategy can be as important as the data you collect. The prediction, however, is that companies will fail doing it themselves and will be forced to hire talent or consulting architects to make retroactive upgrades.
9. Python grows as the “It” language.
SAS programmers are safe for the moment, but many will bypass R and go straight to Python. Large scale licenses for older stats packages will decline as routine activities (regression-based driver analyses, segmentation) are pushed to faster, out-of-the-box solutions and as part of data dashboards.
10. A.I. continues its upswing.
The continued development of AI solutions will begin to allow increasing identification and analysis for photos, videos, voice analytics, text analytics and anomaly detection. Applications such as service bots will continue to rise. Time-to-value on related research tool decreases and real-time analytics will start to become more available for those with budgets to invest. The space will be ripe for the low-cost disruptor. Early beneficiaries will be CPG, Retail, Hospitality, Travel, Leisure and academic researchers.
Luke Williams, said, “All of the above trends are happening. However, we’re seeing a lot of organisations playing perpetual catch-up.
“The CX team must move quickly to be effective, but chances are they are still focusing on 2016 resolutions: optimising the website, activating social listening, connecting the dots between customer sentiment and customer behaviour. These teams are already behind and need to get moving. Action, change and momentum are key to successful CX programs.”
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here