Have these 3 customer experience predictions come true in 2020?

Estimated reading time
3 minutes
20th January 2020
Author: Kit McKay
Posted in: Customer insights

Thought leaders, research firms, and industry blogs are all fans of making annual predictions. It’s the kind of content that gets good click-through-rates and attracts backlinks. But how often do you retrospectively go back and check whether they were right or not? I never do, so I thought it’d be interesting to take a look back at three of the strongest predictions of how customer experience would look in 2020 and compare it with reality today.

Let’s remember that predictions should always be taken with a grain of salt. Here’s why:

1. “By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse” – Gartner (2016)

The bust of a half-built robot

This was a pretty ambitious prediction to make back in 2016, when chatbots weren’t nearly as common as they are today. Maybe the person who made this prediction really liked chatbots, or maybe they just really didn’t like their spouse. Either way, I would hope this prediction isn’t true for anyone. 

But that’s not to say chatbots haven’t become an important part of customer experience in 2020. The use of chatbots has increased dramatically, and will likely continue to do so. According to the 2019 “State of Service” survey, 23% of customer service professionals were currently using AI chatbots. However, a further 31% planned to introduce them within 18 months – this amounts to a 136% growth rate.

Chatbots have been proven to help customer experience executives focus on other tasks while making sure every customer gets a quick response.

So while we’re hopefully not ever going to speak to chatbots more than our spouses, it’s likely many of us will be talking to more of them in the coming months.

2. “Personalization will help drive customer loyalty” – Forbes (2017)

Starbucks loyalty card in a wallet

Did this prediction come true? It’s complicated.

In some cases, personalization has been proven to drive customer loyalty. Recent research revealed that 79% of customers only consider brands that show they understand and care about “me,” and 56%  are loyal to brands that deeply understand their priorities and preferences.

So personalization can drive loyalty. However, it’s hard to say how much personalization is currently helping companies as most are not using it effectively. Only 25% of customers are satisfied with the level of personalization they’re currently receiving from customer experience.

A recent 2020 trends report predicts that this might actually move forward this year.

“2020 will see businesses outside of the top five percent experiment and deploy hyper-personalized CX. It will move from the top web brands to the mass market as more companies invest in automation, predictive analytics, and AI.

But hyper-personalization is not possible without customer journey analytics. Businesses need to understand the end-to-end journey of each customer to understand how to personalize it.”

But remember, this is just a prediction.

3. “Customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020” – Walker (2016)

A young boy dressed as a businessman raises his arm in success as his homemade box car is in first place. Both boys are wearing helmets and goggles.

When Walker made this prediction back in 2016, customer experience was really just at the beginning of its boom and this was a fairly bold claim to make.

However, I think it’s pretty safe to say this prediction holds true in 2020. Currently, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

And this increases with the price of the product, research from PWC finds. Customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury services, just because of a great customer experience. Also, 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving personalized customer experiences.

Companies are well aware of the impact of customer experience and the majority now compete on this basis more than price or product. In 2010, only 36% of companies competed primarily through customer experience. This number has risen to more than two-thirds in the last few years and will soon rise to 81%, finds Gartner.

The state of customer experience in 2020

While not all of these predictions have come true this year (not yet anyway), I think it’s safe to say digital transformation will continue to shape customer experience in 2020.

Blake Morgan, keynote speaker and author of several books on customer experience, summarizes: “2020 is an exciting year for customer experience. As we enter a new decade, customer experience is firmly positioned as a competitive advantage and something most companies are prioritizing. It’s never been more important to deliver a consistent, seamless experience for customers and to look towards the future to find innovative ways to meet their needs.”