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Carbone Pine

What are the pioneers of CX predicting for 2023?

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They've been at the vanguard of the customer experience movement for decades, and now Joe Pine and Lou Carbone share their CX expectations for the coming year. 

18th Jan 2023
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What do you get when you put three old guys in front of microphones and ask them to talk about one of their favorite subjects? An authoritative view on just about anything. However, with three pioneers of  customer experience involved, we have an authoritative view on the topic and predictions about what’s happening next. 

I recently hosted some special guests on the podcast to discuss what 2023 will look like in the customer experience space. My guests are Lou Carbone, author of Clued In, and Joe Pine, who wrote The Experience Economy. Here's what they had to say.

Carbone says that experience is at an exciting but critical point. Customer experience is a mess; customers are not civil or patient, and everyone uses the COVID copout to explain their less-than-optimal experience. 

Carbone believes there will be a rise in distinctive qualitative research and design. He says organisations will move to explore how people think about experiences. The CEO is the chief experience officer. They see that living by numbers and metrics will not provide the big-picture vision that CEOs need. 

Pine believes physical experiences are coming back fully to pre-pandemic levels. People will go back to movies, back to theme parks, and back to travel. (Plus, he jokes that every dead artist that ever existed will have an immersive experience, and every live artist will issue an NFT.)

For my part, inflation is changing customer behavior, particularly in Europe. As you know, I travel between the states and the UK a lot, and you can see the effects of rising prices on things like electricity use. Even my kids wear jumpers in their homes because they don't want to turn on the heat. After all, heating oil has gone up by 300%. Worse,  some people in the UK choose between heating or eating because the prices are so bad. 

Therefore, we are at an inflection point. In the future, we will look back on 2023 and go, "Yeah, that's when things changed."

What has happened in years past

Consider the following data:

  • The American Customer Satisfaction Index has been at its lowest point for 17 years. 
  • From 2010 to 2019, two-thirds of organisations did not improve their customer satisfaction, while all the effort went into improving customer experience. 
  • Forrester predicted that one out of every five people in customer experience would lose their job in the next year. 

It predicts a tipping point when you take all these things and look at them together. So for me, customer experience is going to tip toward customer science. (Joe dislikes this use of the word "science." He says every time you have to put a word in front of the word science, it's not science.)

Customer science is where you combine artificial intelligence (AI), behavioural science, and customer data to gain insights into customer behavior. Just like CRM (customer relationship management) systems became part of business management, customer experience will become part of customer science. As a result, customer science will drive the future of customer strategy.

Moreover, the practice of customer experience management is starting to earn recognition. Carbone was recently appointed faculty of practice at MSU with the first Master of Science degree in customer experience management, which could portend a new respect for this management discipline. It could mean that customer experience management will no longer be its solo wave but part of the more considerable management experience. 

Carbone sees this as an acceptance that experience management is essential to the business. People have realised that experience is the ultimate value proposition of the organisation. As a result, people will increasingly see experience management as a fundamental discipline integral to an organisation's success. 

Pine agrees that the CEO should be the chief experience officer. His career started at IBM, and he remembers the total quality management days. However, the concept that everyone must pursue high standards in every part of the organisation has been absorbed into business management. Now, TQM is just part of the job, so total quality management doesn't get a focus anymore. While Pine doesn't think we are there yet with customer experience, he also sees things shifting in that direction. 

That said, customer experience is still broken today. The pandemic broke a lot of stuff, and many organisations are not even fixing it. Instead, they blame their poor experience on it. 

Pine says it's time to shift from fixing the broken things and figure out why they broke. He compares it to selecting a car. If there is a problem with toxins in the exhaust and you only fix the exhaust, you will still have a problem. However, the toxins will return if the engine isn't working well. It's the same with customer experience. You have to fix the problem with the experience engine. 

Going back to the stats I shared, where only a third of organisations improved their customer satisfaction scores from 2010 to 2019, I wonder if we were dealing with something similar to the exhaust. So many organisations jumped into improving their experience but needed to know what they were doing. So, they fixed the exhaust, got tired of dealing with it, and moved on. 

However, this year those organisations that believe in the power of customer experience should attempt to fix it. The other two-thirds shouldn't bother. They would need to commit to improving the customer experience engine, and that’s unlikely based on their performance thus far. So, instead of feeling discouraged about the two-thirds, I should be excited about the one-third. 

So, what should you do with this next year?

Along those lines, here are some things you should focus on in the experience next year. 

In the new year, the key is remembering you are in it to produce something for the organisation. If you're not doing it, you don't deserve to have a job. It's as simple as that. 

Carbone feels that there's an examination of consciousness for CEOS and leadership of organisations:

  1. They have to make a commitment or forget about it.
  2. They should decide if the money they spend on experience creates value.
  3. Finally, they need to determine if they are open-minded enough to continue to drive the experience movement forward. 

Pine says that some organisations have a business model that wastes people's time. However, making an experience that is time well invested is the way to create the kind of experience that becomes a part of themselves. Pine encourages more organisations to consider how they are investing in experiences that come across as time well invested. 

He recommends repeatedly using the old TQM technique of asking five whys to do this. Then, ask why until you get down to some core aspiration. Is that core aspiration something with which you could help? And if so, will that be valuable to your customers? Are they willing to pay you for that and come back to you again for that? Pine says you'll find that often the answer is yes. There are tremendous opportunities to go beyond what you do today to create more value for your customers and, therefore, more value for your company.

So, it will be a big year of changes in experience for 2023. We hope that this has been helpful for you as you look ahead to your customer strategy. 

Did you know we have a YouTube Channel, too? Check it out here.

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