CX technology: How customer experience leaders can drive a quicker path to implementationby
The digital transformation journey is taking enterprises twice as long and costing twice as much as they originally anticipated, according to Gartner. So how can CX leaders ensure that customers benefit from CX tech improvements in a more timely and cost-effective way?
Digital transformation is a very important part of today’s marketplace. It was big even before COVID. And COVID certainly accelerated the timeline for implementing digital projects.
According to McKinsey, COVID sped up digital tech adoption by 3-4 years. Digital adoption went from pre-pandemic phases of 1-3 years to days or weeks during COVID. Why? Company survival and thrival was at stake – people couldn’t get into stores, and face-to-face sales calls were out of the question. The only thing available was people at home, engaging with their computers.
Enter digital, and agile digital at that.
Customer interactions have become increasingly digital. And to stay competitive requires new digital strategies and practices. So, it’s no surprise that IDC estimates that global CX tech spending will reach $641B in 2022.
Even though organisations are accelerating digital transformation to align with growth and profitability, Gartner notes that “the transformation journey is taking large enterprises especially at least twice as long and costing twice as much as they originally anticipated.” Gartner also says in large part this has to do with cultural readiness – “53% of the organisations surveyed remain untested in the face of digital challenge and their digital transformation readiness therefore uncertain.”
Thus, it comes as no surprise that one-third of MyCustomer readers say technology is one of their biggest obstacles to successful CX programmes. And one of the biggest challenges is changing technology and/or vendors.
But where are these obstacles coming from? Does the vendor make it hard? Does the company make it hard on itself?
Whenever I hear 'CX', 'technology' and 'challenge' in the same sentence, I am reminded of Steve Jobs’ famous quote: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”
How can CX leaders help companies see the light to implementing new technologies within the organisation?
Ensure customer-first has priority over digital-first
Not that long ago I remember when the notion that AI and its applications could solve the world’s issues was gathering up steam in Silicon Valley. What happened was just about every organisation was scrambling to have an AI play. But nothing really happened. The applications just sat there collecting dust.
Why? Because a business case wasn’t created before the technology was implemented.
Conga, in its recent report, found that while almost three-quarters of companies surveyed were accelerating digital transformation initiatives, only 50% of those initiatives were successful.
Are companies implementing digital technologies for the sake of being digital-first at the expense of customer-first? When companies implement technology without regard to how the customer journey will be impacted, how the company’s existing infrastructure is aligned, how data is integrated, silos form and failure ensues.
Companies need to ask themselves three important questions before implementing technology:
- What is the purpose of this technology in my organisation?
- What is the business and customer problem I am trying to solve with this technology?
- How will this technology improve my customer’s experience?
CX technology is a strategy unto itself and must be treated as such. Some things CX leaders can do to help make valuable contributions to technology and vendor selection include:
Read blogs, books and whitepapers, listen to podcasts, attend events such as webinars and conferences.
Treat the technology as a product
Put your product manager hat on, ensure all appropriate stakeholders are involved in decision-making, and ask:
- How deep will we take the technology?
- What tasks will we use this technology for?
- Where is the data that the technology will need to access?
- Do we trust the data that the technology will need to access?
- What is the plan in preparing for implementation?
- What will success look like?
- What measures and metrics should we consider to track performance and ROI?
Define use cases
Ensure that the use case is properly defined with the appropriate level of detail, e.g. How will the technology be used?
Start small and with a subset of customers.
Keep customers top of mind
Do customers want this? Review your Voice of the Customer surveys and data. Gathering guidance from customers’ needs, expectations, and preferences will give you the business intelligence on how and where to implement the technology. Be sure to ask customers specifically about their needs when considering implementation.
Integrate with other channels in the customer journey
Determine how this technology will integrate with channels along the customer journey. Integration will ensure they have a consistent experience across channels. Integration will ensure they have a consistent experience across channels.
Getting CX technology into a high priority on the CTO’s agenda continues to be a challenge
A CTO is looking at value – what technology and associated vendors are going to make the biggest mark on the company’s ability to achieve desired business outcomes while delivering the best ROI.
