Three-quarters of organizations surveyed by Gartner, Inc. increased customer experience (CX) technology investments in 2018. Customer analytics continues to be one of the biggest investments, with 52% intending to increase funding in 2019, focusing on customer journey analysis, customer needs analysis, voice of the customer (VoC) and digital marketing.
Gartner's 2019 Customer Experience Innovation Survey gathered data from 244 respondents in seven countries in North America, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific, across a wide range of industries — 26% were from Australia and New Zealand. The objective of the study was to understand the priorities, technology investments and high-stakes situations faced by organizations in their CX initiatives.
The survey reveals that when organizations grow in CX maturity, a greater focus of technology investment is placed on increasing customer understanding and delivering accurate actions by analyzing data. At the same time, CX programs expand from a core team to a wider group of employees. The requirement for change management makes employee training tools an important technology investment.
According to the survey, the top five CX project priorities in 2019 are metrics (64%); VoC (50%); increasing speed of product and service launches (45%); product proliferation and personalization (45%); prioritization of CX investments (44%); and customer journey automation (44%).
“Knowing where your strengths and challenges lie and the next steps needed to improve maturity will help with project prioritization and planning,” said Olive Huang, research vice president at Gartner. “Also, extend your spending to different technologies as your CX maturity increases, paying particular attention to customer analytics investments.”
According to the survey, the top three emerging technologies expected to have the biggest impact on CX projects in the next three years include artificial intelligence (53%), virtual customer assistants and chatbots (39%) and omnichannel engagement solutions (37%).
High-stakes situations have negative impact
The survey reveals that many organizations have faced crisis situations in their CX program within the last three years. Economic or financial pressure has impacted the highest proportion of respondents (53%). For those with lower maturity levels, 60% had CX initiative launches stalled due to lack of executive support, and 59% found it difficult to demonstrate value or ROI, which leads the CFO to question all future investments.
“High-stakes situations impacting CX programs can result in the removal of funding for a CX initiative or its cancellation, or even employees losing their jobs,” Ms. Huang said. “This may lead to a decline in the quality of the customer experience, weakened financial performance of the organization and erosion of its competitive position.”
According to Ms. Huang, there are many actions you can take to avoid these situations or reduce their impact, from securing management buy-in to improving technologies that support change management programs, such as employee training tools.
“Pay special attention to building recruitment, retention and succession plans for key technology leadership roles related to CX,” Ms. Huang said. “Candidates for these roles are often hard to find and highly valued in the job market.”
Gartner clients can learn more in the report “Survey Analysis: Customer Experience Maturity and Investment Priorities, 2019.”
More information on customer experience strategy can be found in the Gartner CRM and Customer Experience Strategy Primer for 2019.
About Gartner Customer Experience & Technologies Summits
Customer experience trends will be further discussed at the Gartner Customer Experience & Technologies Summit 2019 taking place June 17-18 in Sydney. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerCX.