Customer experience will see some significant gains in 2013, but, according to a new report from Forrester, those gains will be primarily achieved by a small group of enterprises that have seriously dedicated themselves to the field.
2012 – The Year of the Surge
In one good sign of the general state of customer experience, Forrester says 2012 saw a “surge” in customer experience activity. This is from the report, "2013 Customer Experience Predictions." To support this assertion, Forrester cites statistics from an IBM study of more than 1,700 CEOs that indicate 66% of participants consider customer relations as a key source of sustained economic value and 73% are investing heavily in customer insights. Forrester also notes increased media coverage of customer experience issues as well as growth in customer experience conferences and releases of customer experience solutions by leading IT vendors such as Oracle and Lithium.
Despite the surge of 2012, Forrester says most organizations are still “dabbling” in customer experience, or have not yet recognized its importance. CXM doesn't have the standing of other business disciplines such as finance or HR. Thus, Forrester expects a small group of early adopters to “double down” on customer experience investments to increase their competitive differentiation in 2013, while mainstream companies will waver between dabbling and more serious initiatives and late adopters will panic and seek “quick fixes” with little chance of success.
In the coming year, customer experience leaders will expand their usage of customer journey maps, going beyond simply tracking steps in the buying process and creating “ecosystem maps” that connect the customer journey to the enterprise. In creating this broader customer experience ecosystem, professionals will align their efforts with business process improvement standards such as Lean and Six Sigma. They will also seek to better engage employees in providing top-notch customer experience. This increased focus will create a plethora of high-paying jobs in this field.
Forrester expects both early adopters and more serious mainstream enterprises to dig for deeper customer insights. Solutions that provide insight into the emotional state of the customer, including subconscious responses to products and services, will become more common. In addition, companies will engage in “co-creation,” or face-to-face collaboration among customers, employees and partners, to help reveal insights not obtainable via surveys and focus groups.
Shortcuts to Nowhere
As mentioned above, Forrester expects late customer experience adopters to turn to shortcuts in hopes to catch up. As is typically the case, shortcuts will prove a poor substitute for putting in hard work and research. Popular shortcuts Forrester expects to provide poor or non-existent results during 2013 include relying exclusively on responsive design to create an optimal online customer experience, using unqualified interactive agencies to take the place of specialized service design agencies, applying tools like personas and journey maps without the necessary supporting research, prioritizing the collection of “Big Data” over obtaining actual insights and investing in positive messaging rather than in actually improving the customer experience.
Acceleration Beats Shortcuts
Forrester advises organizations that want to become customer experience leaders during 2013 to accelerate their efforts without taking shortcuts. Specifically, Forrester recommends determining your enterprise’s customer experience maturity (actual capabilities and expertise as opposed to tenure), involving every part of the organization in providing an optimal customer experience and preparing for a “technology vendor onslaught” by developing a list of internal priorities a solution must meet.