What are the key challenges impeding customer experience improvements?by
Gartner's Michael Chiu discusses what the research house found out when it surveyed organisations about what is preventing them from delivering better customer experiences.
Gartner defines customer experience (CX) as the customer's perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier's employees, systems, channels, or products. As CX becomes a top priority for organisations, those supporting CX should understand what is holding back improvements to CX.
The 2021 Gartner Customer Experience Priorities for IT and Business Technologists Survey examined organisations’ CX priorities, challenges, metrics, governance structures and technology investments. One of the questions asked was: "What are the top three challenges preventing your organisation from delivering an improved customer experience?" The challenges most frequently provided in response to this question include a lack of clarity or visibility about actions taken, technology limitations, weak cross-departmental coordination, and resistance to change.
Lack of clarity or visibility about actions taken
34% of those surveyed placed ‘lack of clarity or visibility about actions taken’ in their top three challenges.
From a forward-looking perspective, clearly articulating CX objectives, plans and actions is a must, as is answering questions such as the ‘why’ ‘how’ and ‘why now’ of CX. By continuing onwards to answer the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question for employees, organisations can drive further alignment and reduce the risk that a lack of clarity will impede CX.
From a backwards-looking perspective, be clear about the outcome(s) of CX actions already taken. For instance, prior to a major CX action being taken, make a prediction as to what the outcome will be and why. Once the action has been taken, observe the results: were these consistent with the predicted outcome? Why or why not? Engage your organisation in such discussions.
Additionally, celebrate the success of CX improvements by recognising the employees who were involved. This not only fuels momentum but also encourages a continued focus on CX initiatives.
32% of those surveyed cited “technology limitations” in their top three challenges.
This calls attention to a central tenet of CX: that it is “outside-in,” and not “inside-out.” Organisations need to start with the needs of customers (“outside”) and be willing to restructure internal operations to meet those needs (“inside”), including its technology.
This finding could also refer to a general limitation of technology available in the market to achieve CX objectives, or limited budget to acquire the necessary technology. Assess where technology is limiting your CX, identify gaps, and think through ways to close them.
Weak cross-departmental coordination
31% of those surveyed cited “weak cross-departmental partnerships/coordination” in their top three challenges.
Successful execution of CX requires close coordination amongst departments. There are several ways to foster this type of collaboration, for example through the formation of a CX steering committee with representation from several departments within an organisation. Another idea for improved coordination is to bring together representatives from departments that influence a given customer journey and hold a customer journey mapping workshop.
Resistance to change
27% of those surveyed cited “resistance to change” in their top three challenges.
Organisational inertia and the desire to retain the status quo are common within many organisations, which in turn can impede CX. To mitigate this risk, it can be helpful to socialise the benefits of CX and address the “what’s in it for me?” question. But ask the inverse of such questions as well: what are the consequences if we choose not to act? What CX improvements have our competitors made recently, which we have not, and why?
CX often focuses on ambition: products to launch, objectives to achieve or enhancements to implement. But knowing what is holding back CX is just as important. Assess what is holding back your organisation’s CX improvements, and identify ways to mitigate the effects of these impediments.