Improving customer experience (CX) is a top priority for enterprises thinking about digital business outcomes. Ahead of Gartner Application Strategies & Solutions Summit, we asked our analysts what challenges exist when it comes to CX strategies.
What are the main challenges organizations face with their customer experience strategies?
- Executives — who are demanding market differentiation and a demonstrable ROI
- Employees — who reside in siloed empires, fight for ownership of the customer and are usually culturally inept
- Customers — who have high expectations, more power and a willingness to churn
- Technology — requirements that are diverse and complex, with legacy systems unable to adjust to a more customer-centric approach
As a result, there is no “silver bullet” for delivering a great customer experience. It requires a relentless focus and a myriad of initiatives, both technical and otherwise. However, with time, the rewards will come for those committed to the long game.
Customers are happy to the extent that organizations live up to the explicit and implicit promise that, in a time of need, that need would be met fairly, accurately, with all appropriate speed, on the best engagement channel. Organizations make a mistake in focusing on the myth of the 360-degree view of the customer, rather than uncovering the view and the information that matters to the customer. We recommend a better approach: Define the specific experiences that the customer wants and expects, measure how well you provide that experience, and then fix the process. Finally, select and harness technologies to address the processes required for a great customer experience.
CIOs, IT leaders and nearly everyone else in the organization are being asking to “improve the customer experience.” But they aren’t getting much clarity into what that means from a strategy, technology or even metrics perspective. This leaves the IT organization with a daunting task — improve upon something for which no benchmark has been provided and in a way that is ill-defined alongside stakeholders within the organization who have not been defined.
Governance. Discovering and coordinating all the existing capabilities and new projects being undertaken by all the different departments across the organization is a challenge. Although marketing, customer service, sales and operations obviously impact CX, so do supply chain, finance, HR, billing, manufacturing, logistics, field service, maintenance — indeed, every department in the organization. Holding those with leadership roles accountable can be even trickier given the siloes in most companies or government bodies.
Metrics. Measuring CX is always problematic, as each department uses different metrics and KPIs. No two organizations have exactly the same set. Creating a dashboard, tracking, correlating and seeking causalities all take effort.
Resources. Overseeing and measuring are difficult, but reallocating resources in terms of budgets and human help to meet or exceed customer needs requires agreement at the highest level. This means that executives need to share a common level of ambition and vision for where they want to be with their CX in a defined period of time. The pressures on the head of CX come from customers who have more power than in the past due to access to information, employees who have often seen previous failed efforts, executives who want quick results and ROI, and from the combination of legacy tech holding things back and rapidly emerging new technologies enabling new experiences.
The main challenges facing organizations with their CX strategies is that often the strategy is only the deployment of a new technology and nothing else.
Many organizations skip building a CX vision statement to guide the organization. When this happens, the organization skips answering questions like:
What kind of experience do we want to deliver for our customers?
What problems/wants or needs are we solving/delivering for our customers?
What does a good experience look like to our customers?
Why do we want to deliver this type of experience for our customers?
Without the answers to the what and why, the “How do we do this” part of the strategy turns into “Let’s just throw new technology at the problem.” Think about how many dead mobile apps were intended to improve a customer experience only to be rejected by customers because the apps didn’t help them with their lives.
Another common mistake is thinking that process automation is CX. That only works if it drives down costs for the customer or eases their lives. If the customer gains no value from it and their experience is still the same, then it’s easy for them to leave your organization.
The bottom line here is that to have a successful strategy you need to take the time to determine what you want to do to help you customer and then answer “How can we do that? Answering the how makes for a great CX strategy. Commitment and execution are needed for the long term, but once you get in the habit of doing this and keep repeating it, you will be on the road to delivering great long-term CX for your customers and contributions to the bottom line.