Will 2019 be your CX program’s ‘bifurcation point’?

Evaluate your CX program against these indicators. 

The Bifurcation Point.  Have you heard that term before?  I did, many years ago and wondered what it was.  Chuck McFall, a well-respected expert and consultant in the area of product management first introduced me to the term.  The dictionary defines bifurcation, “As a process in which something splits in two”. Bifurcation is a word that sounds fancy but has this very simple meaning.   There’s also a mathematical definition, but I’ll spare you that one. 

Regardless of how we define the term, the question at hand is whether your organization is at the point of bifurcation when it comes to CX?  Will it continue to grow and expand or lose momentum and fail to deliver the expected results? 

In the past 30 years or so, we’ve had many experience-type initiatives: process re-engineering; TQM, Six Sigma, The Malcolm Baldridge award, and the Disney Institute to name but a few.  Flash forward to the 2000’s and we have journey mapping, design thinking, centers of excellence, JD Power awards and Zappos tours.  None of these approaches are wrong.  We took on these methodologies because we were seeking ways to solve our most challenging business problems.  We weren’t chasing windmills, we were chasing something, anything that would grow profits for our organizations.  (Yes, I said profits – after all – isn’t that what improving CX is all about?)

So where did all those initiatives lead us?  What have we accomplished? What are the indicators that CX as a practice and within your organizations could be at a bifurcation point?

Fragmentation – despite our proclaiming from the mountaintops that CX must be end-to-end, I see it being parsed out as one-off, silver bullet style initiatives that lack continuity, be it a voice of the customer program; journey mapping exercise or customer management software platform in the cloud.  All must be tied to an overriding CX strategy to be most effective. Everything needs to be aligned to the organization’s CX vision. 

Lack of definition – Quick!  Define CX – for your organization; for the industry; for a function – you name it.  Some definitions exist, no doubt…. but let’s put a bunch of CX experts in the room and see if we can arrive at what CX is, does and produces for an organization.  Defining it is difficult but required so we can align to the strategy.  Lots of resources exist to help define CX.  Check out www.CXPA.org for a list of the CX competencies as a starting point. 

Commodization – seems like a strange observation for a non-tangible item like CX but don’t dismiss it too quickly. Everybody’s using the term, customer experience!  Sales people are now customer experience consultants; contact centers or customer service functions have become CX centers of excellence.  We toss around the term as if it were a beach ball at a sporting event instead of a profession for which many seek to pursue.  We need to ensure our efforts retain their value to our organizations, employees and customers.

Leadership Attrition – We CX professionals don’t last long in our positions.  Perhaps it’s just a stepping stone for some?  Perhaps others get worn out with constantly defending what we do?  And some may be successful enough to be promoted to positions of greater responsibilities.  I often hear CX professionals lament the lack of investment and buy-in from senior management.  But that’s not a reason to move-on, it’s a reason to fight-on.  There’s a desperate need for qualified professionals who understand the business value of CX. 

Technology is the solution.  While I love our friends in technology, the notion that technology is the be all end all to solve all our CX issues is simply not true.  It certainly can enable CX, but to suggest that we can deploy a new platform that will improve CX – without the benefit of understanding the desired customer experience first is not worth the risk. 

Whether we call it a bifurcation point or crossroads, I remain optimistic that the future is bright for CX.   The great progress being made in many organizations shouldn’t be overshadowed by the lack thereof in others.  Together as a profession we can help each other realize success in our CX programs so the bifurcation point is upward rather than downward!



Robert Azman