It’s a funny thing, trying to predict the future. You can argue there’s not much point to it, and you may well be right, but at this time of year, there’s a strange temptation to give it a go anyway. Fear not, I’m not going to try to predict huge geopolitical events or the winner of the 2019 World Wife Carrying championship (it’s real, look it up). I’ll leave those arenas to the experts. I would, however, like to share my thoughts on what changes the customer experience (CX) world is likely to experience over the coming year.

CX is due a bit of a reboot. It has absolutely moved beyond being a niche sub-set of marketing or customer service, but a focus on chasing metrics and gathering ever-greater stacks of data have become a distraction that have prevented CX professionals from proving business value and securing future investment. Here’s what I think (hope) will change in 2019.

  1. Technology will not replace human decision making: AI and other forms of automation offer huge opportunity, but the hype that our jobs are all under threat is nonsense. In 2019, technology will continue to augment human decision making, not replace it – nor should it. There’s a mind-boggling amount of data out there now, but data is stupid – it only knows what it knows. People are vital when it comes to understanding and prioritizing CX improvement our focus must be in ensuring that our stakeholders can make better business decisions based on robust facts.

  2. There’ll be a shift from measuring metrics to monitoring action: At least – I hope so! CX has been buried in chasing metrics for far too long now. Increasingly, though, CX teams are under pressure to demonstrate results, and while that’s scary, it’s a good thing. Smart CX teams will start working with stakeholders to initiate change programs and monitor their impact. Ideas like nudge theory will help, as will improvements in technology that help define the best action to take.

  3. Smart CX teams will move beyond the customer: CX is not – despite the name – just about customers. Our role is to drive business success by identifying the best opportunities for improvement. Yes, the Voice of the Customer is critical, but companies need to really focus on other data sources – from partners, suppliers, employees and more. And they will get better at mapping data to create that ever-elusive 360 degree view. Only the leaders in the field will get there any time soon, but silos will be – one day – a thing of the past.

  4. Connect, don’t collect: There’s a growing understanding that CX is not the same as sending endless surveys. Finally! Organizations hold an enormous amount of information about customers and the smart ones will get better at connecting that data to understand more without asking questions. Yes, it’s hard, but that’s no reason to shy away and settle for another survey. What we will see on the data collection front is a growth in customers being prepared to share feedback through video. It won’t be mainstream in 2019, but there will be movement.

  5. A shifting role for CX teams: CX is no longer a niche role, but the evolution must continue. Successful customer experience professionals will position themselves as the “CX coach” within their companies. Standalone CX departments simply add another silo which is the last thing any business needs! The time has come for CX experts to advise, guide and support other teams by providing the insight they need to take action to make smarter decisions and faster actions.

  6. CX as a discipline will continue to become established: We’re already seeing a growth in education and certification around CX as a particular discipline. This is great news for both newcomers to the industry, and more experienced hands looking for a way to evidence their knowledge. 2019 will see continued growth in this area, with both industry bodies and universities offering courses that complement other marketing and operational disciplines.

What do you think? Am I spot on? Or are these the ramblings of a woman who’s had one too many conversations about surveys and metrics over the last year? Tweet me your thoughts at @ClaireSporton or @Confirmit.

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