3 CX predictions for 2020 that didn't quite happen
Making predictions is a popular practice for thought leaders, research firms, and industry blogs across sectors. Predictions can be exciting, they can be comforting, and they tend to attract clicks and traffic, because we all feel compelled to look forward. But how often do we retrospectively go back and check whether they were right or not?
I thought it would be interesting to look back at three of the strongest predictions of how customer experience would look by 2020 and compare them with reality today. I found a range of accuracy between these predictions and their realities, demonstrating that, despite their appeal, we should always take these kinds of forecasts with a pinch of salt.
1. “By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse” – Gartner (2016)
This was a pretty ambitious prediction to make back in 2016, when chatbots weren’t nearly as common as they are today. Maybe the person who made this prediction really liked chatbots, or maybe they just really didn’t like their spouse. Either way, I would hope this prediction isn’t true for anyone.
That’s not to say that chatbots aren’t an important part of customer experience today. The use of chatbots has increased dramatically since Gartner’s prediction, and will likely continue to do so.
In August last year, the “State of Service” survey examined the use of chatbots amongst customer service professionals. 23% were then using AI chatbots, and a further 31% planned to introduce them within 18 months. This amounts to a 136% growth rate, demonstrating a belief in the effectiveness of chatbots. Indeed, chatbots have been proven to help customer experience executives focus on other tasks while making sure every customer gets a quick response.
So, while we’re hopefully never going to speak to chatbots more than our spouses, it’s likely many of us will be talking to more of them in the coming months.
2. “Customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020” – Walker (2016)
When Walker made this prediction back in 2016, customer experience was really just at the beginning of its boom, and this was a fairly bold claim to make.
So how accurate has this prediction been? SuperOffice recently reported that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a product or service if great customer experience accompanies it.
This is further emphasised in a report from PWC, which finds that customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% for luxury services, just because of a great customer experience.
Companies are well aware of the impact of customer experience, and the majority now compete on this basis over price or product. In 2010, only 36% of companies competed primarily through customer experience. This number has risen to more than two-thirds in the last few years and will soon rise to 81%, finds Gartner.
3. “Personalisation will help drive customer loyalty” – Forbes (2017)
Whether this prediction came true is arguable. We all know that the ability of companies to adapt customer experiences based on the wants and needs of individuals is important. In some cases, personalisation has been proven to drive customer loyalty.
Research from The Loyalty Report showed that, of 28,000 customers, 79% of would only consider brands that show they care about them as an individual. Additionally, 56% of customers said they are loyal to brands that deeply understand their priorities and preferences.
However, the same report also showed that only 25% of customers are satisfied with the level of personalisation they’re currently receiving from customer experience. With this in mind, it’s clear most companies aren’t using personalisation effectively. If this many customers aren’t satisfied with their experience as individuals, can personalisation really be considered as a major decision maker for customers?
Looking at the future of personalisation, a recent 2020 trends report from Ecosystm presents the possibility that businesses will be improving their activities this year. Personalisation technologies will move from the top web brands to the mass market, and more companies will deploy hyper-personalised customer experience. It’s important to consider, though, that hyper-personalisation isn’t possible without customer journey analytics. To personalise effectively, businesses need a deep understanding of the end-to-end journeys of each of their customers.
These speculations on the future of personalisation present more predictions we should be keeping an eye on.
The state of customer experience in 2020
While not all of these predictions have come true yet, I think it’s safe to say digital transformation will continue to shape customer experience in 2020.
Blake Morgan, keynote speaker and author of several books on customer experience, summarises: “As we enter a new decade, customer experience is firmly positioned as a competitive advantage and something most companies are prioritising. It’s never been more important to deliver a consistent, seamless experience for customers and to look towards the future to find innovative ways to meet their needs.”