A resource for customer experience (CX) and experience management (XM) professionals.
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Stitcher Listen on Stitcher Listen on YouTube

AI, YOLO, and Trends into 2020

Release Date: December 17, 2019

As 2019 comes to an end, Steve welcomes Walker colleagues Sonya McAllister, Brad Harmon, and Troy Powell back to the podcast for a discussion on what they felt was significant for CX in 2019 and predictions on trends in customer experience into 2020. Discussion includes insights on the use of artificial intelligence and how customer experience has grown in awareness to companies seeking to create better experiences for their customers.

Transcript

CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Download the “CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" audio file directly. This CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" was automatically transcribed by Sonix (https://sonix.ai).

CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Steve:
A new year is just around the corner, which means it's time to reflect on what we've learned and look forward to what's ahead.

Sonya:
I think 2019 was a breakthrough year for CX. It really felt to me like this was the year that really any industry realized that this is an important concept for them to be focusing on and giving management attention to.

Steve:
The highlights of customer experience in 2019, and what trends to watch for in 2020. On this special episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is a production of Walker, an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone, I'm Steve Walker, host of The CX Leader Podcast, and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore the topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. Well, we've made it through another year and I'm looking forward to what exciting things 2020 will bring to the field of customer experience. So before we at The CX Leader Podcast take a couple weeks off for the holidays, I've asked some of my colleagues here at Walker to join me for a conversation on what they think was notable in 2019 and what trends to watch out for in 2020. Troy Powell is a vice president for advisory services, our resident Ph.D. and a regular guest on the show. Welcome back to the podcast, Troy.

Troy:
T hank you, Steve. Glad to be here.

Steve:
And Brad Harmon's vice president for advisory services, also a repeat guest on the podcast. Thank you, Brad, for being here today.

Brad:
Thanks for having me.

Steve:
And Sonya McAllister is a senior vice president and principal here at Walker and, continuing the trend, she's also been a guest on the show in the past and she's joining us via Zoom. Welcome back to the show to you, too, Sonya.

Sonya:
Thanks. Delighted to be here.

Steve:
Well, guys we're within just a couple of weeks here at the end of 2019, as I think we've come to appreciate on the show and just in the profession, it's a great time to be in the field of CX. Unbelievable things have been happening and so many exciting things going on in our world. So I thought it might be fun just to get together and chat a little bit, kind of reflect on the year that was and look forward to the year ahead. It sort of seems to be kind of what the media does at this time of the year. Let's start with 2019. Sonya why don't you share with us what you thought were the significant things that occurred in the past year.

Sonya:
I think 2019 was a breakthrough year for CX. There has been a lot of progress over the past several years, but it really felt to me like this was the year that really any industry realized that this is an important concept for them to be focusing on and giving management attention to. And I think a great example of that is even in industries like healthcare and financial services, where historically customers were feeling a little powerless in the relationship, just relying on those providers for the expertise and knowledge they have. Even now in in those industries, most companies are realizing that they need to be focusing on what that customer experience is like and and giving customers the power to create the experience that they want.

Steve:
Yeah, that's an interesting concept because those two industries that you mentioned, specifically health care and financial services, traditionally heavily regulated and and in many ways that was always kind of the reason why they couldn't be as customer focused. But we really see the power of the customer experience really overwhelming that and for the good of… the good of the end consumer, I believe.

Sonya:
Absolutely.

Troy:
Yeah, and I think, you know, the interesting piece on that, too, is we've seen, not just with research Walker's done, but, you know, with other CX organizations, this idea of the continual evolution of what consumers and customers expect in the experience, you know, and the fact that that continues to grow and the companies continue to kind of struggle with meeting that. And I think we saw that continue to advance in 2019. Much like Sonya indicated, and in industries where there hasn't been as much of a consumer force, and also in those where consumers have had more power. But I think we're just going to continue to see that as more information becomes available to consumers and to customers and as they get more power and how they want to interact, that it's going to continue to… what they demand out of the experience is going to continue to grow. And companies, you know we've seen for years now this kind of gap in the experience of what is desired and even what companies want to be able to provide as an experience. And then what they're actually able to do. You know, I think we're seeing this movement from just talking about, hey, we have to provide a good experience, too. We really do need to put this into practice. And we're seeing you know, I've personally I've seen more of that this year than in the past where companies are putting it into place and actually, you know, creating new experiences and, you know, and being able to start maybe to meet that expectation.

