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Forrester reveals its customer experience predictions for 2013

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11th Jan 2013
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This year, and for several years to come, the customer experience industry will be dominated by efforts that "range wildly from systematic change initiatives to desperate shortcuts."

So says analyst house Forrester in its report, 2013 Customer Experience Predictions, which highlights the changes that customer experience professionals can expect in 2013 and outlined the pitfalls that companies need to avoid during the upcoming year.

During the last 12 months, customer experience was transformed into strategic stature and became a top corporate objective. The field of customer experience also matured as a business discipline in 2013, says Forrester, with a growing community of practitioners and industry conferences.

2012 also saw major media outlets begin to take notice of customer experience issues – such as the Samsung Galaxy v Apple iPad patents case – whilst tech vendors pushed to align themselves with the customer experience buzz, the most notable example being Oracle.

So what can the industry expect for 2013?

“All of the aforementioned hoopla may lead some industry watchers to assume that the field of customer experience (CX) has finally attained the standing of finance, human resources, or IT as business disciplines that most companies wouldn’t dare to omit from their organizations. In reality, it will be years before customer experience is embedded to that degree,” says the report.

Whilst the field of customer experience saw some maturation last year, the vast majority of businesses are still only “dabbling” and have yet to maximise its full potential, resulting in widly varying maturity levels over the next decade, according to the forecast. 

Additionally, the analyst firm predicsd that serious CX players will make highly targeted and well-structured investments in 2013 in a bid to differentiate themselves and imitate innovators such as Apple, Disney and Zappos.com.

These early adopters will evolve their organisations into well-oiled CX machines, said Forrester, and predicted that:

  • Ecosystem maps will be the new journey maps
  • Customer experience and business process professionals will become best friends
  • Customer experience professionals will chase employee engagement; 
  • And firms will pay a premium for scarce talent as they ramp up hiring.

In 2013, those companies that are such neither early nor late adopters but caught in the mainstream will “walk precariously on the edge that separates serious customer experience initiatives from shortsighted one-off projects,” notes the report. As a result, these firms will be vigilantly monitoring their projects as well as working to gain the support from senior management.

Determined to stay ahead of the pack, Forrester predicted these firms will look for ways to understand customers on a completely different level, and expects to see: 

  • Emotional insights to take center stage; 
  • And co-creation will dislodge more traditional research techniques

In terms of late adopters, this year they will start to realise how far behind they are, says the report. Faced with messages about the importance of customer experience from event producers, tech vendors and the media, these firms will attempt to leverage customer experience to address growth or customer retention issues.

“But just like someone who wants to get thin by taking a pill or get rich by buying a lottery ticket, many of these companies will eschew the hard work required for customer experience initiatives and instead look for quick fixes,” says Forrester.

For this group, the analyst house forecasted that:

  • Mobile newbies will skate by on responsive design
  • Interactive agencies will pretend to be service design firms
  • Persona and journey map groupies will skip foundational qualitative research
  • Quant geeks will prioritize big data over big insights;
  • And marketers will mistake messaging for experience improvements

Forrester concluded with a list of recommendation firms must take if they want to accelerate their customer experience efforts in 2013:

  • Determine their current level of customer experience maturity.
  • Get their entire organisation involved, fortify themselves for a technology vendor onslaught.
  • And invest in people and new methodologies.

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