Employee engagement has surfaced as a major concern in delivering improvements in customer experience (CX), with 86 percent of CX executives in a Gartner, Inc. survey ranking it as having an equal or greater impact than other factors such as project management and data skills.
"CX is a people issue," said Olive Huang, research vice president at Gartner. "In some instances, the best technology investments have been derailed by employee factors, such as a lack of training or incentives, low morale or commitment, and poor communication of goals."
The Gartner study was conducted in February and March 2018 with 209 respondents in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Singapore, India, Canada and New Zealand. Respondents were from a wide range of industries and company sizes and heavily involved in a CX program, with 71 percent in a leadership position. One in five report directly to the CEO. Nearly three quarters of organizations surveyed have a dedicated CX team.
Organizations can consider undertaking hundreds of different potential CX improvement projects, but only a few can be funded. Survey respondents ranked personalization, voice of the customer (VoC), metrics and multichannel-related projects as the highest priority activities in 2018.
"The data tells us there is no CX silver bullet," Ms. Huang said. "CX leaders face a wide range of choices over project priorities and the mix of technology projects and skills needed to be successful. You need to prioritize investments based on ROI, and benchmark and measure customer experience improvements over time."
Technology investment priorities
In terms of technologies, customer analytics is considered the most critical technology investment for CX improvement projects. Customer analytics covers a range of different possibilities, and organisations attach highest emphasis on customer journey, customer needs and digital marketing analytics when prioritizing investments.
However, the range of technologies being used remains broad, from mature technologies like business process management, VoC and user experience (UX) design tools and platforms to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
Looking to the future, more than one-third of organizations are considering using virtual assistants to improve customer experience. This includes virtual customer assistants (VCAs), chatbots and virtual personal assistants (VPAs). Blockchain is being considered by 15 percent of organizations and 11 percent are considering AI.
Measuring the customer experience
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores remain the most commonly used metric (62 percent) followed by product/service quality metrics and employee engagement. Customer Effort Score is employed as a CX metric by nearly one-third of surveyed organizations and Net Promoter Score (NPS) by one-quarter of participants.
"The focus on measurement confirms that CX is becoming a cross-organizational, board-level priority," said Ms. Huang. "Among the more notable surprises in this survey is the increasing use of newer types of CX metrics like as Customer Effort Score. The reality is that organizations require a mix of metrics to measure CX."
The survey also found that return on investment (ROI) has become a major focus for enterprises, with 93 percent measuring ROI on their CX improvement projects.
Almost 50 percent of survey respondents indicated they had financial metrics in place to measure CX ROI as opposed to nonfinancial or informal metrics. In addition, 62 percent said their organization has received the expected ROI for its CX improvement projects in the past years. The realized ROI ranges from benefits for customers (such as increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy) to benefits for the organization (such as increased revenue, customer lifetime value, customer retention and profitability).
Further analysis is available to Gartner clients in the report "Customer Experience 2018 Benchmarks: Turning Return on Investment Into Reality."
Gartner Customer Experience & Technologies Summits
CX trends will be discussed at the Customer Experience & Technologies Summit in Sydney, June 18-19. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter using #GartnerCX.