Each year, Forrester analysts come together to develop our predictions for the new year — to help our clients see around the corner and prepare for potential pitfalls and opportunities. Our customer experience (CX) analysts collaborate on a set of global predictions, based on trends that we expect to see in the coming year. We use those predictions to set the context necessary to create a burning platform for action.  

We unveiled our Predictions 2023: Customer Experience late last year and dove into two of those predictions in greater detail in a complimentary webinar in mid-February. This is the first of two blog posts covering the content we shared at the webinar. Here we focus on the predictions themselves. The second post covers the questions we received in the Q&A. Our large and highly engaged audience had many questions about what’s coming up this year. 

Prediction 1: CX differentiation will erode in three-fourths of industries.  

Forrester’s annual CX Benchmark Study is our source for tracking the quality of experiences at the industry and individual brand level. Our review of seven years of data revealed that tracked industries fall into one of four interesting patterns of performance: 

  • Convergent. Brands in these industries are becoming less differentiated over time because lower-performing brands are improving while higher-performing brands are declining. 
  • Competitive. In these industries, brand differentiation is decreasing because lower-performing brands are improving at a faster rate than higher-performing brands. Higher-performing brands are either flat or improving at a slower pace. 
  • Consistent. Brands’ degree of differentiation has remained consistent over time because scores for the industry’s highest- and lowest-ranked brands have remained stable. 
  • Contrasted. In these industries, brand differentiation has increased over time because the range between the highest- and lowest-performing brands has widened. 

Eleven out of 13 industries (77%) fall into the first three categories, all of which describe decreasing differentiation. What is behind this drop?

  • Quality of experiences are not improving. CX Index scores dropped between 2021 and 2022 for the first time in seven years. This suggests companies are losing focus on their CX efforts, perhaps because of competing internal priorities or the added challenge of solving more complex CX issues (once the low-hanging fruit has been picked). 
  • Companies are less customer obsessed. Forrester’s research shows fewer companies are currently exhibiting the characteristics of customer-obsessed organizations (3% in 2022 versus 10% in 2021). Failure to keep customers at the center of how companies operate and make decisions will continue to erode CX differentiation. 
  • Consumer perspectives are changing. A third major cause is the increasing importance of values among consumers. Specifically, fewer customers perceive that brands’ values align with their own. Also, some companies are returning to pre-pandemic policies and practices, causing consumers to question why services they came to value during the pandemic (e.g., curbside pick-up) cannot be maintained post-pandemic.    

Recognizing these trends is the first step in proving us wrong. Our hope in sharing these predictions is that we can provide you with the tools to counter these trends.  

Prediction 2: Four in five CX teams will lack critical design, data, and journey skills.  

Forrester’s data shows that CX programs identify CX strategy, voice of the customer (VoC), and CX measurement as the top three responsibilities for CX teams. Each is identified as a key responsibility by more than 40% of respondents to our Q1 2022 Global State Of Customer Experience Programs Survey. Unfortunately, our data also shows that only around one in five respondents’ teams have the skills to execute on these top priorities, such as journey analytics and survey design.  

Avoid getting wrong-footed by answering three questions: 

  • What should you be working on? Forrester has identified six priorities for CX leaders, starting with establishing, funding, and scaling the CX function, and encompassing everything from insights to design to making the business case for CX. Review your organization’s strategy for the year and determine where you need to place resource bets to deliver on mission-critical goals in accordance with your firm’s expression of customer obsession. 
  • What skills do you need to do the things you’re working on? Once you know where you’re placing your bets, take a hard look at what will give you the best success. For example, creating a winning CX strategy requires business analysis, storytelling, customer research, and ROI modeling skills (among others). Be critical and unsparing in identifying your needs — and determining whether the skills you need are on your team now or can be borrowed from other parts of the organization. 
  • How do you close any skill gaps? Consider the budget you can employ to address skill gaps and use every tool at your disposal. Free courses available through edX or MIT’s OpenCourseWare provide great opportunities for targeted skill improvement. Forrester’s CX Certification can be purchased for standalone use — for a team or even the entire enterprise, and it’s bundled in Forrester Decisions to enable easy integration of the research, tools, ongoing guidance, and certification classes. 

Want to learn more about Forrester’s CX predictions for 2023? Catch up on the recording to get the full scoop and listen to the live Q&A. You can also go to Forrester’s Predictions Hub to learn about all of our predictions for 2023. Forrester clients can also request an inquiry or guidance session on the prediction of their choice at any time. Not a Forrester client? Contact the Forrester account team and tell them, “I want Forrester Decisions!”