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The Customer Management Industrial Complex Looms Over Gartner’s CX Predictions

By Hank Barnes | January 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

customer experience

This fall, a team of Gartner analysts worked together to reconcile a number of different frameworks and constructs to take a more holistic view of customer experience.  That work resulted in something Gartner calls CX Core, but also exposed a negative force – The Customer Management Industrial Complex (Gartner clients: see this report and search for CX Core for more).

The complex is basically the inertia behind business operations and technology deployments that prioritizes operational efficiency of functional silos and short-term profits while claiming customer centricity.   The balance in CX efforts has been off for years and the overcorrect concept discussed in the linked blog is still needed today.  But the wave of pressures on end-user organizations to deliver to internal metrics, complemented by technology and service providers offering solutions that target those metrics, builds the momentum  of the Complex that puts the customer centric practices at risk.  (Think about it, the situations where a metric that puts the customer first instead of the company are more exceptions than the rule.   Even NPS is more about the company than the customer).

Source: Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

With this in mind, Gartner’s annual predictions in areas of CX may need to be examined more closely.   The top level CX predicts document (Clients access “Predicts 2022: Executives Must Shift Greater Focus to Customers and Employees to Drive Growth” here) starts with a foundation built around CX Core principles, but also could be viewed and twisted by the Customer Management Industrial Complex.

Let me give a couple examples using two of the predictions.

First, we are predicting that “By 2025, 60% of organizations with VoC programs will supplement traditional surveys by analyzing voice and text interactions with customers.”  This sounds like a step in a good direction, but the questions will be what are the motivations for that analysis and how will it be used.   Will it be more and more layers to try to squeeze more efficiency into service interactions or will it be used to strive to continuously improve the customer experience.  I hope for the latter but fear the former.

A second prediction is “By 2025, organizations that enhance digital channels with a primary goal of a better CX will convert 65% of interactions to self-service.”   This is another one that done through the eyes of the customer and CX core is a great step.   If a customer prefers unassisted service and interactions and the digital channels help them accomplish their objectives with low effort, then it is a winner.   But, again, consider this in the face of the Customer Management Industrial Complex.   In that light, we’ve heard this story before, but organizations struggle to design compelling and effortless experiences.   Even as CX investments have increased, many feel the experience has not gotten better; it has gotten worse (Let’s not even talk about my 8+ hour hold time (after being promised ONLY a two hour wait) with Southwest this summer to correct a small issue with my wife’s reservation).

The issue is really not the technology, or the service providers, or even the end-user organizations.   Independently, I fervently believe that, by and large, we all want to be better and to help our customers.  The issue is metrics, control, and silos.     We really have not figured out how to put the customer at the center and look at things through their eyes, regardless of silos.  We have not figured out that customers go wherever they can for information, ignoring the way we would like them to progress “through our organization.”  This is a funny one, because we’ve always known this.  Think of how many of your customers contact their sales rep about service issues–particularly major ones–before or instead of the service organization.  We create shared metrics (like “shared revenue goals”) without recognizing the different roles groups play in revenue (direct vs. indirect involvement).  We talk about alignment and hand-offs as a way to optimize our work, but forgetting the customer wants none of it. Five years ago, I blogged about this, but little has changed.

Breaking free from inertia is difficult.  Gartner’s CX predictions reflect a spirit and focus on progress, but they require embracing the principles behind the CX Core model to truly happen.   The good news is (as the balance post indicates) that this is not an either or situation.  You can do right by your customer while doing right by your company.   You just need to start in the right place.


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