Customer Experience In Crisis

WARC recently called customer experience (CX) a “key battleground for 2018”. But there are signs the gap between what’s expected and what’s delivered is widening. So what’s going on here? What’s driving this disconnect? And what should you be doing about it? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.


  • At the beginning of last year, Forrester predicted a strong “next phase” for the CX practice. A year later, they’re calling out a significant stall in progress—as measured by their CX index. They predict further declines this year for all but the most dedicated, committed firms.
  • So what’s causing the decline? Forrester analyst Ryan Hart points to shifting customer attitudes, specifically rising expectations and a general decline in trust exacerbated by “false and misleading statements from executives”. In other words, the bar that defines a great experience is getting higher.
  • Smith+Co’s Shaun Smith highlights a different root cause—a growing obsession with quick wins and superficial tactics that’s preoccupying leaders and overshadowing the real work of delivering true value to customers.
  • Both of these things are true. Customers are expecting more and trusting less. And bright shiny things are alluring and distracting. But we think there’s a simpler reason for stalled progress: this shit ain’t easy.
  • For example, collecting customer data and feedback is not difficult, but turning it into focused action most definitely is.

  • Speaking of data, a recent survey by the User Testing Blog indicates a growing worry among many CX practitioners that too much focus is being put on quantitative data: “Quantitative data tells you what customers are doing, but insights take that data a step further to explain why they’re doing it.”
  • The heart of the challenge, though, goes deeper than data. Ultimately, delivering a great customer experience requires internal alignment across functional silos. James Dodkins sums the problem up this way: “The biggest challenge will be trying to meet all of these new customer demands within industrial age organisation structures.”
  • The bottom line: closing the CX gap must begin with an acknowledgment of the depth and complexity of the challenge, backed by full executive support and true cross-functional alignment. Delivering on the promise of CX isn’t about quick wins, collecting mounds of data or playing with AI. Instead it’s about, to quote McKinsey, “redesigning the business from the customer back.”



Issue #39
Mar 4, 2018

Further Reading