Our team of CX experts have looked into their crystal balls to see what’s coming around the corner in 2020. From the growing importance of AI to the explosion in C-Suite experience leaders, here are the opportunities and challenges that will define the next 12 months…

1. We’ll move from moments to journeys and segments

As the CX industry continues to mature, it’ll become more important to understand and measure the value of investments in CX and the ability to provide personalized interactions at scale. Not just delivering one-off experiences that get lots of press attention, but becoming an organization that can meet expectations every single time.

2. It’ll become more critical to understand your CX maturity

More emphasis is going to be placed on measuring and scaling up high impact CX investments. So it’s going to become even more critical for CX leaders to understand the maturity of their organization and how all the experience pillars (customer, employee, product and brand) fit into their full Experience Management (XM) vision.

3. AI will drive up virtual agent adoption – and free up humans

Contrary to popular belief, virtual agents aren’t about to replace humans in front-end operations. But we do expect AI to help drive adoption of virtual assistants and for it to become the primary channel of self service. However, this will mean human agents can save time and effort, become more productive, and focus on being a source of revenue rather than be a cost center.

4. It’s critical you can tell when a customer needs human help

Virtual assistants will become the primary channel of self-service, but your focus should be on mechanisms that can distinguish when your customer is confused – and based on that emotion, when they need to engage a live agent. So, ultimately, the experience is frictionless, yet effortless from the customer’s perspective.

5. Augmented reality will be at the heart of XM

Technologies like augmented and virtual reality will be important in elevating customer experiences and improving decision-making. These technologies will make shopping easy, convenient, attractive and certainly differentiated – enabling customers to touch, feel, discover and explore products and get a realistic view of the product or service experience.

6. Move over digital transformation, it’s about experience now

Digital transformation is here – it’s part of our vernacular. Yet, 20 years in, we haven’t seen the results promised and expectations for a seamless customer experience are higher than ever. It’s now time to shift from digital transformation to experience transformation. Understanding the customer experience and acting on those insights is the key to success in today’s dynamic experience economy.

7. We’ll get better at integrating X- and O-Data

We’re going to get better at generating actions from X- and O-Data insights and integrating that into customer interactions. That may show up in many AI-enabled digital interactions, where an organization will be able to quickly and accurately find relevant information for a customer based on what the company knows about them from past interactions.

8. We’ll get smarter at hiring for CX roles

While there will still be a need for generalists who can cover a lot of the essential practices of customer experience, as CX programs are federated across a company, some CX professionals will choose to specialize and become deep experts in areas like advanced data analysis, experience design, culture change management, or specific technologies that power a customer’s journey.

9. We’ll see more CX leaders who can do it all

As some people specialize, we’ll also see the emergence of a new hybrid role, consisting of those CX leaders who cover the 3 main areas of CX: measure, manage and act. They’ll begin pioneering a new field called “Analytics-Driven CX Design”. They’ll be able to expertly understand what is happening and how to fix it, but will also develop the skills to completely redesign experiences based off of data-led decision-making.

10. CX professionals will need to develop their skills

CX professionals themselves need to continue to examine the role they want to play in this discipline, the type of organization and program they want to be a part of, and how they want their personal career to progress. This includes adapting their own skill sets to step into new challenges.

11. There’ll be an expertise explosion

CX was a brand new field when many of the XM Scientists here at Qualtrics got started. Over the past decade, we’ve seen incredible growth in the robustness of our practice, the complexity of data understanding, and a matching growth in expertise. Now, rather than CX being seen as a burgeoning career, we are starting to see professionals with broad and deep skill sets, pushing the industry and focus forward.

12. We’ll stop trying to understand every single comment

Machine learning, virtual reality, and AI will continue to change the interface of experiences. But we shouldn’t get stuck trying to understand the language our clients with the nuance and sophistication of a conversation partner. Instead, we need to reframe this activity from wanting to understand to wanting to act.

13. Managing PII will get more complex

We’ve already seen an increased focus on regulation around personally identifiable information (PII) and privacy. And this will only continue to be a strong and powerful driver (and concern) for the XM space. Learning how to reach and understand customers and employees while maintaining robust and careful privacy will grow as a critical area of focus for most organizations, especially in the financial, tech, media and health spaces.

14. The continued rise of the new contact center

We will begin to see an increasing number of firms becoming data-led disruptors. First, they’ll adapt contact center metrics that get managed. And secondly, they’ll start analyzing contact center and digital data side-by-side. As a result, we’ll begin to see an improvement in deployed digital agents, AI-driven chatbots and how contact center workflows are executed.

15. Numeracy and tech know-how will become standard

Newcomers to the workforce have a much better understanding of how to decipher and model behavior. A growing percentage of the graduating workforce can apply these and other skills in new base languages, such as Python. Plus, the curriculums and team-based projects require recent grads to have a deeper grasp of how basic systems (e.g. CRM, ERP, HCM) work. So as CX scales into businesses, there is a discernable set of skills that can be hired for and the overall average quality of recent grads is higher than even just 10 years ago.

16. We’ll settle the Frictionless vs “Designed Moment” debate

There’s lots of thought leadership on the value of frictionless experiences. No doubt, easier is better, but it’s not always feasible nor even desirable. Some businesses survive on the experiences they design for the residual memories they seek to create; every neuroscientist working in brand creation is pushing this theme right now. Well, certainly both seem viable. Both have proven results. But how do you know which strategy is right for your industry and your firm’s journeys? Come see Luke Williams (Head of CX Strategy) at X4 2020 to find out.

17. We’ll work out how CX fits into the C-Suite

The new set of senior job titles – Chief Customer Officer, Chief Experience Officer – is a confusing mix. From just re-titling the CMO role, to creating a whole new role stuck in the ivory tower… and everything in between. Job descriptions on these roles range everywhere from NPS program runners to sales roles to marketing roles. 2020 is the year that we gain consensus on what is and is not meant for these new roles. If not, 2021 will be spent trying to regain the momentum and potential of CX…because it will falter without a defined leader.

18. Healthcare will begin its XM maturity journey

After years of talking about patient-centered care, health systems will begin to look outside of industry to truly embrace the technologies, tools and practices that will lead to actual customer centricity. This will help healthcare executives recognize that ‘patient experience’ is more than a ‘nice-to-have’ extra but a true driver of organizational financial health. And that it will lead to improved outcomes, plus employee engagement and enablement.

19. Benchmarking in healthcare will go to the next level

Healthcare organizations have typically benchmarked against national databases which are unrelated to true competition or standards of similarity. The next set of goals will be progressive, set by internal benchmarks. Organizations will also start to use competitive benchmarking against other systems where their customers have real choices. Both of these goals will prove to be more truthful and more motivating for employees.

20. We’ll finish off what we started in 2018

Our favorite perennial prediction is that firms will focus a decent portion of 2020 efforts on work tracks they had predicted would be finished by 2 years earlier. Most firms have some kind of instrumentation in place and many have decent metric systems, but little cohesive actions nor a strategy devised by which to get a firm to rally around the CX movement. So if we’re going to take advantage of all CX will have to offer in 2020, we need to complete what we’ve already started.

See the 20 breakthrough experiences to look out for in 2020

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