The short answer: No.
The slightly longer answer: Sort Of. About as well as you can predict anything else!
For starters, you can certainly try. By trying to predict, you’ll at least be paying attention.
But the challenge is the same with marketing, or sales, or most anything in business. You see, customer are people. People are totally irrational. We say one thing and do another. We claim loyalty and then abandon ship! We say we want features and then claim the newfangled thing is too complicated.
So while it will never be a perfect science, here is my advice:
1. Always use a combination of structured and unstructured data to monitor customer stats.
If you are just relying on one data input point, like an annual customer satisfaction survey, you are missing too much. Look for ways to measure concrete numbers (CSAT, retention rates, churn rate) and combine with the less concrete data points. Ask your front-line employees to grade customer enthusiasm levels, totally subjectively. Monitor social media sentiment. Review the verbatim responses from those surveys religiously. Look for gems.
2. Pay attention to the marketplace.
Over and over and over again, the big company is knocked over by a “sudden” competitor. Of course, these competitors aren’t sudden at all, they were carefully studying the successful companies ahead of them and then filling in the gaps. Now that barriers to entry are lower than ever, your competition is not only filling in gaps, but they are creating new standards for your customers. What do you mean you don’t offer free shipping? Zappos does! If you aren’t paying attention to the shifting landscape, your predictions will be weak.
3. Ask. Track. Ask Again.
Customers will be honest with you, as much as they can be. The important thing is to ask your customers what they like/don’t like/want/etc. Then track their actual behavior. If they tell you they definitely want and extra shiny doohicky, it’s important to track if and how they’re actually using a doohicky. Sometimes in our quest to please customers, we actually create a shiny obstacle. Pay attention to if your innovations are actually improving the experience.
Predictions are hard. Just ask the tv weather personalities! It’s important to blend art and science to get a clear picture.
How do you predict customer experience success?