2014 wasn't a good year to be average. Since 2007, the average customer experience in the industries that Forrester tracks has gone up across the board, and the number of truly awful experiences has dropped like a rock. So if your CX is average, it's just not good enough to win, serve, and retain customers. And it won't get any easier next year: With companies investing more than ever to differentiate their customer experience, your average offering will soon be considered poor.
In 2015, the race from good to great CX will hit the gas pedal. Smart CX teams will increasingly use customer data from diverse sources like social listening platforms, campaign management platforms, mobile apps, and loyalty programs to personalize and tailor experiences in real time so that they inherently adapt to the needs, wants, and behaviors of individual customers. And as companies strive to break from the pack and gain a competitive edge through the quality of the CX they provide, we'll see the battleground shift to new areas like emotional experiences and extended CX ecosystems, and into laggard industries like health insurance and TV service providers, and even the Federal government.
As we do every year, we've just published our predictions report for CX. I want to share a couple of those predictions with you:
*Companies will buy into emotion...literally. Our latest research shows that emotion has a bigger impact on customer loyalty than either ease or effectiveness. And so in the shadows of Deloitte's purchase of Doblin and Accenture's acquisition of Fjordnet, expect a land grab for design agencies that can provide emotional intelligence. In 2015, the likes of Bain, McKinsey, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers will compete to snap up firms like Continuum, Livework, and Nunn. And the prices on these deals will reach some dizzying heights. Why? The consultancies will have to bid against aspiring CX leaders like Delta Air Lines and Verizon that want to match Capital One's recent bold move to acquire Adaptive Path.
*Upstarts will redefine CX Ecosystems, forcing established companies to raise their game. Entrenched players will continue to be whipsawed by new firms taking innovative approaches to ecosystems in the markets they enter, whether it be media darlings like Airbnb (their ingenuity cost hotels more than $800 million in lost revenue last year), or trailblazers like TransferWise which has redefined the ecosystem for currency trading by allowing people to transfer money abroad at 1/10th the price many banks charge (and has already helped customers make more than $1 billion in FX transfers). To keep up, look for more companies to buy or invest in ecosystem underminers, such as General Electric did when it put $30 million into idea-crowdsourcer Quirky, and BMW iVentures did with its stake in online parking marketplace ParkatmyHouse.
Also in 2015, after years of false starts and mishaps, we expect to see the U.S. federal government's embrace of CX begin to show results. Read more about our government CX predictions or see all the 2015 Predictions reports that Forrester is publishing.
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About the author:
Michael Gazala is a Vice President and Research Director at Forrester Research.