Vice President Analyst Gartner Marketing practice
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The common mistakes that kill CX programmes in their infancy

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Many companies have embraced CX. But few have developed this into a mature, self-sustaining programme that enables enterprise-wide, customer-centric culture. Gartner's Augie Ray explains why. 

12th Apr 2021
Vice President Analyst Gartner Marketing practice
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Many companies have embraced the concept of customer experience (CX). However, relatively few organisations have achieved a mature, self-sustaining CX programme that enables customer-centric culture and significantly improved customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

Many of the hurdles that prevent CX programmes from thriving start within the programme’s infancy, and they tend to seed the programme’s eventual downfall. This includes: setting the wrong goals, seeking customer understanding in all the wrong places and failing to invest in the right resources for success.

Let's look at how these three significant mistakes sabotage CX efforts as well as what you can do to avoid — or resolve — them.

Mistake #1: Failing to focus on customer-centric outcomes

Often, organisations will focus on how their CX programme benefits their business rather than the customer when it should be focused on fostering improved customer relationships that earn trust, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

For example, a CX programme that results in a reduction in interaction and operational costs may seem like a success — and indeed it is a great business result. But without measuring how this programme affects or is perceived by your customers, then it lacks customer-centric CX impact.

When you skip the customer and focus only on efficiency, you’re not executing CX. The competitive landscape is littered with efficient companies that possess weak customer relationships, high churn rates, and poor reputations. The goal of CX isn’t just to be efficient at managing customers; it’s to be effective at keeping and growing them.

At Gartner, we use the term “Customer first, company also” because it illustrates the symbiotic relationship every effective CX programme should possess. Proper CX execution isn’t about altruism for your customer to the detriment of the company; it’s about investing in what customers want, need, and value to improve your relationships in ways that enhance retention, growth, and word of mouth..

If you start with the wrong goals and vision, you cannot be surprised if your CX programme fails to deliver the desired results.

Mistake #2: Looking in the wrong places for customer insight

When searching for customer insight, many CX programmes look in all the wrong places. For example, many consultancies and agencies will start their CX discovery phases by interviewing senior leaders within the client organisation. This approach makes these leaders feel relevant and in control and raises the vendor’s visibility to key decision-makers in the client organisation. But it fails to acknowledge the reality that every CX programme must start with an understanding of the customer, and there is only one source of wisdom for that: the customer.

While every CX project requires support and input from leaders and employees to be successful, the place to start is with Voice of the Customer (VoC) data, customer and user research, and customer listening. You cannot expect customer-centric results if your CX programme is built on a foundation that lacks customer insight and understanding, nor can you measure your customer impact over time without the right listening programmes in place to constantly gather and analyse customer feedback, sentiment and experiences.

Mistake #3: Failing to invest in the right resources for CX success

CX must be treated as a discipline that requires resources, staffing, and commitment. Yet it’s not uncommon to find:

  • CX leaders who treat CX as a part-time job in addition to their “real” job
  • CX leaders whose entire budget is based solely on project work rather than a consistent and ongoing commitment from senior leadership
  • CX leaders who must proceed without customer understanding because the organisation won’t invest in the VoC programme or customer research necessary

Your organisation expresses its priorities in several ways, including what it measures, what it staffs, and where it spends its cash. If your leaders promote customer obsession and implore employees to be more customer-centric, but they still measure and reward success only in short-term financial terms and leave their CX programme understaffed and underfunded, then they are neither customer-obsessed nor customer-centric.

CX leaders can earn greater leadership support by demonstrating the business value delivered by strong customer relationships imbued with exceptional satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. And having earned that top-down support, strong CX leaders then develop the right tools to improve customer-centric knowledge, behaviours and actions at all levels of the organisation. That means investing in more than just internal communications and training programmes to convince employees to be more customer-centric.

Healthy, sustainable CX programmes gather and disseminate customer insight, facilitate and maintain the right personas and journey maps, foster the necessary collaboration across the organisation, and challenge the status quo. A CX programme that’s doing its job shouldn’t provide those within the organisation the warm feeling they’ve achieved customer-centric outcomes but should challenge everyone from leaders to front-line employees to question what more needs to be done to create unshakeable customer relationships.

With the right goals, the right customer understanding, and the right resources, your CX programme can and should be a source of differentiation, powerful customer relationships, and the kind of retention, growth, and reputation competitors will envy.

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