A crisis of trust: why isn’t CX quality improving?

According to Forrester analysts, CX quality has stalled throughout the world. Here’s Tom Champion and Ryan Hart on how smart brands will react.

This article originally appeared in The Experience Issue, our February/March print edition of Marketing magazine »

Around the world, customer experience (CX) quality has largely stalled – Australia included. According to Forrester’s 2017 ‘Customer Experience Index’, not a single industry average improved this year in the Australian market. Many individual brands stagnated or even slid backward – mirroring a global slump in CX quality.


Why did CX quality not improve in 2017?

Tom-ChampionMultiple data sources show that customer confidence is up, spending is up and expectations are rising, as consumers interact with brands more than ever before. But the data also shows that trust in companies has dropped precipitously. This crisis of trust is worsened by misleading and false statements from executives and politicians alike, amplified by the speed and power of the internet to scale the spread of falsehoods.

As companies recognise this crisis of trust, Forrester believes that the leading companies will address the issue head-on in 2018, responding to this sea change in four key ways. For example:

  1. Brands that own their values will break away from those that merely borrow them. Brands that deliver CX rooted in values – such as Aesop, Muji and Apple – will draw customers, while brands that borrow their values and stage their superficial experiences will continue to be called out for all to see across social media.
  2. Smart companies will deepen customer understanding beyond the low-hanging fruit. CX pros at leading firms will move beyond ad hoc initiatives, probe deeper into root causes and work to instil the discipline required for outcomes to scale and last.
  3. B2B firms will move from ‘just selling’ to customer success management (CSM). CSM practitioners earn trust by strengthening CX management maturity practices to ensure that promises made to clients in the pre-sale period don’t fall into a post-sale transition gap. For a growing number of B2B companies, the pathway to growth will come through CSM.
  4. Brands will increasingly serve distinct communities rather than the mass market. ‘Jack of all trade’ brands slipped across the board in our CX Index this year – an indication that brands struggle more and more to be ‘everything to everyone’ in the age of the customer. We see speciality brands continuing to raise the bar as new CX leaders emerge by serving narrower sets of customers more deeply.


Specific to the Australian market, we see two key changes on the horizon. Companies in ANZ will:


1. Decentralise their CX capabilities

Ryan-Hart-PRFounded on the philosophy that everyone in the firm is responsible for CX delivery, the CX function will move out of one department and be spread across many. In terms of skill set, this means CX teams will do less of the operational work and will need to embrace their position as internal consultants, and back it up with the right skills in change management, problem solving, training and stakeholder coordination. Failure to do this could see an explicit CX function wiped off the map.


2. Focus more on the employee experience

MK0218 200 cover experienceSome firms have already jumped on board the employee experience bandwagon by expanding the remit of the team to firmly include culture. CX teams have implicitly covered culture change in the past, but it’s becoming more enshrined in their roles. That’s because the CX skill set transfers well to employees, as metrics like eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) become more popular, employee journey mapping becomes a norm and CX leaders even take on the traditional HR remit. Forrester predicts 2018 will be a year of reckoning.

For 30 percent of companies, CX performance will decline further, and this will translate into a net loss of a point of growth. Smart executives will intervene to make CX an internal disruptive force, one that is underpinned by the fundamentals of CX management with customer trust at the core; too many executives will continue to ignore evidence of market disruption and procrastinate until the evidence is overwhelming, putting their firms at risk as we enter 2019.


Tom Champion (pictured, above) is senior analyst at Forrester.

Ryan Hart (pictured, below) is principal analyst at Forrester.


Forrester is a Marketing content partner, a leading organisation with which we collaborate to bring exclusive content to readers.


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