15 CX Experts talk about the Future and Challenges of Customer Experience in 2018 [part 2]

The future of customer experience is decided. Isn’t it?

Probably not.

We asked 15 experts with world reputation in Customer experience the same question and the results might surprise you.

Some time ago we released the first part of the interview answers, and this week guests are Lynn Hunsaker, Peter Lavers, Jane Treadwell-Hoye, Melinda Gonzalez, Matt Dixon, Vicki Amon-Higa and Raul Guillermo Amigo.

Every each of them answered the following questions:

  • How do you see the future of customer experience? 
  • What are, in your opinion, the top challenges in customer experience that companies should be aware of in 2018? 
  • How to overcome those challenges?

Now, luckily for everyone and especially the customers, more and more brands put more and more effort into developing its customer experience.

So, what should we expect in the nearest future?

More brands will (and should) bring up customer feedback to the decision-makers in the company, and with the help of some new amazing technologies we’re changing the way businesses see their customers.

Read the full answers here below.

Lynn Hunsaker, CEO and Head Customer Experience Consultant at ClearAction

@clearaction | blog

“Customers’ discernment of providers’ motives will continue to sharpen in the future. Customers are being educated about customer experience by providers and fellow customers, and as employees within provider organizations.

Top challenges for providers are (a) to be smarter than competitors about customers’ realities, (b) to rally all functional areas to improve customers’ realities, (c) to make customer-centred management a way of life.

To overcome these challenges:

  • treat customer experience excellence as a context for every job role company-wide,
  • foster true outside-in perspectives: not how can more customers recommend us, but how can we be flexible toward empowering our primary customer segment’s priorities? (which leads to more recommendations, by the way),
  • identify patterns in customer experience data from all sources to create greater insights as impetus for managers to make changes for the greater good, to motivate collaboration, and to inspire customer experience excellence as context for everything the company does,
  • facilitate collaboration across functional areas and business units to prevent silos, bridge silos, prevent recurrence of issues for the whole customer base, and create mutual value for customers (internal collaboration is the surest path to strengthening customer trust),
  • strengthen momentum of customer experience excellence as a way of life by embedding customer-focus in all company rituals (planning, reviews, capital expenditures, budgeting, succession, hiring, recognition, decision-making, handoffs, etc.)”

 

Peter Lavers, Customer Experience and CRM Expert

@PeterLavers | blog

"Customer Experience is here to stay! Companies do marketing, sales and CRM – the customer does the experience! If your business isn’t interested in CX then it’s effectively saying “we don’t care who buys our product, as long as somebody does” – this WILL find you out in today’s connected, empowered world.

One main challenge for the next year is short termism. It distresses the market, resulting in over supply and brand devaluation; it leads to bad decisions for quick sales that ultimately damage trust; it educates the customer on how to ‘beat the system’ e.g. only buy when there’s an offer; it can lead to illegal or unethical practices such as ‘pulling sales forward’ to meet targets; it rewards counter cultural behaviours and makes scorecards meaningless; and it inevitably runs out of steam because there are only so many tactics to deploy!

Short termism is mostly the result of a product-centric and “numbers focused” culture, which inevitably results in a “race to the bottom”. Customer centricity is the answer, backed with a credible customer profitability lens that gives an alternative view to traditional product sales/market share KPIs.

Another is silos – unless there’s perfect collaboration they lead to inconsistent or competing objectives, marketing, service and measurement. All too often it’s the poor customer who ends up having to stitch together the disconnects in their experience by re-keying and re-explaining their requirements or situation.

Silos is often the result of the same product-centricity as above, this needs to be fixed from board level downwards, with equal accountability and collaboration between the heads of customer, product, and omnichannel.”

 

Jane Treadwell-Hoye, CCXP and Managing Director at epifani

“The future of CX is at a cross road.  There are many organisations embracing a people-centric approach to business (be it employee engagement on CX or on developing strong CX programmes) but there remain a large number who fail to fully grasp the need for change.  Many of the traditional ways of doing business are under threat from smaller, faster, more agile disruptive businesses so organisations need to be more focused on truly understanding their customers, delivering better experiences and engaging in new ways.

The top challenges that companies should be aware of in 2018, I see are:

  • That senior leadership teams view CX as a passing fad or a short term campaign, and do not truly understand the enormous value a customer-centric approach to business brings – be it engaged employees, retained customers with increased share of wallet or new customers. 
  • That few seem to understand that CX is a long term programme of transformation that cannot be measured in 12 week quarterly financials.  Any organisation taking on a CX programme needs to recognise it’s hard work and will take time – it’s worth it and you need to celebrate the wins along the way – but there is no magic quick fix.
  • It’s too easy to overlook the employee engagement and try to deploy CX outside of an holistic organisational approach.  Your people deliver the customer experiences so organisations need to look at how to ensure everyone is brought along on the CX journey and understand the role they play in the customers’ experience.
  • It’s more than just digital.  Digital is but a channel to the customer but a truly customer-centric approach embraces the customer at all touch points in the journey.
  • It’s not about software or a number – if you focus only on the NPS score you will never deliver the game-changing customer experience.

How to overcome those challenges? 

  • Recognise your business is about the customer and not you. Listen more, understand their pain points, validate ideas and co-create with your customers.
  • Be prepared to pilot new things – try, fail and learn fast before trying again.
  • It starts inside the business - communicate, communicate, communicate and educate, educate, educate. Get everyone to see their role through the customer’s lens.
  • Celebrate small successes and share stories.  Become better story tellers – we are after all, people dealing with people.”

