Efforts to understand and improve the customer experience have evolved from a niche strategy into a key differentiator for companies worldwide. Companies are making strides in analyzing the customer journey to identify, optimize, and capitalize on opportunities to deliver the right experience at the right time to customers.
And companies are making significant investments in tools, technologies, and strategies to be more customer-centric. So, what’s next for competing on the customer experience? Here are 5 trends impacting the state of customer experience that CX practitioners should watch, based on research from the Global State of Customer Experience 2019 report by Maritz CX and CX Network.
1. Data analytics is evolving
Data analytics continues to be one of the biggest trends in the CX space. It plays a major role in determining the identity of a customer as well as aiding in personalizing the customer experience. More specifically, executives are interested in collecting and analyzing info about their customers’ future mindset and emotions, intent, and digital behavior.
It is worth noting that data analytics has also made it possible for emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to flourish. AI is rapidly shaping CX strategies today. Enterprises are applying AI to their solutions not only to personalize their offerings, but to also serve as an alternative to human interactions. An AI future is already here and expect organizations to further utilize the technology in the years to come.
2. Leaders face continued pressure to find the ROI in CX
Despite claims of being customer-centric, corporate culture, mindset, and biases still hinder company efforts to move away from a product-focused mentality. Change in organizational culture normally takes years to implement and most companies have a hard time linking CX to a return on investment. The Maritz CX and CX Network report suggests that CX practitioners face increasing pressure to quantify and justify the value of the customer experience such as by “rationalizing outlay to improve the brand’s customer experience based solely on predictions of increased future revenue.”
The report goes on to list initiatives that CX practitioners believe would help them address this challenge, such as using marketing CRM systems to build automated personalized conversations to remove biases, as well as senior executives granting CX leaders greater authority and support.
Though hard to calculate, ROI is not the only measure that helps determine the effectiveness of a CX strategy. Companies can also track its success by seeing the changes in buying behaviors. A separate report from the Temkin Group in 2017 noted that customers who received good CX are “3.5x more likely to make additional purchases” while “promoters are 4.2x more likely to buy again.”
Top Trends, Challenges and Investment Priorities for Customer Practitioners in 2019
|Top Trends||Top Challenges||Top Investment Priorities||Investment Challenges|
|Data analytics (42%)||Building a customer-first culture (39%)||Customer journey mapping (33%)||Demonstrating ROI (53%)|
|Digital CX (41%)||Linking CX initiatives to ROI (32%)||Digital CX (27%)||Integration into existing tools (42%)|
|Customer loyalty & retention (27%)||Competing priorities (26%)||Customer insight (24%)||Integration into company culture and processes (42%)|
3. Data blindspots remain overlooked
Most companies allot a budget of $0 to $50,000 for CX initiatives, with top priority investments directed toward customer journey mapping, digital CX, and data & analytics, according to the Maritz CX and CX network report. However, predictive analytics did not make it in the CX practitioners’ top 10 areas of investment despite predictions from industry analysts and solution providers. This misalignment, according to the report, is probably because CX practitioners “feel they first need to break down data silos and fill profile gaps in data lakes.”
Aside from issues with creating a flawless CX, gaps occur when brands fail to acknowledge that customer behavior varies; what works for one customer does not necessarily work for all. However, some companies have proven that by effectively marrying CX journey mapping, digital CX, and data together, they are able to identify pain points and personal preferences, among others, bringing in a more tailored approach to its customers.
4. Leaders are dragging their heels on employee engagement
Keeping employees happy and engaged has a huge impact in transforming the customer experience. Front-line employees dedicate a huge amount of their time to listening and dealing with customers, thus making them a reliable source of information of customers’ wants and needs. However, despite acknowledging the need to invest on employee engagement, it did not rank in the top 10 spending priorities of CX practitioners.
Retaining great employees is as important as acquiring new customers. Employees are also consumers outside the office, and considered as important promoters of a brand. Companies should realize that any initiative that would boost an employee’s connection to the brand will help them appreciate it better, and that every single thing that they do is significant to its growth. By lagging in this area, the goal to reach the ultimate customer experience will never come to fruition.
5. The push for a digital customer experience accelerates (but obstacles remain)
As customers continue to switch to digital, organizations are now building their digital experience strategy anchored in three pillars: create a clear CX vision (67 percent), understand customer behavior (67 percent) and build customer loyalty (74 percent), according to the report. More than half of the surveyed marketing and CX executives by CX Network, however, are struggling to provide an omnichannel offering.
The demand for a better customer experience drives companies to change the pace of their game, and somehow follow the same path that led disruptive companies such as Apple, Amazon, Disney, and Uber, to success. What sets these four brands apart is their ability to successfully transform the customer experience, disrupting not just their respective industries, but the entire global market. And while the bar for becoming a disruptive company is rapidly rising, the companies that start with a customer-first culture and mindset have the best chance to succeed.