Last week, LRW-CX and Strativity teamed up to sponsor Medallia’s annual Experience event, where roughly 2,000 experience management professionals from across various industries gathered to share challenges, highlight best practices, and inspire one another with so many CX possibilities still on the horizon. Stepping back from an exciting and exhausting few days, a few big themes stand out:
- We’re still early in the customer experience game. CX has come a long way over the past few years, but both the formal presentations and informal conversations at Experience suggest we’re still fairly early in the game. Many organizations are just getting started with formal experience management, and even the more mature ones are still adding key touchpoints to their programs, expanding the reach of their data and insights, and pushing their organizations to actually do something with what they’ve delivered.
- Platforms are more flexible, and implementations are less self-service. The market is demanding more flexibility, and tech providers like Medallia are responding with more open and configurable tools. CX leaders are taking advantage of the flexibility for ad hoc needs like building new reports and deploying one-off surveys, but they consistently said they still need strong partners to manage the major ongoing processes that fuel their programs. Temkin Group called out the same trend based on its data a few months back. Even without complex coding requirements, technical program management requires deep expertise and significant capacity, and most organizations don’t have it – or want it – in house.
- Employee activation is at the top of the priority list. As CX leaders initiate and expand their programs, they’re finding that even the best data, insights, and tools don’t automatically change behaviors. When this came up in our conversations at Experience, we consistently heard things like, “We’re working on that now” or “We need to focus on that next.” Interestingly, this was true for leaders who were just rolling out their programs and those who’d been running for a few years. The last mile is the hardest one to walk, and most firms are still figuring out how to do it. Those that get it right will thrive. Those that don’t get it right will struggle, and they’re more likely to give up on CX altogether.
- Tech advancements are bringing CX platforms closer to adjacent tools. Medallia announced some exciting new product developments and acquisitions at the event, which will expand the reach and enhance the value of the data and insights the platform can deliver. With capabilities to do things like build rich customer profiles from across disparate data sources, these developments will continue to nudge CX platforms closer to adjacent tools like CRM and marketing automation. This development offers clients exciting opportunities for integration and consolidation, and it also advances the “coopetition” between platforms that aim to be the customer system of record for organizations. This trend will likely heat up in the year ahead.
- CX is a helpful profession with a caring community. While technology plays a key enabling role, CX is all about people. Several sessions at Experience reminded us that employees and customers feel better and perform better when they’re connected to a common human purpose. CX leaders feel this on a personal level and recognize the good that CX can do for the world – both in small ways by eliminating daily frustrations, and in big ways by unlocking people’s passion and helping them find fulfilment. With that perspective, it’s not surprising to see CX leaders openly share their experiences and support one another along their journeys.
It’s an exciting time be at the heart of the CX discipline. There’s a lot of work to do, and there’s real personal and business value in doing it. Above all else, the conference underscored that implementing and activating a CX program is one of the most important investments that any organization can make right now.