When it comes to customer experience (CX) predictions, there’s an elephant in the room that’s dominating our thinking this year: money. Why? Because proving that CX delivers business results has turned into a career-defining issue for people who work in this (still very new) field.

The number of CX executives will grow by at least 25%.

Here’s what a diverse group of our analysts and CX Council advisors see in the coming year:

  • One in four CX pros will lose their job. CX leaders who can’t prove their value to the business will find themselves on the street, just like the dozens of high-profile CMO positions wholly eliminated in the past year — including those at Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, Netflix, McDonald’s, and Kellogg’s. Those who do keep their jobs will do so by ensuring that their metrics and measurements relate to what matters most: KPIs with a dollar sign in front of them. We expect that financial services industries will be hardest hit by CX job elimination, especially in retail banking and investment firms. This dynamic will also be important in B2B firms, where executive teams tend to be even more skeptical about the business impact of CX relative to other factors such as price and contractual lock-in.
  • Paradoxically, the number of CX executives will grow by at least 25%. At companies that do have a firm grasp of the economic benefits of customer experience, the surge in newly created positions for chief customer officers (and equivalent titles) will continue. As we finish out 2019, we see hiring at the executive level and one rung below continuing at a rapid pace. This includes a major regional bank looking to put a chief customer officer in place and a major investment firm seeking a senior head of CX strategy. Although this will create new jobs, most of them will not be filled by CX pros who lost their previous positions due to failure to make a business case. Instead, firms will raid competitors with successful customer experience improvement programs and also promote from within, tapping experienced business leaders with track records of success in non-CX roles, like marketing and product management.
  • Taking away the wrong lessons, some firms will worsen CX by turning to dark patterns. Dark patterns are designs that trick customers into doing things. CX and design professionals who feel increased pressure to optimize conversion rates will try to copy the success that dark patterns have had in areas like mobile gaming. This will cause a surge in the adoption rate for dark patterns across commerce sites, as well as social media platforms that are fighting for fragmented consumer attention. In response, technology companies such as Apple, Google, and Samsung will offer even more “digital diet” tools and “deception blockers” to help people moderate their use of media platforms and spot the dark patterns trying to trick them. Governments will also take action. Expect more legislation that attempts to prevent the use of dark patterns, such as the DETOUR and SMART Acts, as well as a 16-point plan from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office. The result: CX professionals who try to take the shortcut that dark patterns falsely offer will find that it’s a dead end.

Read our report for more details and more 2020 customer experience predictions. To understand the major dynamics that will impact firms across industries next year, download Forrester’s Predictions 2020 guide.