What will CX look like in 2017?

CX 2017 predictions

Illustration here is by Stephen Murrill of Help Scout.

Over the holidays, I read two interesting articles about customer experience. The first one, from Forbes, is called “Five Bold Expert Predictions For 2017.” (I am not among these experts, no.) The second article is from Harvard Business Review and called “The Most Common Reasons Customer Experience Programs Fail.” These are admittedly just two articles — there are dozens, if not hundreds, of articles published every day about CX — but if you find the intersection point of the two, you can learn a little bit about what customer experience trend lines might look like this year. Let’s dive deeper.

Chatbots

They are mentioned in the Forbes article, and they’ve been a fairly big theme of this year in customer experience and mobile. Chatbots are basically AI robots that interact with you through apps. The idea of chatbots is to deal with basic customer service needs, so that customer-facing employees can focus on the more complex needs. Some people look at a concept like chatbots and start to get scared of automation instantly. Automation is a reality, yes — it will come for many jobs — but chatbots are a great example of how automation may ultimately benefit us. If AI programs replace the tedious aspects of our jobs and we’re freed to do more strategic work, couldn’t everyone benefit?

Omnichannel

It’s been a buzzword in recent years, especially in marketing circles. Now, though, it’s an interesting space. 78 percent of consumers are willing to allow retailers to use information from in-store purchases for a more customized experience. That’s good news, right? Right. But: while 83 percent of marketers list data-driven decision-making as crucial, only 10 percent believe their organization is good at it yet. We’ve been discussing “big data” for years now, but this year we might begin to understand that you don’t necessarily need “big” (read: a lot) data, you need the right data. As they organize processes around that idea, our insights will become more effective. 53 percent of consumers want to be recognized as the same person across all shopping channels, so ideally, better insights will lead to better omnichannel campaigns.

Geofencing

You’ve probably heard about geofencing by now. If you haven’t, you will by the end (beginning?) of 2017. Because your phone has your location info (unless you opt out of that feature), businesses can set up geofences and target messages to you when you enter or exit a specific area. This has become very popular at trade shows (while there, you might only see ads for 1 or 2 vendors) and in retail. If you enter a geofenced store, you may receive different in-app offers than you would accessing the app from home or another location. Geofencing has become essential to most mobile and experience-driven marketers over the last few years; that will only continue in 2017.

Better goal alignment

This is, essentially, my life’s work. I love coming into companies and helping them understand the value of CX — and helping the CX leaders unify the rest of the leadership team. It’s the central theme of my books, my podcast, and my keynote speeches. Well, in the Harvard Business Review article I linked above, here are the three reasons they list that CX programs often fail:

  1. They are not designed with change or innovation in mind.
  2. They have “soft” metrics rather than real business goals.
  3. They move slowly and without purpose. 

I’d agree with that. There are other reasons, of course, but those are three of the big ones. I sincerely hope that 2017 is a year more companies begin investing in customer experience and doing it right, as opposed to just doing it. I can always help!

Trend-spotting and identification is always hard. And, yes, a lot of times one company is successful with something in CX — so subsequently a lot of other companies will try to copy that concept. We don’t always know where everything is headed. But these are a couple of 2017 predictions. Some were more logistical and some were broader. What are you thinking about in customer experience for this year? Where do you see things headed?

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