According to Gartner research, CX is recognised as a priority with 76% of executive leaders surveyed indicating they see CX as critical to meeting the organisation’s business goals. Organisations with an effective CX strategy were less impacted by revenue loss during the pandemic years.
While encouraging to see the emphasis being placed on CX by leadership, what specific strategies do organisations need to focus on to shape their CX strategy? Let’s take a closer look at the four trends of CX investments:
1. Transformation of voice-of-the-customer (VoC) programs
Leading organisations are moving beyond surveys and expanding methods to include indirect and inferred feedback. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60% of service organisations will adopt analytics technology to supplement traditional surveys. This is done by analysing customer voice and text interactions. These methods include digital analytics, social media analytics, sentiment analytics, and speech and text analytics. With this, organisations can tap into insights unavailable via survey. Overall, this will provide a more holistic understanding and overall customer knowledge.
These transformed VoC programmes are vital to ensuring customer data and insights are shared across customer service, sales, marketing, product, finance, and supply chains. Use the knowledge to drive alignment in how the organisation will respond to differing customer needs.
2. Focus on end-to-end customer journeys
The second trend we see is a broader focus on understanding the overall customer journey. By 2025, 65% of teams will expand their CX efforts beyond just a focus on the path to purchase. It will instead encompass the end-to-end customer journey.
Organisations that focus ‘beyond the buy’ will be better positioned to meet customer and company expectations in challenging market environments. Resilient organisations will re-frame their strategy around supporting customer objectives first.
Cross-functional integration and governance are key to success. Successful CX programmes require consistent practice. CX programmes that over-deliver are:
- 1.9x more likely to have customer persona development in place for more than three years
- 2x more likely to have end-to-end customer journey mapping in place for more than three years
3. Continued investment in CX-related technologies
Technology continues to play an important role in enabling broader and deeper customer understanding.
There are a few standouts here that companies should be evaluating:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This is the first choice among respondents, with the highest incidence of being in the top three respondents. This is consistent with prior-year surveys as AI and associated technologies have permeated just about every technology capability we see. The most common uses of AI for improving CX include:
- Personalisation of communications, product recommendations or offers
- Customer journey analysis for next best action mapping
- Intelligent contact routing
A single customer view, customer analytics and voice of the customer feedback are all investment areas that ranked in the top 10. This response is consistent with what we hear from clients. Most recognise that CX initiatives have little chance to succeed without a clear understanding of customer needs, wants and behaviors. By prioritising these customer experience technologies, companies can gain a greater understanding of their customers.
Flexible digital experiences
Organisations need to meet customers where they are. This means investing in multiple digital experience touchpoints. This includes portals, digital experience platforms (DXPs), content management, digital commerce and mobile. Additionally, companies should consider applying automation to streamline processes and provide relevant content experiences.
The global pandemic and the resulting disruptions have amplified the need for customers to be able to do things without the assistance of a live person. Customers often choose self-service offerings to solve issues. But insufficient issue resolution information and issue complexity lead customers to abandon self-serve solutions and opt for more expensive, live-assist options.
To offer customers better experiences, leaders should identify self-serve use cases and best fit channels; present self-serve as the only option for proven use cases; and dedicate company resources to improve execution of the technology solution continuously.
This is now the biggest category of enterprise software and one of the fastest growing. The smaller an organisation is, the more likely it is to mention CRM when asked which technologies it uses to improve CX. Most organisations underestimate the number and types of CRM applications available and, as such, few use as many types of CRM as they could benefit from. Companies should understand the range of options available to create the best match of applications for their business needs.
Gartner expects investments in AI, driving a single customer view, and delivering flexible digital experiences will continue as top investment areas.
4. Building for Better Experiences
Companies must implement a model organised around the following categories: customer, organisation, relationships and experience. This will help them organise efforts around building customer relationships and leveraging their insight from VoC; customer journeys; and technology.
This type of model provides a business architecture and strategy that will act as an organising principle for whatever role-based or functional technologies you may use to manage your customer relationships. At the model’s center is the customer – the starting point for the organisation. This customer, or set of customers, is in a relationship with your organisation. The model recognises that the customer can go through more than one relationship stage in any given interaction.
The experience membrane surrounds the customer and relationship stages. Think of the experience membrane as a set of principles, even etiquette, that governs the relationship between the customer and the company – like preference management. The membrane protects your customers from a siloed organisation and helps it ‘act as one’ in all customer matters.
Finally, there is the supporting base: all the resources, workflows and interactions that result in an experience. Leveraging this model will ensure a clear focus on the customer and their relationship with your organisation.
Organisations must always keep in mind that investments in technology are only one part of the answer. Better customer understanding and how that translates into better end-to-end customer journeys are critical to building an organisation’s CX capabilities and achieving business objectives.
At its core, customer experience is about people – their feelings, perceptions, and relationships with your organisation. Organisations must continue to strive to balance automation with capabilities to drive deeper customer empathy.
This article was co-authored by Beth Coppinger, Senior Research Director, Analyst working in the Supply Chain CSCO Strategy and Planning team at Gartner; and Don Scheibenreif is a Distinguished VP analyst in the Gartner IT Leaders Practice and co-author of the book “When Machines Become Customers.”