Last year was an exciting one for the voice of the customer (VoC) world. We saw significant advancements in a number of key areas, including process, culture, and technology. Ultimately, these moves led to better experiences for customers and better financials for companies.
To continue this momentum in the year ahead, VoC practitioners and their vendor partners need to pursue three things:
Deeper insight into the customer journey. Many VoC programs already do a good job of monitoring customers’ experiences at specific moments of truth and making operational changes accordingly. That’s valuable, but it doesn’t address the actual customer experience (CX), which exists across touchpoints over time. In 2012, firms need to start examining and optimizing entire customer journeys, not just individual interactions. This will help uncover interdependencies between touchpoints and enable firms to create smoother handoffs. It will also be hard to do, especially for companies that can’t currently tell which customers have provided feedback.
Deeper penetration into the CX ecosystem. Every employee in a company impacts the CX, whether directly or indirectly. Partners and vendors also play important roles. However, today’s VoC programs focus mainly on driving change among frontline employees and generating small numbers of systemic improvement projects. In 2012, VoC leaders need to increase their day-to-day influence among employees at multiple tiers, including in the back office as well as among third parties. How? By empowering these players with the insight they need to understand and actively manage their CX performance. This will require better insight into each player’s goals and processes.
What are the key trends that CRM trends that business and IT professionals need to pay attention to in setting their plans during 2012? Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research and recommendations for how to compete in The Age of the Customer will be published in late January.
1. Customer experience management will move beyond aspiration to strategy. More organizations will move beyond empty goals like becoming “customer-obsessed” to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies. The strategy must meet three tests: 1) It defines the intended experience; 2) it directs employee activities and decision-making; and 3) it guides funding decisions and project prioritization.
2. Brands will embrace the experience ecosystem. Firms will move to break free from their organizational silos, invest in understanding customer moments of truth through journey-mapping, and embrace the concept of the “customer experience ecosystem” — one that considers the influence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction.
3. Experience management will emerge as a management discipline. There is increasing acceptance of the idea that customer experience management can be thought of as a discipline — a set of sound, repeatable practices such as those are defined in Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Framework.