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How CX Changes When Your Customer is a Thing

by Don Scheibenreif  |  August 29, 2019  |  1 Comment


Digital society is emerging around us. It is the collection of people, organizations and things that are engaged in persistent digital interactions. What’s more, Internet-connected things and ambient artificial intelligence are gaining the ability to act on behalf of human customers. But what does CX (Customer Experience) even look like for a thing?

How Customer Experience Changes When Your Customer is a Thing, is the latest research note in our ongoing series exploring what happens when Internet connected things and ambient artificial intelligence act as customers.  In this research note, part of Gartner’s year-long special report on Digital Society, we will examine how the fundamentals of human-based CX will change in a digital society. This is a future where thing customers will outnumber human customers and the two will have to interact effectively.  To make our point, we tell the story of an intelligent soft drink vending machine and its human owner. We consider how organizations need to create experiences for things that lead to the same outcomes we want for our human customers: satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Changing CX Fundamentals

  • Developing customer understanding:  A “thing customer” has a voice when it can provide an opinion on the experience. This insight can be — likely should be — used to improve the human CX. If a thing customer is satisfied, so will it’s human owner.
  • Crafting customer experiences:  Creating customer journeys for thing customers must address the thing and its human owner, as well as the owner-thing interface (how the two interact). Think of a three-dimensional persona.
  • Creating a culture of “thing”customer-centricity: Thing customers will challenge organizational culture to become more thing-centric, requiring an enterprise to prioritize understanding and responding to this new segment of customers. How will you train your employees to serve thing customers?

What To Do Next?

Seems too futuristic, right? Possibly.

However, the foundations are in place – especially the growing use of virtual personal assistants from Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

Overall, we believe this future will be inevitable, as these technologies and human acceptance of them advance. This is one of many ways the emerging digital society will challenge humans. Existing ways of working, serving customers and day-to-day living will continue to change as new technologies emerge. Organizations that recognize this early will be well positioned to capitalize on the shift. CX that includes thing customers is one way to prepare.


Additional Resources

CRM Strategy and Customer Experience Primer for 2019

We outline our 2019 research plans for CRM and CX to help application leaders support these two different mission-critical priorities.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: application-leaders  building-and-expanding-a-digital-business  crm-strategy-and-customer-experience  internet-of-things  

Tags: iot  it  thing-customers  

Don Scheibenreif
Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
9 years at Gartner
9 years IT Industry

Don Scheibenreif is a Distinguished VP Analyst with Gartner's Customer Experience research group. He works with with Customer Experience and other IT leaders on how emerging trends and digital business will impact CX and enterprise digital transformation. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on How CX Changes When Your Customer is a Thing

  1. shut says:

    we will examine how the fundamentals of human-based CX will change in a digital society
    its very good

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