Research reveals the CX 'disconnect' damaging brands - and how it can be solved

CX disconnect
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New research indicates that organisations are undermining their investment in the customer experience with strategic shortcomings. 

Regardless of industry, sector, and company size or maturity, the customer experience (CX) is now almost exclusively recognised as the number one driver of digital transformation and top strategic measurement for organisational performance.

Worryingly though, despite enjoying such critical acclaim over the past few years, a worrying gap has opened between CX ambitions and capabilities. So while it’s true that almost nine in 10 companies acknowledge CX as a competitive differentiator, Dimension Data’s 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report reveals a staggering 70% admit customer experience is not represented at board level.

Clearly, there’s a concerning disconnect between recognising the importance of CX and bringing it into the spotlight as a critical business imperative. What’s more, this discord is also negatively affecting how employees perceive their customer experience offering, with almost a quarter of professionals (23%) admitting they’re dissatisfied with the customer experience they deliver, and only 11% saying their CX would lead customers to recommend them to others.

How to close the gap: From top to bottom, and from the outside in

With the majority of organisations relying on either non-board level or divisional managers to own separate and disparate customer contact channels and customer related business functions, it’s imperative that a clearer ownership structure needs to be established when it comes to the customer experience.

The concerning fact is though, only 17% of professionals indicate that their company takes an integrated, organisational-wide approach to CX. Failure to collectively prioritise customer experience, involve the entire business in its application, and give it a seat on the board is a false economy and represents an unnecessary additional risk during a time of considerable competitive market change.

Clearly, there’s a concerning disconnect between recognising the importance of CX and bringing it into the spotlight as a critical business imperative.

Best practice shows that appointing a single person accountable for the customer experience across the organisation ensures the right structure and processes for delivery are in place across every customer touchpoint, which contributes towards an organisation-wide view of CX and a coherent CX strategy.

However, only 56% of organisations globally say they have a single person accountable for CX, down from 64% in 2017. A quarter of companies employ a separate manager for each channel, while a concerning 12% say ownership for CX is unclear. This ‘siloed’ approach is hindering both digital capability and workforce optimisation, making it difficult to execute the strategic desire to transform.

Learn from the best: Who’s leading the pack, and what are they doing differently?

Encouragingly, many companies are now recognising the need to react in order to fend off the threat of digital disruption posed by fast-growing start-ups, whose products and services are almost exclusively built on a customer’s needs and wants.

Big global players such as Alibaba, Google and Amazon are unashamedly branching out into new sectors such as financial services to satisfy customer demands, while in retail, experiential marketing focused on exciting and delighting shoopers is fast becoming the status quo.

These pioneers are making CX a success by defining, building, and delivering their strategies from the outside in. A customer experience strategy has to be designed around the customer first, and distributed for organisational-wide buy-in second. Market leaders are doing far more than merely revising processes and points of contact – they’re transforming their thinking and entire culture.

Focus on analytics, self-service, and omnichannel prove technology is the differentiator

The rise of data analytics, self-service solutions and omnichannel is enabling many forward-thinking organisations to build next generation platforms to ensure rich and rewarding digital experiences for their customers.

When asked to identify the top three trends that take priority for their CX team, analytics (51%), self-service solutions (37%), and the integration of technologies to create an omnichannel approach (34%) were the most common technology changes underway.  These elements combine to drive CX through customer journeys that are specifically designed to deliver value for both the customer and the organisation.

Automation, particularly in terms of operational efficiency, is critical for companies looking to not only improve costs, but also to drive increased customer analytics and business intelligence. Leading organisation are using data to remove waste, drive productivity and growth.

It’s cyclical; using automation to improve one area will invariably have a positive impact on another. Whether that’s by reducing queues and waiting times in contact centres through personalised enhanced engagement and service accessibility, or reshaping customer engagement to be far more proactive – there’s no doubt the application of automation and advanced analytics is unlocking some real transformative potential.

Nearly a third (30%) of businesses confess the digital solutions they’ve rolled out (such as chatbots and AI) don’t provide the functionality their customers need.

Nonetheless, research indicates there’s still significant value in traditional face-to-face customer interactions, so companies must be careful of not tipping the balance too far in favour of technology, putting themselves at risk of becoming a faceless and untrusted corporate machine.

And despite significant investment in technology, nearly a third (30%) of businesses confess the digital solutions they’ve rolled out (such as chatbots and AI) don’t provide the functionality their customers need, while more than half of respondents (57%) said customer awareness of such technologies is the biggest barrier to adoption. Appropriate automation, quality over quantity and harmonisation with valuable human engagement are essential ingredients to success.

Strategy first, technology second

Clearly, technological advantage is nothing without the right customer-centric business strategies and attitudes to ensure the technology actually does its job. With almost one in five companies operating without a formal CX strategy, it comes as no surprise that so many organisations are seeing low net-promotor scores and little commercial improvement, despite investing heavily in new digital channels.

It's equally clear that far too few organisations are engaging directly with their customers or using data analytics to transform customer data into market and customer intelligence.

While bringing all areas of the business into the same conversation should be seen as the starting point, the lack of a coherent CX strategy that’s fully focused on the customer will leave many companies struggling to remain relevant as the world continues to undergo such rapid and dramatic change.

About Rob Allman

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20th May 2019 09:15

Given the importance of customer experience, it is amazing that so many organisations still seem to be operating in a silo-based approach. Unfortunately our own research backs this up, with many leading UK brands able to respond on one channel, yet failing to do so (or answering inconsistently) on others.

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