 

Melinda Gonzalez, CEO at Melinda Gonzalez Advisors, CX Consultant

@RealMelindaG | blog

“I see the future of CX as bright, vast, and continuously evolving. Technology advances will continue to inspire new innovations in customer experience. But, most companies will still continue to struggle with CX fundamentals.

CX is a tough business. It requires patience and the ability to maintain a “long view” on business results, especially in solving larger systemic issues. It will continue to be challenging for CX advocates to get meaningful organizational and executive support if customer centricity isn’t already a part of the value system.

Ensure strong C-suite investment & buy in (exhausting as it can be). Customer experience starts with a strong customer-centric culture, and that tone is set from the top. Assess the business to identify the people, process, & technology/infrastructure blockers. Is customer centricity already part of the company DNA and culture? Are there efficient processes in place for analyzing customer data or communicating customer insights? Is the ecosystem of customer engagement tools and technologies integrated and seamless, or are they siloed? Always leverage quick wins wherever possible, but a strong operational framework for CX management is critical to long term success.

Also, new tech solutions such as AI and machine learning have been getting a lot of attention. And why not? They have many great CX applications, and it’s always exciting to work on cutting edge solutions! But if not applied within a strong operational CX framework, technology can distract and actually move leadership and employees farther away from understand customer emotions, motivations, and expectations. 

Customer engagement technologies should be introduced once an operational model for managing the customer experience has been established and embraced. If the basic program investments aren’t in place, tech solutions will only be a hindrance. What are CX program basics? Understand customer needs, measure the right things, identify root cause of challenges and opportunities to improve, and, most importantly, take action!"

 

Matt Dixon, Keynote Speaker and Author, Global Head of Sales Force Effectiveness Solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group

@matthewxdixon | blog

“I see the end of the traditional customer survey as we know it.  AI and machine learning make customer listening and Voice of Customer analysis—at scale—suddenly possible in a way it wasn’t before.  This means two things: (1) CX leaders will need to shift their teams from “survey administrators” to true internal consultants responsible for identifying and rectifying CX issues and (2) we will see break-through advances in CX happen with greater regularity as companies embrace these new technologies and their CX teams take up the mantle of CX reengineering on a large scale.

I think the biggest challenge is that CX has revolved around a set of assumptions—for instance, that customers will reward them for moments of delight, that customers want a relationship with the companies they do business with, that customers prefer live interactions over self-service, that customers want empathy when things go wrong, that customers want choice, etc.—that have rarely, if ever, been called into question. They are sort of the “pillars of faith” in CX.

While there’s been plenty of research in recent years to suggest that many of these assumptions are misplaced, CX leaders still refuse to acknowledge that they may have gotten it wrong—perhaps because there is so much pressure to embrace the conventional wisdom within their own companies or because they’ve lacked the data about their customers (thereby falling into the “we’re different” trap).

Stop surveying your customers and start listening to them.  You have more Voice of Customer data at your fingertips than you could possibly imagine—and it comes in the form of recorded phone conversations between your frontline staff and your customers.  Voice data—analyzed by AI—is the next great frontier that will enable a level of customer understanding heretofore not possible and will equip CX leaders with the insight they need to overturn many of these age-old assumption and achieve CX break-throughs that will deliver significant improvements to customer loyalty.”

 

Vicki Amon-Higa, CCXP, CX Coach and Consultant at Amon-Higa & Associates

“Customer Experience will be a key driver of growth for companies going forward -- it will continue to be an 'and' game of great products that deliver the outcome customers need AND a great experience end to end so that customers can find and buy those products as well as easily start using them and get the help they need to continue to get the benefits from them.

 A delightful customer experience alone is not enough and great products alone won't get found and purchased. Marketing and Product Organizations need to play well together to create these experiences and be the catalysts for this growth, together.

The top challenges I see are that everyone wants Customer Experience to be the latest and greatest ... it is a continuation of the quality journey started in the USA after the historic 'If Japan can, why can't we' wake up in the late 1970s. It is an evolution of more and more aware customers who are influenced by their B2C experiences and expect the same, if not better from other experiences as a customer.

To overcome these challenges, we need to stand on the shoulders of those giants before us, and continue to play with each other, it truly is a team sport! “

 

Raul Guillermo Amigo, CEO and Founder at Umuntu CX Design, Speaker and Author

@raulamigo | blog (in Spanish)

“CX is called to be one of the strategic pillars of modern business administration.

Marketing, Customer service. Market research, Customer understanding, Service & process design, Brand positioning, and Revenue generation will be functional to this new area of the company.

In my opinion the next big challenge for CX are:

  • To step forward from the basic Customer understanding, and take it to an on going flow of insights feed Customer Operations and Marketing,
  • To build a unified vision inside the organization about what customer experience is,
  • To ensure CX turning it into an actionable area of the company
  • To create a culture where all employees are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

To overcome those challenges, you have to have an experiential framework per customer segment to explain the meaning attribution process, enriched with an AI tool to update it. Create an internal CX certification program to ensure the common understanding of what is and how to manage the customer experience. Apply design thinking to turn voice of the customer into design input and involve upper management to create a corporate strategy around CX.”