Most marketers today understand the importance of Customer Experience and often find themselves leading the charge on cross-functional alignment on CX within their organisations.

Countless studies have shown that CX drives results – Forrester found that CX leaders tend to deliver compound annual revenue growth rates of 17 percent (compared to that of three percent by CX laggards) and Deloitte found that consumers’ decisions to buy products or services are affected by their overall enjoyment of their experience.

But despite the clear and highly attractive benefits, very few organisations seem to be getting CX right, which is especially worrying because by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator according to business consultancy Walker.

So what seems to be going wrong? Recently, Acquia decided to host a Twitter chat with some leading CX experts to uncover what challenges marketers are facing, the role of technology, and what organisations need to do to get it right.

These are the insights that came from the chat:

Understanding customers is still the biggest challenge to a connected CX – and technology is not a silver bullet

The first challenge for all marketers in any industry (in both B2B and B2C) is to understand the customer. Understanding customers doesn’t just mean knowing their age, location, gender or job title – it means understanding their attitudes, what drives them, and trying to anticipate reactions to certain triggers or offers. If you don’t understand your customers, you’ll never be able to create a connected Customer Experience.

Often, when an organisation knows little about its customers, they opt for an ‘omnichannel’ approach, and try to target consumers through every channel under the sun with the same offer – rather than targeting the right offer to the right person through the right channel. Very few organisations have the resources to offer an optimised experience on every single channel, and so for most companies, they find themselves spreading their resources too thinly, and leaving a bad impression or experience with customers.

Successful companies that do understand their customers well know that they need to break down data silos within their organisation to help create that ‘one view’ of the customer they need to create a more seamless experience across channels.Technology on its own does not ‘solve’ the problem of CX.

We would all love to invest in a technology that made our work problems go away, but no CX technology exists that will make the challenges of CX disappear overnight.

Although technology does help you to stay better connect with customers, storytelling is still an important ingredient. As one contributor to the Twitter chat put it, “Some of the best CX I have seen have been start-ups with little money and basic technology who know how to brand themselves and tell a story that customers deeply relate to”.

And as another person put succinctly: “It’s an enabler to assist, not the creator (of CX).”

GDPR is not a barrier for personalisation

In fact, GDPR is a positive move for personalisation. Now that you’ve had a chance to purge your CRM system of useless never-would-be customers, you can focus truly on the customers who have already indicated to you that they’re interested in keeping in touch by opting in to marketing communications.

And for new customers, look to get their permission early on in the sales process. After all, you’ve spent money driving them to your website or landing page so it makes sense to reduce your acquisition costs wherever possible so you don’t keep paying for them to come back, then nurturing them again at the top of the sales funnel.

And the key for any personalisation efforts? Honesty and openness. Customers want to know what you’re using their data for and how safe their data is in your hands. If you can demonstrate your trustworthiness and security, GDPR shouldn’t be a barrier to personalisation.

People still can’t agree on who should ‘own’ CX

This was perhaps the most surprising aspect of the conversation on Twitter. As part of the chat, we asked the question: “What teams are primarily responsible for CX, and does this need to change?”

I was fully expecting a consensus, but we had a plethora of different contradictory answers. Some argued for a dedicated team within an organisation to manage CX. Others argued that CX should be a board-level responsibility. Others still argued that CX should automatically be the responsibility of the entire organisation.

I’m more inclined to agree with the last group, as one user put it: “CX is a major contributor to conversions and revenue, and so it should be a key KPI and focus for all. Giving it to one team allows other teams to believe they are absolved from responsibility.”

After all, everyone in an organisation is a representative of the brand and will therefore have an impact on CX in some way or another.

Measuring the success of connected customer journeys need not be difficult

One Twitter user said: “We tend to think of it (CX) as something airy-fairy and hard to measure – but it’s not.”

And she’s absolutely right. The best way to measure the success of CX is to use the same KPIs you already use to measure other business objectives. Metrics like customer churn, NPS scores, spend against those who engaged, sentiment, and more are all ways you can measure CX. They key is to find out what metrics are most relevant to you, and then use them and track them over time.

Which brings me to our conclusion. What was clear from the Twitter chat was that everything should start from a sound base. First create a platform through which you truly understand what drives your customers’ behaviour and attitude. Secondly, accept that solving the problem of CX isn’t just a case of switching on some technology, and finally, get your whole organisation on board that they should be thinking about the customer in everything they do.

Then we might see some actual movement.

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