Steve:
Yeah, you make a great point, Troy, because in our early work around, you know, "Customers 2020," which we did I think in 2013 and now we're just a few weeks from 2020, we predicted this and we talked about that gap between what the customer was expecting and what the competitive marketplace was willing to put forward. And we keep seeing that shrink. That's good for customers. It's good for customer experience professionals, but it's still a challenge for our organizations. Brad, what do you got?

Brad:
Well, yeah, I would say, too, the number of choices that are available for consumers now, they're viable choices where we've seen businesses start up from scratch with the notion of customer experience at their center and those businesses are getting to scale to where consumers now feel comfortable and confident that they can make choices away from some of the incumbents and legacy providers where they weren't… weren't happy. And now there's legitimate viable options for them. And I think that's a big difference that I'm seeing in 2019 that we've not seen as much of in the past.

Steve:
Yeah. And as we have talked about before, you know, B2B is being driven by what consumers experience in the B2C space, and there just seems like, you know, every day there's, there's… there's more and better unique customer experiences being created in the B2C world. So anybody else have a sort of a reflection back on 2019. Brad?

Brad:
To me, I think this is a year where we're really seeing the emergence of Generation Z. So, you know, as I mentioned a few moments ago about just the choices that are available for consumers. GenZ is now, you know, they're the the generation of "you only live once," you know, YOLO and FOMO and all these acronyms about really taking advantage of your life and you only live it once. So there's much less hesitation to shift business away from a provider because they want to make the best of it, have the best experience possible. And so that may mean a whole lot of jumping around, whether that be from a customer standpoint, customer experience standpoint, but also an employee experience standpoint where you've got people who want to, you know, live their best life and do that on a every single day basis. And I think that's a trend that we're only going to see more of moving forward that we're starting just now to see in 2019.

Steve:
Now, just for clarification, GenZ is also known as…

Brad:
I think it's… it actually is post-millennial.

Troy:
Definitely in the… in the spirit of FOMO, though, Brad is kind of a late addition to this podcast and he thought he might miss out and really wanted to be added at the last minute. [laughing]

Steve:
All right…

Brad:
You only live once, Troy! [laughing]

Steve:
I'll show how out touch I am, I don't even know what FOMO means.

Brad:
[laughing] Fear of missing out.

Steve:
Fear of missing out.

Brad:
Fear Of better Options, FOBO.

Steve:
Oh, OK. Yeah.

Brad:
Yo… Yolo: You Only Live Once.

Steve:
I knew that one.

Brad:
Yeah,

Steve:
FOLO I was down with. It was a FOMO that I was struggling with a little bit, but… I think I might have been born too soon because I'm always in fear of missing…

Brad:
Yeah, [laughing]

Steve:
…out. I was… you know, I'm always looking for a good time.

Announcer:
Do you have an idea for a topic that you'd like us to cover? A suggestion on how we can improve the program or just want to let us know how much you enjoy listening? Email The CX Leader Podcast at podcast@walkerinfo.com. We'd love to hear your feedback on how we're doing. That's podcast@walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Any trend from… from you or anything that you saw in '19 that you want to reflect on, Troy?

Troy:
Yeah, I think, you know, there's a couple pieces of things. And, you know, I look at back at 2019 and really it also moves forward into 2020. A lot of what I've seen are things that I think are going to continue to trend and perhaps even accelerate. And I think those two would be, one is, you know, that merger and acquisition activity, you're right, it's… it's always been high. It seems like especially in some of the B2B spaces, you know, that it is continuing to increase and maybe even the larger mergers and acquisitions going on. And… and I think what I'm starting to see, though, is, is CX really being more of an active participant in some of that. I'm starting to see and you know, a little bit more of that focus of CX org's saying, OK, well, let's find out what are customers thinking about this? What do we need to put in place to ensure that that experience continues uninterrupted and we don't lose customers as a result? So that I think is an interesting trend and… and one that I would say probably should hopefully at least increase as we move forward. And then the other we wanted to wait to say this word, you know, to decrease the white noise around it. But the other would be around A.I., right? You can't, I think, talk about anything current or future without mentioning that. And you know, and rightfully so, I think we have to be careful that CX is not going to be the thing that solves our experience problems. But it is nonetheless a force that we have to, one, figure out how to best take advantage of. But then also two, to figure out, you know, how… how can we monitor those things where A.I. can't do as good of a job as a human. And how do we combine the two forces to ensure that experience is great for the for the consumer and the customer? Going back to customers 2020. You're saying customers want personalization? They want ease, they want speed. Those things can be conflicting desires unless you leverage something like A.I. and analytics and big data and all these things that have preceded it. So we've got to leverage it and we got to figure out how. But then we also have to acknowledge, especially in B2B that they're still humans involved in that interaction and always will be on both the company side and the customer side. So how do we allow A.I. to really enable the humans to do what they do best and to then ensure that that experience is seamless? So…

