CX & NPS® Trends for 2020 - Influencers Edition

Over the last half-decade the customer experience and Net Promoter Score® industry trends has changed as we know it. Customers have become increasingly empowered with technology and now demand a highly personalized and frictionless customer experience that meets their needs and expectations. In order to keep customer satisfaction and loyalty to a high standard, NPS® has become the metric and system of choice for many of the world’s most customer-centric and renowned brands.

By 2020, however, the CX & NPS industry is bound to change. So, what can organizations expect and do in order to create a winning customer experience in the future? We turned to some of world’s most influential CX & NPS thought leaders to find answers on what trends businesses need to keep an eye on.

Here are several “predictions” to consider as we move into 2020.

When it comes to customer service and CX, customers are smarter than ever before – and their expectations are higher. And, this will continue. More and more companies are promising a great CX. And, some of them deliver. They are the ones that set the bar high for everyone else. When the customer is told the experience will be great, and it is, they expect it to be great all the time—with everyone they do business with. Therefore, a company is no longer compared to another company in the same industry. They are compared to whoever gave the customer the best experience.

The end result of customer service or CX is the same. We want our customers to be happy enough that they will not only return, but hopefully share positive messages about us with their friends and colleagues. What has changed is how we get there. There are multiple ways for us to interact with our customers; phone, email, social channels, etc. The problem comes when there is an inconsistent experience between channels. Most businesses refer to multiple channels. To the customer, it’s just one channel: a connection to the business. We must understand the expectation and deliver on it.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a hot topic. It will improve to a point, but will not completely replace a human. We can expect chat bots to take care of the lower level needs, like a change of address, but the higher level will put the customer in the “safe hands” of a knowledgeable support rep. In the near future, we will see AI giving support to the rep who is helping a customer. That is when, as Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, says, “AI becomes IA, the Intelligent Assistant.”

P.S. Shep Hyken is also author of a number of customer service bestselling books like “The Amazement Revolution”, “The Cult of the Customer,” “The Loyal Customer,” and “Amaze Every Customer Every Time.”

Shep Hyken also hosted CustomerGauge’s CEO Adam Dorrell in his Amazing Business Radio, discussing how to monetize a Net Promoter System®.


After these last few charmed years, CX practitioners will come under pressure to justify the value of their CX programs. The CFOs of big corporations will begin to question if large investments in CX (which produced mediocre results) are worth continuing. As a result, those CX professionals that can’t prove that their efforts grew the overall business will struggle to justify their existence.

At the same time, major telecommunication, energy suppliers and finance companies won’t maximize their CX efforts if they continue to encourage “customer promiscuity”. They still spend the majority of marketing and sales spend on offers to encourage switching to win customer acquisition. So, until retention becomes as important as acquisition, CX will be an “also ran”. CFOs take note: growth can come from existing customers as well as new.

Looking ahead, I believe CX is destined to become just a mundane part of the basic fabric of companies. I remember the first CRM boom back in the 90’s. Companies used to have a “Department of CRM”.  Where are they now? Absorbed into sales! CX pros: meet your new boss – Chief Revenue Officer.


I suspect I will not be alone in believing that one of most important upcoming trends is the ever-increasing significance of EMOTION in the experiences we have as customers. Whilst the way an experience makes us FEEL has always been an integral component that defines all experiences, as technology advances in line with consumers’ ability to access it and use it, the effect of positive and negative emotion will continue to gather pace.

We only have to see what is happening to the airline industry – United, Qantas and now Emirates have all been seriously affected by negative publicity in the last month – all driven by experiences not just falling short of meeting customer expectations, but revealing the true ‘horror’ some companies are inflicting on their customers.

If brands want to succeed in sustainably focusing on CX in the next couple of years, they must change the mindset of all employees to be consciously aware of emotion and the way they are making customers feel.


It’s hard to talk about trends when there are still so many companies who need to get the basics right. For example, while companies are listening to their customers, they aren’t necessarily acting on the feedback. Or they’re so focused on the metric that they overlook what customers are actually telling them.

In order to advance their improvement efforts, companies must:

(1) Map the customer journey to truly understand the customer experience and to identify where the experience is breaking down.

