It's the beginning of a new year, which means it's time for pundits and prognosticators to pull out their crystal balls and make predictions about the twelve months to come.
Bruce Temkin, for example, has published his 11 Customer Experience Trends for 2016 (why 11? Presumably because it's one better than ten). He has identified such things as Journey Designing, Empathy Training, and Predictive Analytics as areas to watch, and declared that 2016 will be The Year of Emotion.
Who am I to disagree?
But in my view, such trend articles miss the bigger picture, which is that the important facts of the Customer Experience profession will be pretty much the same in 2016 as they were in 2015 and earlier years. These are the non-trends, the things that don't change, and most of them are more important than the trends.
So here I present my Customer Experience Non-Trends for 2016. Not only are most of these non-trends more important to the average CX professional than the Trends, you can read these safe in the knowledge that in January 2017 I can just republish the same article with a different date.
Non-Trend 1: Engaged Leadership Is The Single Most Important Element in CX
The companies delivering a great customer experience almost always have leadership actively engaged in continuously trying to deliver a better experience. Conversely, companies where leadership views CX as a one-time project, or something to delegate, generally don't succeed in delivering a superior experience.
The lesson here is simple: if you want to improve the customer experience in your organization, the most important thing you can do is get the senior leadership to care and make it a personal priority.
Non-Trend 2: Great CX Is About Getting a Thousand Things Right
Sweat the details. A grand strategy or a new piece of technology will not, by themselves, move the needle on your customer experience (though the right strategy and tools definitely make the job easier).
Unfortunately, "sweat the details" is not a sexy message and it doesn't help sell software and services. Many vendors make the empty promise that their solution will, by itself, transform your CX effort. Don't believe it. There is no magic bullet.
Non-Trend 3: Customer Experience Professionals Often Have a Tough Job
The field of Customer Experience has made great strides over the last decade or so, but it's still not easy. We've finally gotten to the point where most companies will at least say that the Customer Experience is a priority, but many of them have yet to internalize it. The leadership doesn't yet care enough to dedicate the needed resources, or they think that because they have a CX team the problem is solved and they can mostly ignore it.
So in a lot of places, the role of the CX professional will continue to revolve around getting leadership attention, finding the easy wins, and internal evangelism. This, unfortunately, is not likely to change any time soon.
Non-Trend 4: Great CX Drives Customer and Employee Passion, Which Creates Better CX
The sweet spot of customer experience is when your whole organization is focused on creating a better experience for customers, which makes customers want to do more business with you, and that makes employees want to help customers even more. Customer Experience becomes a positive feedback loop.
The unacknowledged truth is that most employees genuinely want to do a good job and have a positive impact on their customers. It's one of the most satisfying things we can do in our careers. A strong focus on CX creates not just more satisfied customers but also more satisfied employees.
Here's hoping for a terrific 2016!