Forrester’s CX Index shows that, across the board, companies are getting better at delivering quality customer experiences (CX). But in as much time as it takes to open a celebratory bottle of champagne, the tide of rising customer expectations threatens to push the product or service CX pros have been working on for so long toward obsolescence. Essentially, customer expectations are rising faster than companies can conceptualize, design, and deliver improved experiences.

Now, imagine if you could better manage your customer’s expectations before the delivered experience — first by elevating your customer’s positive emotions as early in the interaction as possible and then initiating a positive emotional momentum that will carry throughout their journey with your brand. It’s called anticipatory CX and it is the most powerful element of CX that you’re not currently paying attention to. Consider the following:

  • Evolution gave us anticipation as a motivating force. People are wired to anticipate future happy experiences as opposed to negative events. When you think about the BBQ this weekend or your friend’s wedding next month or a vacation later in the year, you’re anticipating a positive experience. Your brain’s intrinsic anticipatory-reward system has kicked in.
  • Anticipation drives human — and therefore, consumer — behavior. On some level, we are all dopamine addicts, equipped with marvelously flexible neural machinery for seeking new events to anticipate. Prepaying $1,000 for a Tesla Model 3 that hasn’t been built yet, putting $150 down on a Kickstarter project two years before it will come to fruition, or believing that you will want to buy whatever Apple makes next are all irrational behaviors that only make sense when we understand anticipatory-reward and the power that lies therein.
  • Customers’ urges can be tapped. While companies like Disney, Tesla, Kickstarter, and Ducati stand out as anticipatory CX leaders, any company can and should use the power of anticipation to elevate their CX. Understanding it empowers CX pros to create and sustain positive customer emotions throughout the customer’s journey with your brand.

While not all products and services can generate the fantastic level of anticipation that Disney’s products do, we do believe all companies can aim to evoke passionate emotions and leverage the power of anticipation to elevate their CX. In our latest report, The Dawn of Anticipatory CX, we explain how to leverage the power of anticipation, describe best practices, and provide examples for creating more profound, more compelling brand experience stories that seduce, deliver, and sustain long-term positive CX impact.

This is only the beginning. With the dawn of anticipatory CX on the horizon, a whole new level of multisensory experiences will be ushered in, creating a seductive CX playground that will stoke multiple chemicals in the brain — elevating the entire field of customer experience with it.