CX – 2018 Year in Review

With the year drawing to a close, what trends and technologies have characterised the past 12 months in the world of CX?

The Human Touch

Over the past few years, many businesses have been focusing heavily on automation. Every process has been streamlined and replaced by bots or technology, with organisations reacting to the overarching digitalisation trend.

But this year we have seen the return of the human touch in customer service. Some interactions simply don’t add value without human interaction, and often it’s the human aspect of a customer journey that really sets the experience apart. Businesses are realising the importance of this – but the tricky part is deciding which touchpoints are better automated, or better left as a human interaction. There’s certainly a right time and place for each interaction – and the best CX programmes support seamless transitions between both.

This is particularly crucial at what Forrester calls your ‘X1’ moment – defined as ‘critical and elemental contact between your customers and your business, upon which the rest of your CX hangs’ (Forrester 2018). This is something organisations simply must be getting right – whether that’s the human touch, a faster transaction or something more specific. Forrester use the example of Delta Airlines, who discovered that their X1 was availability of advertised flights. Delta discovered that, after a period in which cancellation rates were high, users were simply heading elsewhere to fulfil their travel needs.


The enforcement of GDPR was one of the biggest changes for businesses in 2018. Enforced on 25th May 2017, General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, has overhauled how businesses process and handle data.

Rightly so, the legislation brought customer data privacy into the limelight. Customers have become much more aware of how businesses use their personal data and their rights, especially in light of recent stories about how organisations have misused or sold data for commercial or political gain.

Businesses have had to overhaul their processes not only to meet GDPR regulations, but also to meet customer demand. The approach to data security has become far more customer-centric, with customers now in the control seat, determining who has their data, understanding why their data is being collected, how it will be used and how long their information will be stored for. It all comes down to trust and transparency.

One downside of this change, however, is that companies have potentially lost out on a huge amount of data from their customers who have opted out. Companies are having to learn how to do more with less data while still providing a high-quality, personalised experience.

Personalised Service

Personalisation is one of the biggest ways customer expectations have changed in the past year – customers now expect personalisation at every touchpoint and interaction. By using data analytics, organisations are now able to provide personalised content almost in real-time.

Mass emails are now becoming a thing of the past. Businesses understand that they now need to add relevancy to the equation, rather than bombarding all customers with the same blanket email. With the help of big data, companies, particularly in the retail industry, can segment their customers into different target areas, send specific promotions according to someone’s browsing or purchase history or send a personalised email around birthdays or anniversaries. 

And it’s not only the content that’s personalised – you have to be visible in the right channel at the right time, for each of your customers.

Insight Focus

Many organisations have had a CX programme in place now for a number of years – what once was a revolutionary scheme has now become common practice in businesses. However, this year it has become clear that not all of these programmes are fulfilling their purpose, with many organisations still feeling a lack of deep insight about their customers and a lack of actionable outcomes to help shape their business strategy.

Companies are now shifting their focus to insight and action. They want to see that their CX programme is delivering ROI and improving their business’s customer experience significantly. Clear recommendations that instigate business change have been placed firmly on the agenda, and we expect that this is a trend that’s here to stay.

“Listening to customers can identify opportunities, avoid mistakes and positively impact word of mouth...”

Mark Squires, Chief Executive - Watermelon

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