Steve:
Yeah. A.I. is huge and it's a trend that obviously will… will roll into 2020 and maybe to start thinking now more future oriented, maybe we… we kind of piggy back off of this A.I. discussion and start talking about some of the other megatrends and ask both Sonya and Brad to comment on that. But one of the things I've thought about with A.I., it's really born out of big data where there is so much data and a huge amount of it is really not as valuable. So you almost need to use some sort of machine learning or… or artificial intelligence to, to find the meaningful pieces of data. I like the analogy of security cameras, which have, you know, made our world safer in many ways. But, you know, ninety-nine point something percent of the time, it's just looking at nothing. But then when there's an incident or a crime or something like that, or an accident, that's when you want that. And it wouldn't make sense for somebody to monitor that 24/7. But with machines, you can. And it's very cost effective. Brad, what what about you and trends or does A.I. spark any thoughts in your mind?

Brad:
Yeah, I think the keyword that I honed in on from what Troy said a few moments ago is seamless. So I think there are a lot of things that A.I. can do, but it's at some point, there is the transition back to a person when the level of criticality reaches a certain point and the organizations or companies that are best able to navigate that transition are going to be the ones that ultimately win out, I think, because, you know, we, we… we know that we're interacting with bots when we get support. In many cases, if it's a front level kind of very easy type of support request that we may have. But then what happens when I reached the… the extremes of that? And then I have to actually talk to someone. Do I have to repeat all the information that I've provided over and over again until I get to someone who can actually help me? And I think those that do figure that out, they're going to be the ones that are going to be the most successful and kind of model that not only from a support perspective. But all areas of the business that they operate.

Steve:
Sonya, what… what trends come to your mind as emerging as we pass from 2019 into 2020?

Sonya:
Well, on the A.I. front, it's interesting, I think Troy and Brad are talking about it from the perspective of A.I. being enabled to deliver part of the customer experience, whereas maybe Steve, you and I as well have been thinking about it more from the perspective of how does a CX professional leverage A.I. to help them identify new trends, customer needs, customer pain points. And I think the early days of that have been the focus, more intense focus recently on the use of text analysis and not just for comments that come through in customer surveys or other feedback, but also from case notes that employees are capturing for every support ticket and other reviews on social media. Just lots of different avenues for unstructured customer feedback to be brought together and to be analyzed in a way that can identify something new and meaningful to an organization. I heard a pretty interesting example the other day where one of the providers of cable TV services noticed in their text analysis that a theme of smoke was coming up frequently and they were a little surprised, really couldn't quite grasp what would be the connection there, and certainly didn't seem like a good thing in terms of people coming in to customers homes to hook up electrical connections. And when they dug into a little further, what they found actually is a lot of the technicians would smell of smoke when they arrived. And this was just a… an issue that irritated customers. And that came through. That's not something the company ever would have thought to ask about. But it came through in this use of machine learning and A.I. and reviewing the comments and feedback from their customers.

Steve:
That's a great example and something that, you know, where we… we are starting to use some of the A.I. to get at that. You know, another trend that… that I've thought of and I think it's a lot like, I think text is a great example, but this Internet of Things or what some people are calling "the Edge," you know, where we're collecting so much data. Like, I was struck that… what is it, Google just bought Fitbit? So they're gonna be matching up all that data with what you're doing online. And, you know, there's… there's probably a lot of applications in our world for that, particularly as it goes to X- and O-data, because now we're going to be able to get much more X-data like Brad's talking about the bots out there for servicing where you do, you've given them your account number, you've given the last four of your social and then you get to a human and you've got to go through the whole routine again. Let's let's talk a little bit about X- and O-data as a trend.

