Gartner Predicts a Customer Experience Battlefield

Will organizations be able to deliver transformational customer experience? Digital disrupters point the way.

The connected economy continues its path of creative destruction, so much so that it is changing the nature of competition itself. Nearly all companies surveyed by Gartner (89%) believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016. For example, consumer product companies that have relied on developing new features, improved customer service and product innovation to drive growth now see a future where competitive advantage will be based on the customer experience.

Customer Experience Is The New Battlefield

In many industries, hypercompetition has eroded traditional product and service advantages, making customer experience the new competitive battlefield, says Jake Sorofman, research director at Gartner. With an overabundance of alternatives and ubiquitous access to pricing and product information, consumers have little reason to remain loyal to a particular brand.

Will organizations be able to deliver transformational customer experience? Mr Sorofman says that native digital disrupters point the way. Consider how:

*     Lyft encourages their drivers and passengers to share their stories on social media, so they all feel like they’re part of one big team
*     Netflix autoplays the next episode and starts it after the opening credits
*     Zappos will go to three competitors’ sites to try to help you locate what you want to buy if they don’t have it

Companies Worry They Can’t Keep Up

Less than half of companies see their capabilities in customer experience as superior to their peers, but when asked to assess those same skills five years out, two thirds of those same companies believe they will be “industry-leading” or “much more successful” than their peers. To narrow the capabilities gap in customer experience, organizations must implement new tools, new people and changes in culture.

Mr. Sorofman recommends organizations design persona-driven buying journeys and invest in ethnographic research to uncover customer insights. People also play a role in delivering great customer experiences. Business leaders should consider appointing a chief customer officer as the locus of responsibility and authority for driving experience innovations across channels.

Favor Bold Redesigns

Finally, consider the impact of culture. Break out of the habit of incremental feature-driven innovation in favor of bold redesigns that deliver transformational customer experience. Redirect investment dollars away from traditional product investment to those innovations.

Growing your business will depend on your ability to deliver convenience and delight consumers in today’s connected economy expect. The rules of competition have changed; the battlefield has shifted. It’s time to prepare.

Gartner for Marketing Leaders clients can read more about the findings and advice that relate to this article in the report, Predicts 2015: Digital Marketers Will Monetize Disruptive Forces.