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Customer Experience expectations for 2019

Forrester Research says many major brands will favour short-term CX goals over strategic initiatives. CCW Digital says the number one priority in 2019 will be increasing investment in digital channels.

A strategic and structural CX mismatch

It’s the time of year when pundits of all persuasions venture their predictions for what the following 12 months will bring for their particular speciality, and the customer experience industry is no exception. We’ve trawled a few of these to find out what’s coming up in 2019.

Forrester Research has a fairly pessimistic outlook. It says 20 percent of brands will give up on strategic customer experience initiatives and resort to price reduction for short-term gains.

“There is a strategic and structural mismatch between what CX needs to do and what CX is allowed to do or is capable of doing.

2019 will see that mismatch continue to play out,” Forrester says.

“Few firms will break through: most will try to make more gains in find-fix or non-disruptive enhancements — and some will panic. To put financial points on the board, some companies will return to old-school methods such as price discounting to attract customers and win on volume.”

Bad news for AI?

Forrester is also forecasting a backlash against chatbots. It says the growing prevalence of unpopular customer service chatbots will drive a movement to connect consumers to live, human agents again.

Forrester also has some bad news for fans of another new technology increasingly finding application in the delivery of customer experience: artificial intelligence (AI). It says the injection of AI into sales technologies and processes will result in rogue behaviour by some employees as they try to slip under the radar of more intelligent, AI-driven systems.

Forrester explains: “Many sales managers today have a smart tool as part of sales force automation (SFA) to analyse a salesperson’s daily activities. While AI embedded in SFA has been billed as a smart assistant that helps field sales reps do their jobs better, sales managers will use AI capabilities to micromanage reps and, in some cases, justify firing underperformers. Consultative sellers will fight back by inputting garbage data to either hide their tracks or game the machine learning system.”

CCW Digital surveyed customer experience, contact centre, marketing, customer care, IT and operations professionals in Q3 2018. It reported: “The most widespread [CX] priority involves increasing investment into digital channels. Nearly 47 percent of organisations say they plan to expand their digital capabilities in 2019.”

Voice stands the test of time

Other popular priorities for 2019 include improving the knowledge base (44 percent), customer journey mapping and orchestration (39 percent), coaching agents on making “connections” (37 percent), and using artificial intelligence for process automation (36 percent).

CCW Digital adds: “The interest in improving digital channels coincides with the goal of adding a human factor to historically ‘low-touch’ environments. Few organisations offer a ‘full service’ experience within their digital channels, and many are looking to change that reality. They want to inject deeper engagement into their digital channels, making them more personal, more conversational, more resolute and, ultimately, more valuable.”

And despite all the emphasis on chatbots, digital channels etc, respondents are still backing voice.

“The top investment area for 2019 will be the voice channel,” CCW Digital said.

“Nearly 60 percent view investments into live agent telephony as a priority. Other top focuses include live chat (49 percent), email (47 percent), virtual queue solutions (42 percent), and social media engagement (38 percent).”

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