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CX is Getting More Complex. Are You Ready?

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Anyone who says it is easy to measure, manage, and design great experiences for customers has never really been in charge of CX. It’s a tough job! It’s difficult to understand what customers really want. It’s hard to design an optimal solution. And even if you can do all that, it’s a big challenge to get buy-in and alignment from everyone in the organization to make it all work. These are just a few of the mounting obstacles for today’s customer experience leaders. Here’s more news: It’s not going to get any easier.

Expectations are rapidly increasing. Customers expect you to know who they are, understand their preferences, and anticipate their needs. It’s no longer about simply constructing well-crafted surveys and reporting the results. Customers are demanding more, and customer experience leaders have an increasing list of skills they need to incorporate to meet these rising demands.

Eight CX trends

At a recent CX conference, I conducted some informal research that confirmed the rising complexity of CX. My colleagues and I invited approximately 50 CX professionals to consider eight trends that we see as highly relevant to today’s organizations. We provided a brief definition of each one and asked each contributor to select the top three that were most relevant to their organization. We added up the scores and here’s a breakdown of the results in rank order:

  1. Seamless: Minimizing handoffs to provide an ideal, unified experience for customers.
  2. Digital CX: Attaining the ideal human-digital balance for serving your customers.
  3. Data integration: Integration and accessibility of all customer data sources to understand customer needs and guide company actions.
  4. Personalization: Designing and delivering a holistic experience, tailored for each customer.
  5. Employee enablement: Providing necessary training, resources, and systems so employees can deliver ideal customer experiences.
  6. Adaptability: Your organization’s ability to quickly adjust to shifting environments and customer needs.
  7. Predictive: Use of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and other tools to anticipate customer needs and actions.
  8. Speed: Increasing operational efficiency to deliver experiences at the pace customers demand.

Watching people make their selections and listening to their comments prompted a couple of interesting observations. First, I was curious to see if participants would quickly gravitate to particular topics. In reality, however, all the topics received quite a few votes and most participants had a very difficult time selecting their top three choices. Second, I anticipated energetic debate about the topics chosen and other topics we might have overlooked. But there was very little of that. While these topics were selected primarily on our gut feel of CX trends, we received solid validation that these are all emerging, relevant topics for CX leaders.  

I also sensed a little anxiety from our participants who reviewed these topics and recognized the challenges that lie ahead for them. For these participants—and for me—it’s clear CX is getting more complex.

New Challenges, New Solutions

New challenges tend to have a way of prompting new solutions. Consider the platforms that combine unstructured feedback, purchase history, operational data, and much more, all in a single system. Think about the analytic tools that now make it possible to anticipate customer issues more accurately than ever. And consider the systems creating intelligent workflows to inform the right people to take the right action at the right time. All this progress can be a little overwhelming. Even so, technology firms are developing partner networks that include consulting and advisory firms. These companies are there to assist CX leaders in putting all the right tools to work. It’s exciting to see the resources now available to help us better understand our customers and deliver great experiences.

The Possibilities for CX Leaders (and Customers!)

So far we’ve elaborated on the numerous challenges facing CX leaders. Yet every challenge is an opportunity, and the reality is that it’s never been a better time to be a CX leader. Here are a few pieces of advice for CX leaders seeking to grasp the current opportunities.

  • Consider the eight trends. Identify those most relevant to your organization and determine a few simple steps to address them.
  • Review the technology landscape. Study the new tools that are available and consider which may be useful to your organization.
  • Engage with other CX leaders. Attend a conference. Join the industry association (cxpa.org). Find ways to learn and share with others.

Yes, the profession has gotten more complex. But those that embrace these complexities will discover what’s possible for themselves and the customers they serve.

Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker, a leading experience management services firm. He leads marketing and experience management programs and can be reached at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com.

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