Look, this is the only year we get to cash in on the 2020 vision jokes. I know you're rolling your eyes. I know.
Speaking of rolling, I hope you used your vacation days this year in case they don't roll over. 2020 approaches, and it's been an interesting, exciting, and concurrently stressful year for the Customer Experience industry. We've talked to influencers, thought leaders, practitioners and scholars from all over the CX map, and we're drawing up our battle plan for next year as we speak.
It comes in two phases: What trends we learned from this year, and what we predict will be major battlegrounds in the very near future.
What we learned from 2019
Customer experience has taken hold of the mainstream media. You know how we know? Radio ads. If there were any CX hipsters left out there, they're long gone by now. The word 'experience' is popping up again and again in ad campaigns. For us CX professionals, that means a lot of businesses are looking for solutions to their experience initiatives, which means potential customers. For consumers, it means businesses are listening, which is good all the way around.
CX has become the new corporate culture standard. We've been hearing the words 'customer centric culture' from just about everyone this year. The new expectation is that companies are always in tune with their customers' needs and concerns. New companies entering the market are implementing it right off the bat, and legacy companies from all industries are scrambling to adjust their service mindsets to keep pace with their nimbler counterparts. It's an opportunity you don't want to miss.
Tech and methodologies for quantifying CX are improving rapidly. The main struggle for CX operatives in recent years has been validating their efforts through clear, data-driven results that they can pass on to their exec board. Until recently, that was almost unreasonably difficult to pull off. Advancements in AI, Machine Learning and survey methodologies have made it not only possible, but profitable to invest in CX initiatives, because now we know what to measure and why, and we can do it at record pace.
Data collection has caused both major advances and major problems. Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon have all been persona-non-grata when it comes to data security, each coming under public and government scrutiny for different reasons. Customers hate feeling like their data is being taken advantage of for profit, or worse, not being adequately protected from cybercriminals and state actors. With a small number of companies commanding a vast amount of user data, and a new data breach in the news every couple weeks, people are right to be skeptical of their data's security.
People generally understand that companies gather their data with every intention of providing a more personalized experience (which they want), but there's a fine line between using data intuitively and intrusively, and the tech majors aren't getting it quite right yet.
Our bet: Nailing privacy and personalization will put you way ahead.
Marketing efforts are trending towards authenticity and originality. People loathe being 'marketed to', and have gotten good at tuning out everything that remotely smells of a sales pitch. So instead of selling, marketers are shifting to storytelling. Products don't sell themselves, but uniquely compelling stories that position the customer as the hero? Those do.
It's a welcome change of pace, but it can create friction when the messages don't match up with reality. Your actual CX needs to reflect your message, or you're setting yourself up for a nasty expectation gap. Keeping all of your departments in the loop is essential.
Our bet: Authenticity and silo-busting will be necessities in 2020.
CX is getting...well, a bit boring. Hear me out on this one: when everyone is doing the same thing, it becomes normal, and normal becomes boring very quickly. Employee Experience is being explored as a new avenue for growth, but it's still 'experience' at its core, so it's more of a natural progression than a ground-breaking innovation.
While companies are getting on board with experience initiatives, the CX market is starting to look a bit same-same. But that means there's a golden opportunity for companies to break from the pack with something new, all the while keeping up with the speed of change.
Our bet: The biggest risk for CX in 2020 will be not taking any risks.