The Future is Now: Exploring the Future Developments in Customer Experience

Troy Barnes, Chief Customer Officer, Pizza Hut

Troy Barnes, Chief Customer Officer, Pizza Hut

I love having conversations with colleagues, past and present; friends from other industries talking about the challenges in growing their business, how to acquire customers, keeping their existing customers and the topic of disruption. The industry vertical silos have been broken down, particularly when comparing your ability to give customers an experience that is relevant, meaningful and personalized. When thinking of the “how” in the future, the focus should be on the “now” and the gold mine we all currently sit on.....

I recently spoke at a Customer Experience conference with more than 200 practitioners in the room. I opened my section with a question “How many in the room have had a meaningful conversation with one of their existing customers in the last…. 1 Year, then 6 Months, then 3 Months.” By the time I got to 3 months we were down to 3 people. I was shocked to see how far away our CX leaders were from their existing customers.

Taking a step back, whilst all organizations have their unique pressures, obstacles and opportunities to grow and grow fast both on a tactical and strategically sustainable nature, let’s look at what assets you have now and explore future opportunities now!

The recipe for sustainable growth comes down to 2 simple ingredients: attract new customers, and retain the ones you have for life

For me, the recipe for sustainable growth comes down to two simple ingredients: attract new customers, and retain the ones you have for life. More importantly, the existing ones you have are your most significant source of growth.


Two examples come to mind—how data in the financial services organizations are losing anywhere up to USD 50 million per year in customer attrition. On the retail side, getting customers to buy one more time has shown to increase revenue by as much as USD 10m per year in a small to medium density market.

Almost every organization I have ever interacted with has information about me (as their customer), other customers that they serve, and yet the ability to keep them seems to be lost and in many instances, too late and they have moved on. According to various reports including one by Bain & Co., the cost of acquiring a new customer is approximately 6-7 times more expensive than retaining your existing customers, however when we look at our spending, allocation of resources and time—where is it going? And how much of it is invested into retaining that pot of gold in our midst.

Think about it for a minute. You have customer information, purchase history, some contact information etc. and before we start thinking about AI, prediction, analytics and the like, ask yourself who has reached out to the customer of late? Who has engaged your existing customer to see how they are going, ask them for some feedback, check to see why they haven’t been back for a while and perhaps offer them something relevant, valued and personalized to increase their engagement with you.

This data is quickly becoming the lifeblood of every organization across all industries—the ability to monetize it responsibly will be key—both now and to future proof organizations.


For the companies out there who aspire to grow annually at 5, 10, 20, even up to 50 percent annually—is there a way to extract this value from within? All other things being equal, which would mean, at a minimum one in every 20 customers would need to double their annual spend with you? When the visibility (data) of your existing customers can provide the insights into their relationship with you—a whole new world opens. One of the ways to do this is to have all the relevant customer information on one screen. Having been a part of this work myself, it is amazing that the simple yet delightfully quick insight you get and the opportunity to have a great positive impact on your customers and boost your relationship with them at more personal level to helping your business grow in a sustainable way.

With this example above currently in operation, I can now see how my customer and their family are served and/or protected financially, but I also can see where they are not—now I can act relevantly to their needs and quickly. This gap is enormous in so many banks and insurance players, but the sense of urgency to capture this seems a little passive.

In the retail, food and hospitality industry, what would it be worth to capture an additional 1, 2 or 5 repeat purchases beyond their current spend with you based on relevant information that you already have. The key to finding this out is in the data. Unlocking the power of data and insights that create relevant and personalized experiences and the needs of your customers, will certainly increase the likelihood of retaining these customers and their loyalty, hence setting your business up for future growth. But this is a journey, and continuously enriching the lives of your customers is a must to retain their business.


We have seen first-hand the power and influence of leveraging data to provide more personalization and more relevance to those customers we serve. We have also seen it used irresponsibly and with regulators tightening their restrictions on this area, it will come back to your customers’ trust in the use of their data with you and its impact to make their experiences more meaningful. Find out how people like to be engaged— empathize, experiment and find out what is relevant and valued. Then tackle the challenge of getting them back again or more often and keeping them as advocates and gain their trust. Then, in turn, your new customers will come.

Whilst the unknown future and all its potential may be exciting, pause for a moment and look at the pot of gold under your nose and take action—unlock the power you have in your grasp to engage your customers better than ever and continue to personalize their experiences making each one of them feel valued as one of your customers. It is exactly here where the excitement and opportunity beings.

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