The Uncertainly Certain Path Ahead for Customer & Employee Experience

The Uncertainly Certain Path Ahead for Customer & Employee Experience

Customer and employee experience management has always been an enigma for executives and marketing professionals grounded in traditional business theories to understand and, more importantly, put their wallets behind. Traditional executives think and see marketing, sales, and cost-cutting as their only levers to drive business performance – and understandably so. After all, what worked in the past must surely work in the future, right? Fortunately, a growing number of business leaders, more than 80%, recognize that their current business model is at risk because of a lack of innovation.[i] And any savvy business practitioner today knows successful innovation finds its wings through both customer-centric design and customer performance indicators (CPIs).

The nuanced nature of understanding customer and employee emotions and how they translate into adoption, loyalty, and referability for companies requires a deeper unpacking of the operational associations between investments and tactical actions. Unfortunately, a lazier and presumably easier way to make those connections all too often relies on retrospective survey data – which, faulty cognitive recall and inherent biases aside, simply regulates CX professionals to the role of metric managers, often obligated to engineer numbers that serve the interests of executives with bonuses tied to beacon metric results.

Zooming out to the larger market scenario post-COVID, a noticeable decline in the quality of customer experiences becomes apparent. Forrester’s research sounded the alarm that 20% of US brands suffered a drop in their 2022 CX Index scores – a prevailing market benchmark that compares the quality of customer experiences between brands within a market. Adding to this, a recent study by CCCW Digital found that 57% of customers surveyed believe that customer service quality has gotten worse year over year.[ii] Adding to this, a scan of LinkedIn or Glassdoor will show a decrease in the number of senior customer or employee experience-specific roles steering better experiences for brands today. So consequently, for the nearly 80% of companies where CX is not a part of their DNA or ethos, it is predicted that one in five CX programs will disappear in the coming year.[iii]

Surface-level observation might fuel concerns that with declining customer experience quality and fewer influential roles to impact the course of decision-making significantly, the future of customer and employee experience seems uncertain, even teetering on a slow demise. Perhaps it’s a death by a thousand surveys.

The good news is that the practice of experience design and management isn’t going away anytime soon. CX and EX, as we know it, are undergoing a makeover. With people’s emotions raw from living through the uncertainty and disruption of the pandemic that the experiences of customers and employees need more proactive attention than ever before.

The strategy and creative practice of designing and managing experiences is moving into its next natural carnation. It’s an evolution aligned with a new “work anywhere” reality while firmly planted in the pragmatism of today’s dynamic business needs. As one astute consultant aptly puts it:

“Now it’s less about the title and the role of a CX leader, and it’s more about what problems you are solving for your company or for your customer with an experience lens.”

The issue of hybrid work is an outstanding example. Since being thrust into the opportunity-rich reality of remote work today, executives across industries share a common struggle to attract and retain key talent while fostering a more accessible work environment that stays productive and retains the unique qualities of past work culture. In a recent article, Forbes spotlighted the “The Rise of the Chief Workplace Experience Officer” – a new role tasked with defining and designing employee experiences internally and crafting a distinct differentiated advantage that sets the company apart as an employer of choice externally.[iv]

In reality, customer and employee experience plug gaps in companies of all sizes – gaps no other role can bridge as effectively. Imagine employees wrestling with multiple logins and systems to compile information for customers or internal stakeholders. It’s a common scenario in most call centers today. An inefficient, mistake-prone operational maze causes external customer breaks and unhappy, frustrated employees. While not fully the mandate of the tech team or the HR team, or the COO, it becomes apparent that a dedicated customer and employee experience-focused team is the missing puzzle piece that brings the expertise and user foresight to design and deliver a better end-to-end service journey. What you call it then becomes irrelevant.

Amidst the swirling uncertainties that cloud the future of customer and employee experience as a career in our current landscape, the unwavering value of prioritizing human needs and experiences first remains the guiding principle. It’s time to shift attention from the over-reliance on surveys and recenter on product and service design that genuinely moves the value needle for users. Collectively, we can be confident that in doing so, the practice’s future remains bright.

[i] McKinsey & Company; Growth & Innovation report:
[iii] Forrester Predictions 2023 Blog: CX Teams Thrive or Wither:
[iv] (edited)


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Ryan Hart

Ryan is an experience strategy leader passionate about helping teams innovate and drive growth at the intersection of experience design, brand, and digital across global markets.

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