It was almost nine months ago when attending the CXPA Insights exchange that I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation from Ian Golding, where he had two quotes that have stuck with me:

  • “It’s our job as CX professionals to educate on the importance of embedding the science of customer experience to enable differentiation.”
  • “Courage – to be a CX Professional, you need to have an exceptionally thick forehead for bashing against the wall. Courage, persistence, and passion for doing the right things for the right reasons.”

I refer to these quotes occasionally as a reminder that, as practitioners, we are here to help our clients succeed. We do that through differentiation and courage – but it is much more than just saying two words. It is the idea that we must truly practice what we preach.

I’m always intrigued when I go to a customer experience conference or workshop because everyone I speak with works in “customer experience”, but they all do something very unique and different. That is a good thing – for our industry and our clients. Imagine if every business operated in the same way, there would be no differentiation, and certainly no reason to go out of the way for one business over another. It would also be quite boring to watch Super Bowl ads.

When I’m asked where I see the future of CX research, it tends to be a very easy answer for me. However, beyond answering the question, there is a layer of differentiation and courage that needs to be included. Since I’ve been in the industry, my goal has always been to provide data-backed insights to my clients that allows them to change their business towards the goal of profitably improving the customer experience – a win for the business and a win for their customers. That goal has not changed – what has changed is the technology – which should make attaining this goal easier, but it seems to get further away. 

The truth is that when we look at customer experience, we’re not differentiating ourselves from the customer. In fact, I’d guess my five key components of a baseline CX program are the same across all the providers out there, whether competing with them directly or not. There is no differentiation. Too often, we get caught up on executing the first part, collecting data (directly or indirectly), that we rarely get to do, what I consider, the really cool things – talking to our clients about courageous things that can make a difference in their customers’ experiences. We’re all sitting on that slow-moving merry-go-round, not quite ready to decide where to jump.

It doesn’t take much to prognosticate the future, just an opinion. Sometimes, you get the answer wrong, but think about all the great success stories, and how many times they failed before succeeding.

LET’S JUMP

  1. I really see technology as an enabler for us to make the next leap in the customer experience area. While we spend a lot of time getting the data right, we make the next step by getting insights. It doesn’t always require a complicated data model that only the creator understands, often it is just getting the insight into the right hands at the right time. At QuestionPro, we call them push metrics. Curated or un-curated information to the front line in time to do something. While closed-loop feedback helps correct a service failure, push metrics will enable the frontline to execute on clear instructions, without a data science degree. Call it AI or Machine learning, but it will be guided learning that makes the insights better.
  1. The idea that we need to collect 50 data points every time we have a customer on the hook for a survey is an idea whose time passed a long time ago. However, too often, there wasn’t an alternative. Data about the customer was kept in silos. Those silos are slowly, and sometimes very reluctantly, being broken down, allowing everyone in the organization to know more about the customers than ever before. Customer Experience measurement, brand A&U measurement, and even employee experience will become measures that are looked at together, not in isolation.
  1. Passive information is already collected, but we’ll continue to see that data improve and be enriched by actively collected data combined with business metrics. Marketing, customer experience and operations will be able to provide a better experience to the customer holistically. 
  1. Data privacy will become more rigid, requiring consumers and customers to explicitly grant permission for certain data collection activities – both passive and active. Most consumers will be like me, I’m happy to provide this data so long as you provide value in return. Those that do, will be rewarded with customers that are happy with their experiences, get the right marketing at the right time and spend more. Those that don’t will see failed marketing efforts, fewer visits, and their app get deleted from their phone.
  1. Speaking of apps, brands that utilize apps for their customer loyalty program effectively will have the ability to start all of these steps more immediately. At QuestionPro, we’ve already built-in SDK links with clients’ apps that give us the ability to immediately rate the interaction (just like you would with a ride-share app) and connect it to the transaction.

As technologies evolve at a faster rate, and storage becomes even less of an issue, success will come to those brands that are able to effectively connect and analyze the data towards true action. Probably the biggest change that I see coming in customer experience is attaching services the technology that is being rolled out. I’m proud to have always worked for companies that feel it is important to include that in any CX program, including here at QuestionPro, where we can roll out top-rated technology with a layer of service. Here’s to the future.