(2) Inventory and centralize customer data; I know this is no easy task, but without centralizing data, it’s going to be difficult to glean the robust insights necessary to make real change to the experience, e.g., personalizing it, reducing customer effort, etc.

Closely tied to that last point is the need to heed the evolution of analytics, shifting from the current descriptive and diagnostic analyses (and quad charts that simply paralyze users into inaction) to predictive, prescriptive, and eventually automated analyses. With these latter analyses, companies will get clear and relevant insights tied to business and customer outcomes in a manner that will help drive action much quicker than ever before.

 

 


Customers don’t have time to fill out your surveys–so how are you going to get a full view of your customer? Now companies can use data to accompany the customer feedback they get. The data is pulled from multiple sources so not only do you have your NPS score, but you get the other missing pieces about your customer’s experience without bothering the customer. Some call this master data, third party data that can link up data as well as clean up and supplement your data to provide a 360-degree view of the customer.

P.S. Blake Morgan recently published her latest book – More Is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Experiences


We all agree—especially us CX people—that businesses must focus on improving customer experiences in the increasingly commoditized world. Still, many invest in CX but forget that the real purpose is to reduce churn, grow customer advocacy and eventually increase sales and revenues. For instance, an NPS study from 2016 revealed that 40% of companies with a Net Promoter program didn’t measure churn rates. And only 30% could prove that their program reduced churn or maintained an already low churn rate. For some reason, it seems that companies believe that CX success is simply measured with metrics like CSAT and NPS.

Bain & Co.’s reports on Management Tool and Trends from the previous 6 years show that the use of satisfaction and loyalty management as a strategic tool has decreased despite a continuous high interest. Since executives look for a return on their strategic investments, it is obvious to conclude that the CX industry has failed to (consistently) provide this. So, will it be a trend in the next couple of years to focus a lot more on the financial return of CX? In my opinion, it’s about time.

P.S. Jørgen Bo Christensen recently wrote a white paper on The Next Generation Net Promoter Score -How to Monetize a Net Promoter System® and Create Profitable Growth. Definitely worth a read!


The #1 customer experience trend you need to pay attention to is this:

Consciously or unconsciously, customers continue to expect a better and better experience–in every industry, every niche, at every price point. These expectations don’t come out of the blue. Customers expect you to provide better customer service because they’re already getting better customer service elsewhere. Whether customer service has been improving in your particular competitive niche or not, it has improved over time at so many companies with such broad consumer reach, including Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and multiple great B2B, financial services, and professional services providers, not to mention the great hotels and restaurants that serve so many of your customers every day.

After one of these companies comes into contact with a customer of yours, it’s inevitable that your customer is going to expect friendlier, speedier, more intuitive service from your company as well.

 

P.S. Micah Solomon is a frequent contributor to Forbes and a bestselling author of  several books, including Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization and Your Customer is The Star.


One trend that stands out to me for the next few years is a focus on the emotional customer—the idea of understanding how customer irrationality and subconscious decision-making are influencing customer experiences.. As our understanding deepens in this area, we are finding that small inputs to the customer experience can have outsized impacts. We are also learning the extent to which customer self-reporting through surveys and other measurement instruments can be misleading. It will be fascinating to see how this focus on customer emotion and psychology will impact the use and practice of NPS. Either way, as our understanding of neuroscience and psychology continues to expand, the impetus to focus on the emotional/intuitive/irrational nature of customers becomes greater every day.

P.S. Adam Toporek is also the author of Be Your Customer’s Hero, which is used by organizations across the world to train their customer service teams.

 


Human centered design, or the discipline of rebuilding what the company does to deliver desired experiences. Also the evolution of the CMO role to expand to CX discipline

P.S. Jeanne Bliss is also the author of Chief Customer Officer and frequently writes articles on how businesses can approach their customer experience transformation programs.


