Forrester’s 5 CX Predictions For 2020

CX leaders who can prove the ROI of their efforts will reap the benefits, but those unable to tie experiences to dollars may find themselves out of work, Forrester says.

Forrester’s 5 CX Predictions For 2020

by Stephanie Overby

Posted on 11-17-2019

Is anyone going to argue against the strategic value that great customer experience (CX) gives businesses in 2020? Unlikely. 

However, being convinced that CX is integral to business success and achieving meaningful results are two different things. According to Forrester’s “Predictions 2020: Customer Experience” report, the year ahead will be marked by that stark distinction between CX-first organizations with professionals who are delivering top- and bottom-line benefits—and those who are not.

According to Forrester, CX leaders who can prove the ROI of what they’re doing will reap the benefits, but those unable to tie experiences to dollars and cents may find themselves out of work. In the context of continued economic uncertainty, “the race to monetize CX will lead to triumph for some firms and disaster for others,” the authors warned.

2020: The Economics Of CX Management

CX management is “a concept that a lot of people who feel passionately about improving customer experience seem to miss. For them it’s really obvious that you should be treating your customers well, [and so it] seems like it goes without saying,” said Harley Manning, VP and research director serving CX professionals at Forrester.

But it doesn’t go without saying, Manning told CMO by Adobe, “because of CEOs who have to talk to Wall Street, and CFOs who have to decide where to spend their limited funds, and CMOs who are trying to figure out whether they should fund this CX improvement thing that may sound new and unfamiliar versus a marketing campaign that they know has returned a certain result in the past.”

CX matters because it’s how brands will win market share and retain customers in a rapidly evolving marketplace. “Customer experience equals money,” he said. “That’s why people should actually care about it.”

That fact is the backdrop for Forrester’s five CX predictions for the year ahead.

Prediction 1: One Out Of Four CX Pros Will Get Fired

Scary perhaps, but necessary.

“We’re already seeing close to that,” Manning said, “and we’re seeing it accelerate.”

Business leaders will insist that CX deliver quantifiable business value. CX professionals who cannot connect improved CX to revenue gains or cost savings will be shown the door—not unlike some high-profile CMOs. B2B firms and financial services will be hardest hit, Forrester predicts. CX leaders who want to avoid this fate must embrace journey management and a tiered measurement strategy connected to business outcomes.

Prediction 2: The Number Of CX Executives Will Grow By At Least 25%

This may seem at odds with the previous trend, but it’s not. The number of CX executives has exploded 1,110% since 2014. Businesses are desperately seeking leaders with a firm grasp of the financial benefits of CX. They won’t be looking to those who lost their jobs; they’ll poach from competitors or promote from within, Forrester said.

“The economics of CX [is] an existential issue for anybody who thinks that their career is going to center on or largely involve improving customer experience,” Manning said. “If you can do that, if you can have a solid business grounding in your CX efforts, you potentially have a great career ladder ahead of you. And if you can’t do that, you may find yourself unemployable in the field.”

Prediction 3: 25% Of Companies Will Use Dark Patterns To Drive Consumer Behaviors

Dark patterns—the practice of tricking consumers to buy or sign up for things they don’t really want, such as premium subscriptions that are difficult to cancel later—are on the rise. More than 10% of top e-commerce sites employ them, according to a recent Princeton study. With CX and design professionals under pressure to optimize conversion rates, Forrester believes dark pattern adoption will surge for all commerce sites. That will be a mistake, Manning said. Consumers will push back at the same time big tech companies introduce tools to help protect them and legislators take action.

“In the short term, dark patterns work. You can effectively trick people into doing stuff that rings your cash register,” Manning said. “In the long term, though, it is problematic for your reputation. Our advice is, don’t do it.”

Prediction 4: 35% Of Firms Will Invest In Agent-Facing Bots To Improve Customer Service

The early use cases for intelligent bots have been customer-facing. However, improving customer service is one of the most powerful ways to improve CX. A 2018 study by The Tempkin Group found that a moderate increase in CX generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.

When it comes to customer service, customers “want you to fix it, fix all of it, fix it fast, and let them get back on with their lives,” Manning said. “How do you make the call center experience better? Well, you can use technology to help them be better customer service representatives and coach the CSRs as they’re trying to deliver service and cue them for empathy.”

Prediction 5: 25% Of Firms Will Lose More Than 1% Of Revenue By Responding Poorly To A Social Issue

One of Forrester’s most in-depth technographic surveys this year found 41% of U.S. consumers want to do business with brands that reflect their political, social, or ethical values. That’s big, Manning said.

“We’re not saying that every company should suddenly declare they have really intense social values that they don’t have,” he added. “We’re just saying that you need to understand how many of your customers feel really deeply about their values to the point that you could lose them to someone who has these values.”

As values become a bigger driver for decision-making, consumers will choose brands that align with their values and avoid those that don’t. Some brands are rising to the occasion, while others think they can ignore it. In 2020, some companies will suffer the consequences caused by an exodus of value-based consumers, according to Forrester.

“We’re not predicting that it will be disastrous, but it will be material,” Manning said. What’s more, consumers may be cynical of actions brands take after the fact. Smart CX leaders will take “authentic, preemptive action” on issues important to their customers.

The bottom line for 2020? It’s time for CX professionals to get a handle on what really makes a good customer experience—the things that result in increased spending.

“Once you know those things, do those things,” Manning said. “Don’t neglect to make the business case, and don’t look for quick, facile fixes, because they will end in a bad place.”

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