CX: The Past
I often remind people the acronym “CX” was little-known until Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss co-founded the Customer Experience Professionals Association in 2011. In fact, it was not uncommon for the skills and competencies professionals used in pursuit of doing what was right for customers and employees prior to 2011 to be overlooked, or considered “soft and fluffy,” or just plain irritating. “Customer experience” across the organization wasn’t a clear business initiative or concern.
Fast track to 2019 where not only have customer experience skills and capabilities been clearly defined and recognized in the form of a professional qualification, but what we do is being talked about by CEOs across the globe. This has moved CX from being something CX professionals had to vigorously push on organizations, to something that is now actively being asked for.
However (there is always one of those), while the awareness, definition, and significance of CX has evolved significantly, a full understanding of it hasn’t. Despite the rhetoric having changed, there’s still a lack of understanding of what it takes to become a sustainable customer-centric organization.
CX: The Present
Today, there’s a rise in prominence and significance of the Employee Experience, or “EX”, and its integral connection to CX. While the customer experience community has always understood that they are inextricably linked, it finally appears as though the rest of the world is now understanding that it’s difficult to do one without the other. For many years, the most customer-centric leaders have preached that the way an organization treats its people will directly affect the way their people treat the customer. With EX becoming more recognizable, there’s hope that those words will become a reality for many more employees.
It would also be impossible to talk about the evolution of CX without mentioning technology. Technology is advancing at a remarkable rate—as much as the CX acronym has gained in awareness, so has AI (artificial intelligence), virtual assistants, augmented reality, and so many others. On an almost weekly basis, innovations in technology are allowing organizations to believe that there are better, quicker, more effective ways to interact with customers. However (there is that word again), too many are seeing this mainly as a way of benefiting of the organization—not the customer. As a result, ironically, the rise in awareness of EX is coming at a time when there as an increasing desire to remove the “E” from the “X” as much as possible.
CX: The Future
Technology will undoubtedly continue to play a huge part in the evolution of the CX profession. That evolution, in my opinion, will continue to manifest itself in the “fatal” disruption of traditional industries. For the last 10 years, industries such as retail and financial services have been attacked from all sides by new, nimble, and agile start-ups. These disrupters are leveraging new technology to specifically design customer journeys, support processes, and deliver relevant propositions to customers. Long standing, legacy brands who have largely sat and watched the customer experience evolution are getting to the point where their life support won’t last much longer—the, “if we build it, customers will come” mentality is long gone.
Legacy businesses who have the desire to survive will have to fundamentally re-look at their organizations from top to bottom—starting with their brand proposition, and determining how capable the customer journey is in delivering it. They will then need to align both process and technology to create a leaner, more efficient business that can effectively meet (and sometimes exceed) customer needs consistently. In 2019 and beyond, I fully expect to see more legacy brands fatally fail, while others reform and re-position themselves.
One of the biggest issues the CX community has faced over the last several years is the failure of organizations to adopt a continuous, never-ending cycle of activity to effectively and actively manage the customer journey. Millions have “mapped” journeys, but what good are mapped journeys if nothing is done with them?
Going forward, Customer Journey Management (CJM) is going to be critical to the future of CX adoption. CJM is a series of activities that must be adopted if an organization is going to stand a chance in sustaining its focus on CX. The process connects a number of pieces of the CX jigsaw puzzle, including:
A) Clearly defining the customer
B) Mapping their journey
C) Measuring the journey
D) Identifying the priorities for improvement that will have the greatest effect on improving customer perception and commercial performance
E) Addressing the priorities
F) Amending the journey to reflect the changes
This process is then repeated again…and again…and again…forever! It’s critical that this starts to happen in far more organizations than we see today—and will be one of the things I continue to focus on helping become a reality.