Customer experience (CX) has become a key differentiator for today’s top brands with everyone rushing to advance their programs. But where best to spend time and effort for maximum results? What does the future of CX look like? Here are predictions from Luke Williams, Head of CX at Qualtrics, on top CX trends for 2017.

Customers

  • 1. Customer Expectations Accelerate, Companies Struggle to Keep Up.
    Owing to advances in customer experience awareness, customers will max-out their expectations on how a company should deliver experiences, belying the lack of uniform customer experience management and innovation in the market. Companies must be always on and correct: omnichannel, customized, rapid, easy, “know me” but yet private, everyday customer expectations are immense.
  • 2. Service Failures Will Increasingly Require Abundant Recovery.
    Expectations will rise around a firm’s ability to detect dissatisfaction and then recover customer loyalty with speed and overwhelming love. Customers are now fully sensing the power of word of mouth – and the potential to grow consensus at a magnitude – and getting companies to react to their issues. Companies will need to preempt with passion, empathy and excel through service delivery.
  • 3. CX Visionaries Innovative Inimitably.
    Amazon Go, if successful, could establish a benchmark that’s unachievable and therefore won’t set the standard. However, customers will sense that every other retailer COULD do more to create high-quality, effortless experiences simply by prioritizing their importance.

Companies

  • 4. Beginning of the End For Data-Gazing.
    This year, there will be more activity around the data collected and turning that data into action. Dashboards will shrink to only the most critical components. A growing cohort of firms will become bored with tracking KPI and focus on business outcomes, turning KPIs and research into business plans and reaction playbook.
  • 5. The Eternal Question Unanswered: Who Owns the Customer?
    Firms will continue their struggle in defining the difference between a CCO, a CXO and a CMO, where they overlap and where gaps exist.
  • 6. Companies Continue CX Efficiency Push.
    Firms will spend more money on technology to provide their ongoing research, dashboards, analytics and integrations. Costs on human consulting will focus more on subject matter expertise. The positive savings will be spent on transformation activities or captured as cost-savings.

Analytics

  • 7. Emotion, Financial ROI Join NPS as Program KPIs.
    A growing need to “round out” the view of the customer will be enabled by improvements in emotion detection and survey-based ROI model sciences.
  • 8. Data Strategy Becomes Paramount, Remains Elusive.
    Data strategy can be as important as the data you collect. The prediction, however, is that companies will fail doing it themselves and will be forced to hire talent or consulting architects to make retroactive upgrades.
  • 9. Python Grows as the “It” Language.
    SAS programmers are safe for the moment, but many will bypass R and go straight to Python. Large scale licenses for older stats packages will decline as routine activities (regression-based driver analyses, segmentation) are pushed to faster, out-of-the-box solutions and as part of data dashboards.
  • 10. A.I. Continues Its Upswing.
    The continued development of AI solutions will begin to allow increasing identification and analysis for photos, videos, voice analytics, text analytics and anomaly detection. Applications such as service bots will continue to rise. Time-to-value on related research tool decreases and real-time analytics will start to become more available for those with budgets to invest. The space will be ripe for the low-cost disruptor. Early beneficiaries will be CPG, Retail, Hospitality and academic researchers.

Bonus

  • 11. Perpetual Catch-Up.
    The CX team must move quickly to be effective, but chances are you’re still focusing on 2016 resolutions: optimizing your website, activating social listening, connecting the dots between customer sentiment and customer behavior. You’re already behind, so get moving! Action, change and momentum are key to successful CX programs.

Luke Williams is Head of Customer Experience (CX) at Qualtrics and is an award-winning researcher and author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Wallet Allocation Rule,” and “Why Loyalty Matters.” A statistician and methodologist by training, Luke is a thought leader in the space of customer experience, client satisfaction, client loyalty, client ROI, strategy, and analytics. He is a member of the Market Research Association (MRA) and CXPA. Luke has a M.A. in Research Methods from Durham University in England.