More companies will be digging into what actually drives NPS for their customers and will be surprised to learn that many of the things they’d long assumed to be critical to building customer loyalty actually have little to no bearing on it. In my experience, working with companies that have done this work, one of the big drivers that tends to emerge is that a company is easy to do business with across the entire life cycle of the customer relationship. These companies have realized that to truly distinguish themselves from their competitors, they need to offer a frictionless experience–from the purchase to how the product fits into the customer’s daily life to supporting the customer when the product doesn’t work as anticipated.

P.S. Matthew Dixon is a co-author of the bestselling book “The Effortless Experience”. Matt introduced the concept that companies need to focus on reducing the “effort” factor for customers before delighting them.


I think there are a number of trends/conversations that are shaping the future of CX (and not all of them in a good way). These include:

  • Emotion in CX and if you can design for it, control it, measure it or whether you should be just aware of it and concentrate on helping customers achieve the things that they want to achieve.

  • Friction in CX and whether a frictionless experience should be the ultimate goal. Or, is there such a thing as good friction and bad friction?

  • The balance of tech and the human touch in CX, where many firms are now realizing they may have over done their investments in technology as their customers start to complain ever louder that they value and want the human touch at certain times.

  • The application of analytics to big data and the fact that big data and insight can only take you so far. As Alfred Korzybski, the Polish-American general semantics scholar, once said: “The map is not the territory”.

P.S. Adrian Swinscoe is also the author of a new book called How To Wow, full of practical tips, inspiring insights and interviews with a wide range of leaders and entrepreneurs.


Customers will demand all experiences, regardless of how complex or complicated the product or service is, live up to a seamless and personalized experience for each customer. This means those organizations who haven’t yet considered how to simplify the customer journey have serious catching up to do today to prepare for tomorrow. Experiences like applying for a home mortgage or buying a car are still cumbersome and not focused on customers. Those “simple” experiences of today, like buying an item in a store, should be simplified to avoid anything frustrating to customers, including how to find items or not having a seamless experience to transfer between the in-store experience and a mobile experience. Even recognizing a customer from one location to the next, regardless of if it’s offline or online, should be a critical point of innovation for any customer-centric organization moving forward.


I see AI, chatbots and text analytics as emergent technology trends that will shape the future of CX & NPS. I do know that the one trend from which most companies could gain the greatest value in the next 12 months: using feedback to improve their business. 85% of companies spend their time collecting and analyzing feedback but only 15% use it to drive change. Lean or simple TQM (Total Quality Management) methodologies are the most effective techniques for converting feedback into action. So, the most effective trend would be applying Lean methodologies to customer feedback to create incremental business value.


One top CX trend to watch is the continued debate over whether customers prefer less human interaction w/ providers or more. The truth lies in the details of generations as well as customer need at the time of engagement.


The main trend I believe will shape the future of NPS and CX is the emergence of accurate Natural Language Processing software. Once we can analyze large volumes of text in many languages, there will be no need to ask customers to answer long lists of questions. We can be confident that their answers about why the like (or dislike) us, and their improvement suggestions will give us everything we need to know. I believe the main reason long questionnaires exist today is the lack of great text analysis software. Companies like Thematic and SAS have shown that it can be done. I expect it to be become quite pervasive by the end of the year.

P.S. Maurice FitzGerald is also the author of three books on NPS and customer experience strategy. You can find them all here.

 


Some words to the wise:
-Nobody Gets Customer Experience Right The First Time
-It’s a Cultural Revolution in Your Company
-Treat it as an Customer-Centric Evolution
-You Will Continuously Keep getting Better at it
-Make sure you have an Operationalized and Sustainable process with a social feedback loop


Take your knowledge even further! One of our thought leaders, Jørgen Bo Christensen from CustomerGauge has written a white paper that covers what is next for the Net Promoter Score system. Instead of just measuring your NPS score, the white paper explains how you can derive a financial impact for your business by linking NPS to revenue and retention. A definite must-read! Download below!

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Written by Cvetilena Gocheva

Cvetilena is the Digital Community Manager behind NPSBenchmarks.com. Her role is to help more businesses become aware of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, the means it offers to drive growth forward and the importance of benchmarking. She discovered her passion for community engagement while working in a start-up in the UK. Cvetilena has now moved to Amsterdam and spends most of her free time riding her new bike and exploring the city.

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