Customer experience (CX) is having a moment. More attention and more resources are flowing as organizations realize that CX just may be the centerpiece of their master plan for customer acquisition AND customer retention (not to mention employee satisfaction).
In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, I asked some of the most brilliant CX thought leaders about what they LOVE about CX in 2019, and where practitioners should focus their time and attention. I even threw in my own perspective, at the end.
What CX Leaders LOVE in 2019
Jeanne Bliss, President of CustomerBLISS
What tops my CX list this year is focusing on LEADERSHIP.
What CX is at its core, is choosing how a company will and will not grow. It’s giving employees the ability to rise and deliver. It’s modeling behavior that gives people permission to act and be trusted. It’s changing how leaders ask for accountability, how united they are in understanding one version of the “truth” of their current experience, in what they reward people for and in what behaviors they herald.
Sometimes CX is doled out. But instead, it needs to be a mind shift that begins with leaders willing to change how the company commits, behaves, and operates to earn the right to customer-driven growth.
In a well-intended way, many CX efforts are focusing on numbers, dashboards, and lists of tasks…without seeing customer sentiment, advocacy, and behavior advancing or improving. That’s because the company at its core is not changing the way it does business. It hasn’t made the deliberate shift to walk away from actions that hold the cards for the company and fence employees into rules that make it hard for them to deliver value or to be trusted. It’s measuring customer experience in tasks, rather than in how the company changes its behavior.
My wish for 2019 is to have leaders put their skin in the game. They must personally get into the weeds enough to know what their employees and customers go through. Then, they must personally be involved in clearing out the organizational clutter that gets in the way of true change occurring.
Until this occurs, lists will continue to be made and actions will be perceived as progress, but companies will not change in their customers or employees’ eyes.
This work is not for the faint of heart. It takes “Salmon” leaders who are willing to swim upstream, challenge, and enable. That’s what I will be putting all my energy into assisting companies with this year: Leadership Bravery that accelerates their path to growth.
Ian Golding, Author of Customer What?
What I love in 2019 is simple: CUSTOMER JOURNEY MANAGEMENT.
The biggest issue we have faced over the last few 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 that is not what I mean.
Millions have mapped journeys and then done nothing with them. Customer Journey management is a series of activities that must be adopted if an organization is going to stand a chance of sustaining its focus on CX. The process connects a number of pieces of the “CX jigsaw puzzle”, including:
- Clearly defining the customer
- Mapping their journey
- Measuring the journey
- Identifying the priorities for improvement (that will have the greatest effect on improving customer perception and commercial performance)
- Addressing the priorities
- Amending the journey to reflect the changes
This ‘process’ is then repeated again… and again… and again… forever. It is 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 to become a reality.
Shep Hyken, Author of The Convenience Revolution
What I would love in 2019 is for leaders to hear their customers say, “They are so easy to work with!” Creating a CONVENIENT EXPERIENCE should be at the top of every CX, customer service, and marketing agenda.
How? Eliminate friction. No more duplicate forms to fill out. Don’t make customers wait. Implement technologies that are focused on creating simplicity and ease for the customer (not just for the company). What can you take or deliver to your customer, rather than make them come to you? There are many ways to create convenience.
It’s just this simple: Customers will do more business with the companies that are easiest to do business with. In most cases, price becomes less relevant when you offer up an easier experience. Often, they will pay more. And, a convenience strategy can not only disrupt your competition, but potentially an entire industry. Show your customers a little love in the form of convenience, and they will love you back in the form of more business.
Blake Morgan, Author of More is More
In 2019 I would love to see more efforts toward creating PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCES for customers.
Have you ever known someone who can never remember your name, or any details of the last interaction? It’s like they have amnesia! Unfortunately, many of our own brands have amnesia toward customers. We can’t remember who they are, what they need, or any details from our last interaction with them.
In contrast, customers today are getting incredibly personal experiences from other brands who not only know them, but anticipate their needs. This personalized interaction is preferred over experiences full of stops and starts, where customers must repeat themselves at every turn.
Personalization happens when a company treats a customer more like a person and less like a wallet. This requires a CX mindset. It’s the CX mindset in practice, when the company makes life easier on the customer, even if it means making it harder on their own brand.
Personalization happens when the company leverages a deep understanding of customer preference, structured and unstructured customer data, and conversations in and across all channels. It’s when companies can preemptively anticipate a customer’s needs. Customers crave personalization. Let’s make it happen in 2019!
Jay Baer, Founder of Convince & Convert
One of the major challenges for CX is that there is a seemingly limitless list of optimizations and enhancements that you could tackle to enhance customer satisfaction. The breadth and depth of these options can be paralyzing. It’s a paradox of choice for CX leaders: “There are so many things we could do, it takes us longer to do anything, because we have to weigh so many options first.”
Does that sound familiar? We sometimes find ourselves paralyzed by possibilities in CX, and whenever we try to eat (or even document) the entire sandwich at one time, it causes severe indigestion. This contributes mightily to the leadership shortcomings Jeanne Bliss mentions above.
What I’d love for 2019 is for CX pros to pick ONE THING that they’re going to conquer this year. One thing that they can take from mediocre to magnificent, in their organization. That’s why I’m glad that my colleagues on the Oracle CX Unforgettable series have provided several, highly-specific calls-to-arms for 2019, such as convenience (Shep), personalization (Blake), and customer journey management (Ian). These are all applicable ONE THINGS.
I’ll add my own: Speed.
I don’t know everything, but I do know this: speed expectations never move backwards. What was considered fast two years ago is considered average today. That will never change. And in this era where consumers are being trained to expect every conceivable thing in a moment’s notice, lack of speed may be your customers’ greatest frustration with you.
Of all the possible CX enhancements on the available menu – it’s a buffet of alternatives – for my money the best ratio of resources to outcomes is around speed. If you can map how long it takes your organization to do EVERYTHING and then shave 20% off that time across-the-board, your customers will absolutely notice. It will make a difference.
Time is the only finite commodity, and customers care more about it than ever. What I’d love to see in 2019 is for you to find ways to be faster, everywhere.
Very best wishes for a successful CX 2019.