Is 2018 crunch time for CX?
As the year closes, it is common to speculate on what will be the key trends that will impact us in the new year. The AMI’s prediction series is case in point: the series proved very popular with a wave of varying and provocative predictions offered up by the expert panels across the various states and territories.
Whilst attending the NSW prediction event, I was asked (as someone who advises clients in customer-centric strategy) where do I see customer experience (CX) going in 2018? Is it going to plateau or thrive?
Let me preface my response by re-stating that today’s customers have high expectations of the day-to-day experiences they receive from any business they choose to deal with. Customers today are savvier, better educated, have greater choice and are more demanding. And when organisations fail to deliver against expectations customers will and do, take flight. Rapidly evolving customer expectations have the potential to dramatically impact many organisations in 2018 – both positively or negatively.
Plateau or thrive? Well, it depends on how business leaders view customer centricity and CX in the context of their core strategy.
In my experience, there are few organisarions in Australia that have truly embraced customer centricity as central to its business and strategy. Customer centricity is fundamental to delivering outstanding CX consistently (whilst being responsive to evolving customer demands).
Many organisations point to CX success through tackling (what can only be described as) the low hanging fruit. But then it all runs out of steam. Why? Because they do not have the absolute commitment required to make the transformation to a customer-centric business.
An observation is that many businesses have appointed CX Managers but provided them with little power to impact the degree of transformation required to move the organisation towards being truly customer focused. I’m reluctant to say this could be considered a mark of ‘tokenism’, but I do have empathy for those managers that have been put into a CX role without the ability to drive any meaningful operational change. Why does this occur? I’d suggest it’s a reflection of the immaturity of many businesses when it comes to CX. In my experience, most businesses in Australia are in their infancy when it comes to customer centricity and CX: those that fully grasp it will prosper whilst the gap between those that continue to wander down the same pathway (of low hanging fruit and slow change) will struggle to succeed.
I was interested to note the findings of Forester’s 2017 CX Index “ CX quality has declined or plateaued in 2017. In 2018, 30% of companies will see a further decline in CX performance and those declines will translate into a net loss of a point of growth”.
Will 2018 see CX thrive in Australia?
In my view, not unless we see some significant movement: customer centricity must be at the heart of business strategy and receive the focus and resourcing to drive significant cultural and operational change. As Forrester puts it: (the risk is) “too many executives will continue to ignore evidence of market disruption and procrastinate until evidence is overwhelming, putting their firms at risk as we enter 2019”.
The question is: can your business afford to ignore the evidence in 2018?
Let me sign-off by thanking our CEO, Lee Tonitto, and her team on an outstanding job this past year; and to my fellow Board members, a job well was done. I’d also like to welcome our new co-opted Board members Peter Griffin and Mona Lolas, and welcome back to Marco Cicchine. I look forward to your contribution to the Board in 2018.
I wish to also thank all of our members, and the wider marketing fraternity, for your support in 2017. Without your support, there is no AMI. My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a safe and happy Festive Season and I look forward to your continued support in 2018.
Andrew Thornton, Chair, AMI Board of Directors