If CX leaders don’t insert themselves into the technology discussion quickly, and make valuable contributions to build influence, those CX technology projects that they desire won’t make it to the top of the list or in the discussion at all.
What can CX leaders do about that?
Treat the CTO as your internal customer
Know them. Find out their pains, motivations, needs, agenda. Speak to them in their language and communicate with them so that what you are saying resonates with them. This action builds trust. Nurture that relationship consistently and frequently.
Build credibility with the CTO
Know the projects that the CTO has on the top of his/her agenda, volunteer to help, be the voice from a customer-centric perspective. This gives you two wins, you are championing the CTO’s efforts, and you are educating the CTO on the importance of customer centricity and CX to the overall health of the organisation.
Prove to the CTO that CX technology has a quick time to value
Let’s face it, everything we do in business today is tied to ROI. It has to. It’s the smart thing to do, because everything we do must tie to business outcomes. The same applies to CX and CX technology.
To introduce new technologies or new vendors, we need to ask the hard questions – how does CX help achieve desired business outcomes? How is CX responsible for customers sticking around, increasing customer lifetime value, and driving growth?
Time to value is equally important. Time to value (TTV) is similar to ROI but instead of realising the financial success, it implies realising effectiveness or the benefits of a solution.
What this comes down to is CX maturity. Sadly CX maturity is stuck.
Before the pandemic, Qualtrics XM Institute (formerly Temkin Group), in it’s annual survey of CX maturity, had only 6% of global respondents at stage 6 of its maturity model as follows:
Stage 6 is when CX becomes a mindset, where it is engrained in an organisation’s DNA. That’s definitely not good. Most of the respondents were at the ignore/explore stages.
To be honest, not a whole lot has changed. Recently, Zendesk commissioned ESG to conduct research on the state of CX maturity. ESG found that while 13% of global organisations achieve CX champion status, that top echelon of CX maturity, in the UK and Europe, that number is at 8%.
CX leaders must move the CX maturity needle in their own organisations.
It comes down to educating the C-suite, understanding who they are and communicating in a language that resonates and builds trust. And then doing whatever it takes to align culture, employee experience, and customer experience across the organisation. It takes time and effort. No magic beans. No silver bullet. It’s hard work. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your CX programme become a success overnight. But doing the right things to adopt a sound CX programme will shorten the path.
Infrastructure and supply chain implications
Sometimes implementing or changing technology is easier said than done. There are several considerations.
- How does the CX technology fit into a company’s existing infrastructure so there is seamless alignment?
- How does the CX technology affect the existing supply chain of delivering products and services?
- How will the CX technology help the customer’s journey and their experience?
- How does the CX technology impact achieving desired outcomes?
- Will the CX technology help the organisation integrate data and ensure said data is accurate and meaningful?
- What checks do we need to go through to ensure compliance to GDPR and data security?
- Will the new technology/vendor be agile enough to adapt to customers’ always-evolving expectations and needs?
- Will the CX technology enable deeper dives into metrics for more meaningful customer insights?
- Are teams aligned and are change management processes in place to manage this technology to improve your customers’ experience?
- Does the CX technology/vendor enable a 360° view of the customer?
This is a small subset of questions to ask.
CX leaders, through understanding the CTO, and their agenda, and working with them on projects, will become educated on technology and vendor implications and risks. Thus, they will be informed on key considerations, can do the research, interview vendors, and make very sound recommendations to the CTO on CX technology and vendors. A great exercise for CX leaders to do is conduct a SWOT analysis on technologies and vendors. This will help CX leaders make informed recommendations to the CTO.
When CX leaders can take the time to work with the CTO on technology and vendor considerations in a sound way, so they are well thought out, they will enable success in their CX programmes, and achieve desired outcomes for the organisation.
Sue Duris is Founding Principal at M4 Communications, a strategic marketing and customer experience consultancy that helps tech companies in the US and EMEA create successful customer experiences. Her focus is in strategy, CX design, voice of the customer, insights, CX technology, and loyalty...