Customer Experience: Expert Predictions for 2017
Many companies are in the midst of their strategic planning for the year. One area of business that cannot be ignored is the importance of customer experience (CX)—in fact, Gartner predicted that, by 2017, 89% of marketers expected customer experience to be the primary differentiator (Source: Gartner). Clearly, CX matters.
The question is where should companies focus their CX efforts this year?
To gain deeper insight on this question, we asked four prominent CX industry leaders from Temkin Group, Walker, Technology Services Industry Association, and Dell to share their perspectives.
Here’s what they have to say…
Expert Advice: Bruce Temkin, CX Transformist & Managing Partner, Temkin Group, @btemkin
“Focus on the human element—emotion”
“For 2017, I’d like to see customer experience efforts more clearly acknowledge that customers are human beings. I know that sounds a bit odd, since what else are customers if they’re not human beings?!? All too often, however, I see customer experience activities that implicitly assume that customers aren’t actually human beings. How? They regularly neglect emotions, motivations, intuitive thinking, and individuality.
Customers who have a very positive emotional experience are more than 15 times as likely to recommend a company, more than 7 times as likely to make additional purchases, and almost 7 times more likely to forgive a company if it makes a mistake. In most cases, emotion is the largest driver of loyalty, yet the Temkin Experience Ratings show that emotion is the lowest scoring element of an experience. That’s not a surprise, since our research also shows that companies are not good at measuring or designing for human emotions.
So, for 2017, let’s explicitly remember that our customer experience efforts (including our work on employee engagement) affect real people who have a unique emotional response to everything we do, are motivated by intrinsic goals, and often make intuitive, not rational decisions.”
Bruce’s Recommended Resources:
- Visit IntensifyEmotion.com to find out more about how to cater to your customers’ emotions
- Visit CXResources.com for access to many free Temkin Group resources
- Visit CXPA.org to connect with a worldwide community of customer experience professionals
Expert Advice: Sean Clayton, Senior Vice President, Walker
“Align your CX strategy with CEO needs”
“CEOs today overwhelmingly believe in the power of CX to differentiate their company and create an advantage in the marketplace. Walker believes companies need to seize this new found visibility by aligning CX programs with CEO needs. CX programs are typically focused on identifying tactical customer issues that need fixing. What CEOs want are strategic initiatives that drive growth, profitability and a competitive advantage.
A key opportunity for CX in 2017 is to evolve from just pinpointing break-fix problems that cause customer pain to also determining which aspects of the customer journey could be redesigned to create breakthrough outcomes, in the form of memorable experiences that truly differentiate your company (for real life examples of this, take a look at what Silvercar and Amazon Go are each doing to the car rental and grocery store experiences respectively).
CEOs tell us that innovation is both part of the customer experience and essential to business success. Companies that have successfully leveraged CX into a competitive advantage are steered by CEOs who prioritize innovation over cost-cutting initiatives.
In 2017, take a fresh look at your company’s CX strategy and rethink your current CX practices in order to innovate. Designing and delivering an exceptional experience isn’t quick or easy, but it is the best way to create the sustainable competitive advantage that your CEO expects from CX.”
Sean’s Recommended Resources:
- Report: “What CEOs Really Think About CX” (Walker)
- Webinar: “CX from the CEO’s Point of View” (Customer Experience Professionals Association)
Expert Advice: Vele Galovski, Vice President of Research, Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) @
“Focus on customer outcomes”
“Traditional business models that have been geared to making, selling, and shipping product are under significant pressure. As product margins compress and product revenues decline, company revenue streams are becoming more service intensive (see TSIA Service 50 Index). Unfortunately, traditional support, education, and professional service offerings are losing their enamor with customers since they were designed to implement technology and keep it running. What customers really want is help optimizing their use of technology.
This is giving rise to new classes of services such as Adoption Services (help the customer move from low to effective adoption of your technology), Managed Services (help the customer optimize ongoing operational costs), and Outcome Services (help the customer achieve specific business outcomes).
These new outcome-based offers demand a heightened level of CX since:
- They require an in-depth understanding of the customer and the business outcomes they are hoping to achieve.
- They require service organizations to systematically drive technology adoption within customer accounts, and
- They require accelerated customer spending and you cannot cross-sell / upsell a dissatisfied customer.
Here are three questions to kick-start your internal customer outcomes discussions:
- What types of new pricing models are your customer’s looking for today?
- What are the customer business outcomes we can help impact with our technology?
- How are customers going to be consuming technology five years from now?
Your ability to show a cause and effect relationship between your services and the customer’s business outcome will ultimately determine the success of your company.”
Vele’s Recommended Resources:
- Blog: “It’s All About the Outcome”
- Video: “7 Steps to Unlock Profitable Revenue Growth” by Thomas Lah, TSIA
- Engage with TSIA to transform your customer outcomes
Expert Advice: Carolyn Muise, Vice President of Voice of Customer Analytics and Intelligence, Dell.
“It’s all about the data—predictive analytics, visualizations and governance”
“In 2017 and beyond as we become a more digital world, it is increasingly important to focus on customer experience. To strengthen customer relationships, companies need to invest in strategies and tools to unlock the power of Big Data. Predictive analytics, data visualization tools and a comprehensive data governance program are three of the most important areas to focus on this year.
Predictive analytics allows companies to extract information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and anticipate future outcomes and trends. Companies that leverage predictive modeling as part of their strategy will see a significant increase in their profitability in the coming years—Gartner notes up to 250% ROI for companies who utilize it (Source: Gartner).
Data visualization tools allow data scientists and business experts alike to easily compare and show macro trends across the global customer base as well as provide customized views for an individual account. It is imperative that companies hire and train employees who can both perform the challenging data analysis work but also translate key insights into compelling and consumable stories.
Data governance provides a ‘single source of truth’ about customers. And the growing importance of governance is clear around the world—IDC says: ‘by 2017, two-thirds of Asian-based CIOs will initiate a data transformation and governance framework to turn information into a competitive business differentiator’ (Source: IDC). By investing in a company-wide data lake and ensuring that the information housed here is secure, accessible and accurate, you can transform the way you sell and service your customers by proving that you truly know who your customers are and what they need.
When you embrace and activate data, you can deliver a more personalized and consistent customer experience and win customer loyalty for the long-term.”
Carolyn’s Recommended Resources:
- Unlock Customer Intimacy Through Big Data (Multimedia content on InFocus)
- Blog: The Search For Talented Data Experts (by Jenny Beazley, InFocus author)
The New Year brings new opportunity. If you have not yet ensured that your business strategy encompasses your CX focus, well, it’s time you do so. And if you need a little help to make your CX business case—just draw on the lessons from four of the industry’s top CX leaders—Bruce, Sean, Vele and Carolyn—who share an unwavering belief that the ultimate competitive differentiator will be the customer experience and show how a focus on emotion, CEOs needs, customer outcomes and data will win your customers in 2017 and beyond.