Seeing the Forest AND the Trees—Reflections of Forrester’s CX ’19 Conference

Posted On June 18, 2019
By Andrew McInnes

The team here at Strativity is a big fan of Forrester’s annual CX conference. For the last few years, we’ve attended, presented, and sponsored—it’s always great to connect with clients, colleagues, and industry leaders, and this year was no different….except in one respect. This year, the conversation changed, from ‘technology as the answer’ to ‘technology as the enabler.’ This is not a subtle shift, it’s a full-on schism…and I love it!

This does not appear to be just a ‘one-off conference’ thing…I observed the same shift in focus at Medallia’s Experience ’19 event earlier in June as well. To test our theory that the focus has shifted, we asked the more than 300 people who attended our breakout session about ‘activating CX across an organization’ these two questions:

 

1) How many of you are working on the ‘people’ part of a CX transformation?

2) How many of you have ‘cracked it’?

 

To the first question, pretty much all of the hands in the room rose (not surprising—given the title of the preso, I guess!). To the second question, I didn’t see a single hand in the air—there might have been one or two, of course, but the difference was pretty stark!

So—what’s driving this? Well, a few things—and many of them came through loud and clear in the presentations and the conversations that folks had with one another over the course of the 2 days.

 

  1. CX scores are flat: Forrester’s CEO George Colony opened with this message: Forrester CX scores remain pretty stagnant. That doesn’t mean that companies aren’t doing well, of course; it means that they are no longer improving so quickly. A big part of this is that many of the ‘quick wins’ that organizations could jump on when they started their shift to a CX-centric mindset have now been achieved. The bar has gotten much higher…and clearing it, much harder.

 

  1. Self-serve?  Not so much!: Navy Federal Credit Union’s CEO Mary McDuffie talked about how customer expectations have shifted from ‘self-service’ to ‘do it for me.’ A largely unforeseen by-product of spoiling our customers is that many are now becoming less and less interested in doing a lot of the legwork for themselves. Does this mean the death of ‘self-serve’? No, but it does create some interesting challenges for companies looking to optimize their service delivery models and the choices they are beginning to make regarding who gets what and when.

 

  1. Activation is THE word (the ‘bird’ is going to need to find a new song!): Everyone is talking about activating CX throughout the workforce by aligning their people and behaviors to deliver the genuinely connected (not ‘connected’ in the tech sense) experiences that customers are looking for—activating people, as the ultimate authentic conduit for delivering truly great customer experiences.

 

For me, the last point is my biggest ‘a-ha’—not because it surprises me, but because it has taken SO long for this to become the central focus of CX. It was beginning to feel that businesses truly believed that CX technologies were the be-all and end-all of CX. But, of course, they are not, they never have been, and they never will be. At the heart of every exceptional customer experience is a person, and a team, who took the time to anticipate their customer’s need and deliver on it beautifully.

This is further underscored in Forrester’s POST methodology—an approach which recommends the following sequence to activities: 1) Start with defining the PEOPLE you are trying to better serve, 2) Set your OBJECTIVES, 3) Define the STRATEGY that will support the accomplishment of the stated objectives, and 4) implement the TECHNOLOGY that will help you deliver the desired customer experience.

CX technologies have come so far—they can shine a light on CX improvement opportunities, help us celebrate and reinforce CX successes, and engage with customers en masse in ways that we could only dream of a few years ago, but they will never replace the Head, Heart, and Hands required to deliver truly great customer experiences.

If you’re looking to take your CX activities to the next level, please contact us—we’d love to chat.