It’s once again the time of year for me to publish my CX trends. In my post last year, I named 2014 “The Year of Empathy.” With this post, I’m declaring 2015 “The Year of the Employee.”
We’ve recently seen a surge in the number of companies looking to build more customer-centric cultures and train their people on CX. Voice of the employee efforts are becoming an integral component of modern voice of the customer programs. Taken together, this new emphasis on culture, training, and Voice of the Employee will put employees at the center of CX attention this year
Although I published 13 CX trends for 2013 and 14 CX trends for 2014, I decided that 15 trends for 2015 would be too many to track. Instead, I’ve narrowed down the focus to these 8 key CX trends for 2015:
- Corporate Culture Conversations. Culture is a difficult thing to wrap your hands around, which is why most leaders don’t discuss it. But it’s critical. As Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Think of culture as an invisible force that shapes how people behave, even when no one is looking. Great things can happen when culture is aligned with the objectives of the organization, as employees consistently and almost naturally propel those objectives. When culture is not aligned, however, employees need to be constantly pushed to do the right things, which is nearly impossible to sustain. As you can see in our video Driving CX Transformation, the blueprint for a customer-centric culture is based on what Temkin Group calls the four CX core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness. In 2014, we saw an uptick in the number of executives who not only discussed culture, but also openly recognized the value that those conversations can create. In 2015, we expect to see even more executives trying to build a customer-centric culture inside of their organizations.
- CX Training & Engagement. This past year, we saw a surge in the number of companies focusing on CX, and we expect this trend to continue. As more firms raise their CX ambitions, an increasing number of employees will need to understand the firm’s CX aspirations, learn core CX concepts, and recognize the role that they play in making it happen. The demand for education will grow in every area of the organization, from the boardroom to newly formed CX teams to myriads of frontline employees. Thus in 2015, as companies look to provide clear CX orientation to their employees, we expect to see a sharp increase in the demand for CX training courses.
- Voice of the Customer Renovations. This is a continuation of a trend that I highlighted last year. One of the most powerful forces inside an organization is clear feedback from customers, which is why so many organizations are building voice of the customer (VoC) programs. While these efforts add value, we’ve found that many are based on outdated approaches and technology. To help companies modernize their VoC programs, we defined five trends that will reshape how companies deal with customer insights: 1) Deep empathy, not stacks of metrics, 2) Continuous insights, not periodic studies, 3) Customer journeys, not isolated interactions, 4) Useful prescriptions, not past descriptions, and 5) Enterprise intelligence, not customer feedback. In 2015, we expect a lot of companies to evaluate their VoC programs and find that they are not as effective as they could or should be. Given the value of customer insights, many firms will invest in major renovations to these efforts this year.
- Mobile Mobile Mobile Formulations. The rise of personal computing devices, from iPhone apps to Fitbits, will continue to change how consumers experience the world they live in. That’s why mobile winds up on our list of trends again this year — it can’t be ignored. It’s hard to imagine any sector remaining unaffected by the ever-present digital devices that are able to track where we are, monitor our vital signs, share with our friends, and control our lives. In 2015, we’ll see more collaborative economy activity from providers such as Uber and Airbnb, as well as an increase of traditional companies embedding mobile devices into their existing offerings and operational processes.
- Brand (R)evaluations. Most companies with great customer experience also have strong brand identities. This is not a coincidence. A strong brand provides guidance and motivation for employees and clarifies CX priorities. Without a strong brand, companies lack the ability to make cohesive decisions about where to focus their CX efforts. Which is why we made Compelling Brand Values one of our four CX core competencies. As companies move beyond their initial foray into CX, advancing their CX maturity from what we call fluff to tough, many will find that their brands aren’t defined or understood well enough to guide the efforts. We expect that in 2015, many companies will hit this brand wall and recognize the need to re-evaluate their brands. In some cases, they will define new, clearer brand promises, while in other cases, they will re-assert their lost brand vows (see what Starbucks went through).
- Customer Journey Deliberations. You can’t read very much about CX without running into something about customer journey mapping. It’s a hot topic. That’s why Temkin Group’s customer journey mapping workshops regularly sell out. The concept is simple; you can treat a customer better if you understand how they view the world and recognize what role your organization plays in their journey. When done right, it’s a very valuable CX tool. But the value from customer journey mapping does not come from the development of a map or any specific artifact. The value comes from from using that effort to change the decisions made across an organization. We’ve identified five questions that can propel customer journey thinking—without even using a map: 1) Who is the customer? 2) What is the customer’s real goal? 3) What did the customer do right beforehand? 4) What will the customer do right afterwards? 5) What will make the customer happy? In 2015, we expect to see many more companies using customer journey maps, and we expect more mature organizations to adopt the customer journey mapping mindset.
- Contact Center Loyalty Aspirations. Many of an organization’s most important customer interactions occur in its contact center, yet these groups are often managed like unwanted cost centers, with a heavy focus on efficiency and avoidance. We’re starting to see a shift in this mindset. More companies are beginning to recognize what I said a couple of years ago—that contact centers must morph into relationship hubs. We’ve seen a significant uptick in service and contact center organizations’ interest in CX, and we expect this trend to continue next year. In 2015, we expect many organizations to extract insights from their contact center interactions using text analytics and speech analytics. They will also replace efficiency metrics, such as average handle times, with more customer-oriented measures. Contact center employees will also become more involved in the identification and redesign of key moments of truth.
- Human Resources Participation. If 2015 is the Year of the Employee, then it must also be the year that HR professionals finally jump on the CX bandwagon. How can HR groups remain relevant if they’re not actively involved (and in many cases leading) efforts focused on training and culture? They can’t. In 2015, we’ll see some HR groups stepping up to drive key areas of the CX transformation within their companies, including the critical focus on employee engagement. While these HR groups become more strategic within their companies, lagging HR groups will become relegated to more transactional activities as CX team step up and fill the leadership void.
The bottom line: 2015 will be the Year of the Employee in CX.