Troy:
Yeah, I think, you know, it's… it's actually credibly exciting from an experience management standpoint and as a practitioner in that space, because you think back to, you know, the dark ages 20 years ago, 15 years ago, you know, whatever where this idea of these massive surveys, you know, that would go out is like ombudsman surveys that you're asking in 30, 40 minutes of questions. A lot of that was done because we had no way of knowing what the customer was experiencing using any other way than just asking them. And now that's not the case. It's still taking a while sometimes for practitioners to realize that. But there's so much data about what they're actually doing that really all we need to do is to be able to layer on the kind of why and how do you feel about that data? So using that data to then provide the X-data that gives the context around it so that you know what to do. So going to all the, you know, issues we've talked about A.I. with the text analytics, you know, those things allow for not just putting X- and O-data together today to say we've done it, but to actually utilize both of those data pieces… types of data to really make a change in what we're doing and to make it quickly and to make customers happy about it.

Brad:
Yeah, I think the thing that strikes me is that there's still a shortage of data scientists and many companies are still struggling to be able to get a handle on the accuracy, the completeness of the data. So while we all talk about how much data is out there, how much of, of it really is usable? And I think hopefully we're closing some of that gap and that will allow us to be able to do more of the connections to between X- and O-data. But I still think there's a little ways to go before that becomes universal. But ultimately, what we want to be able to do is to make as good of predictions as possible and be able to see those predictions come to fruition so that we know as we have confidence in what we're alerting people to, that we know and can quantify the benefits of the actions that we're taking for the business and be able to then really demonstrate the Holy Grail ROI that that hasn't… it's been elusive to this point. Many people have created proxies for it, but I think it does have the potential to allow us to really have a very strong ROI story. And that's what gets people very excited about it.

Steve:
Yeah, it is, I was listening to you guys talk. It really kind of. For me, this is kind of the culmination of a whole career of where we thought we saw what was possible. But really today we have the tools and the scale and the.. and I think the mindset at the executive suite to actually really make this thing happen. Sonya, you had a, I think, some thoughts about the marriage of CX and EX data that I think is fitting here.

Sonya:
Yeah, the X- and O-data theme is carrying through to the employee experience side of things as well. You know, so many organizations are really thinking more comprehensively about the key interactions and touchpoints that they have with their employees. And, you know, moving from just that annual engagement feedback process to something much more holistic and designed to truly follow the employee journey. And that just increases the ability to bring X- and O-data together for CX and EX in a way that is exponentially more impactful than what we've seen historically. Right? So if we can really build the story for how the onboarding process for a new employee ultimately affects the support experience for a customer when they have an issue with your product, that's pretty compelling.

Steve:
We're here on the podcast doin' our year in review of the things that have happened in 2019 and looking forward to a great year in 2020. And with three of my colleagues, Brad Harmon, Sonya McAllister and Troy Powell, and we're doing a little bit of reflection. And now we've come to the prediction part of the show for the listeners who are familiar, we always do take home value. And we're kind of do a unique take on that today – kind of a prediction slash what should I do as a CX professional in 2020? So who's up first?

Brad:
So a term I heard the other day, which I think may resonate as we think of things moving forward, is… is the notion of standard personalization. So being able to take a variety of options, a variety of configurations and standardize those so that you can scale but enable consumers, customers to be able to choose the ones that are relevant for them. So I think the… to the extent that we enable that for customers and realize that they feel and should feel unique and special and give them the opportunities to configure what they're looking for while still maintaining some boundaries… some ways that that can help us to scale an offering that's going to become more pervasive in the marketplace, I believe. And the companies that can do that are going to be the ones that are going to excel.

Steve:
Excellent. By the way, I'm writing these down so that we can, you know, we… we might have to have a show to kind of review how good the good these predictions are, but… Sonia, you want to go next?

Sonya:
Sure. I was thinking more along the lines of a recommendation than a prediction, so I might be just counting myself out of any accuracy check next year.

Steve:
Sounds like a smart way to go, actually.

Sonya:
The idea or theme that I wanted to just put out there: it's pretty prevalent right now for many organizations to have some kind of a master data management project happening. And I know that doesn't sound very sexy, but it's pretty critical to the success of customer experience going forward. So make sure that you or someone on your team is involved in that and helping to guide the kind of customer related data that your organization has available.

Brad:
I have a prediction related to that.

Sonya:
Ok. Go.

Brad:
It's still gonna be an issue a year from now. [laughing]

Steve:
Yeah, but if you're a CX pro and you hear ERP, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP… yeah, you want to get a seat at that table for sure in your organization.

Troy:
Yes. Well, I think, Sonya, you're always very good about telling people what to do and it being the right thing to do so. So we'll let you…

Sonya:
Oww! [laughing]

Troy:
With that. No

Steve:
Is that your prediction? [laughing]

Brad:
[laughing]

Troy:
My prediction is Sonya is going to keep telling people the right thing to do and not everybody is going to listen. And so we're going to still have problems like Brad said in a year. That's my prediction.

Sonya:
If only everybody listened to me.

Troy:
Exactly! [laughing]

Steve:
I, I assume you have another prediction.

Troy:
I do. So, no… I think that, yeah, again, this goes back to Sonya's point, you know, whether this a prediction or that actually comes true or whether it's one that people fail at. I'm not sure. But I do think that moving forward, we're going to continue to see the importance of CX teams being directly involved with the continuous improvement efforts at their firms. Right? And we, you know, it seems like just such a logical combination that we still see so frequently that those things are disconnected. So CX is just there to provide some data and some scores and some new indications. And then, you know, hopefully somebody does something with them. But… but having those two sides of the coin really put together and we're seeing great growth and the idea of like closed loop follow up processes that at an individual level. So when customers are upset with a transaction that, you know, we have some way of following up with them and closing the loop on that. And I think that's great. But I think we're missing out on the more systemic things that come from that and say, OK, it's great to follow up and make somebody happier after having a bad experience. But what can we do to make sure they don't have that experience to begin with? And so you're seeing more and more kind of the tie with a continuous improvement function and the customer experience team. And I think that's going to continue to grow. And if… if it doesn't, we're going to continue to see the gap, the experience gap that we've noticed or customers are just wanting more and companies just can't, you know, sit back and be okay with having the best of a worst experience, which is I think, where a lot of companies are now saying, hey, well, we're not as bad as other companies. Well, that's not going to do it for very much longer. So… so how do you figure out how to really optimize that experience to Brad's point, to be able to provide as much personalization in a standard way as possible to get those efficiencies?

Steve:
Well, there you have it, CX later podcast fans, those are your predictions and recommendations for going into 2020. Standard personalization, master data management process, and continuing to put the CX more directly with the business, be it the continuous improvement or with the X- and O-data, making sure that you are delivering a return on on that investment in the CX program. Well, I want to make one prediction… now maybe I'll actually make two. I think that 2020 is going to be a great year to continue to be in our profession. And thanks to all the people that worked so hard to make sure that companies are customer focused, and I think that… that the cause is noble and that we should continue to persevere. I know it's not fun all the time, but for the most part, it's definitely a rewarding profession. And also, I believe that, you know, the CX Leader Podcast will continue to grow and be the best resource for CX leaders at this time of the year. We're so thankful to have great listenership. We basically have doubled the downloads of our podcast during 2019. So many thanks to all listeners out there and for referring and for all the good feedback you give us. My guests on the program this week have been Troy Powell, Brad Harmon and Sonya McAllister. They're all experts in customer experience and their colleagues and friends of mine here at Walker Troy. Brad, Sonya, thanks for being on the podcast. Thanks for being a pro and thank you for all your service to the industry.

Brad:
Thank you.

Troy:
You're welcome.

Sonya:
Here's to a great 2020.

Steve:
Hey, I second that! And if you want to talk about anything you heard on the podcast or about how Walker can help your business' customer experience, feel free to contact me here at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or give us a call here at 1-317-843-8890. Be sure to check out our website cxleadpodcast.com. You can subscribe to iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play and YouTube and find all of our previous episodes, podcast series, and contact information so you can let us know how we're doing. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for being here this week. Thanks for listening. And we will see you again in 2020. Happy holidays, everybody.

Quickly and accurately convert audio to text with Sonix.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" files to text.

Thousands of researchers and podcasters use Sonix to automatically transcribe their audio files (*.CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020"). Easily convert your CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" file to text or docx to make your media content more accessible to listeners.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2019—it’s fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your CX Leader Podcast: "AI, YOLO, and trends into 2020" to text, try Sonix today.

Tags: