What Does It Take to Get the Customer Experience Right?

CMOCouncilSAPHybris-Most-Important-Attributes-Customer-Experience-Jun2016Customer experience continues to be a hot topic, having recently been deemed marketers’ single “most exciting opportunity” of 2016 (as it was in 2015, and in 2014!). Now, a couple of new studies delve into the areas that marketers believe are most important to improving customers’ experiences.

The first of those studies, from the CMO Council and SAP Hybris [download page], asked more than 170 senior marketing leaders to identify the top 5 (of 16 listed) attributes and elements of the customer experience.

The leader, by a wide margin, was a fast response time to issues, needs, or complaints, cited by three-quarters of the respondents. This was followed by:

  • Consistency of experience across channels (55%);
  • Knowledgeable staff ready to assist whenever and wherever the customer needs (55%);
  • Clear, consistent messaging and information across channels (46%); and
  • A person to speak with, regardless of time or location (37%).

These responses seem to be generally in line with consumers’ own expectations. In survey results released last year by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a fast response to enquiries or complaints shared the top spot as the most important element of an ideal customer experience. Clarity and simplicity of information across channels was also a top-5 response, as was the ability to interact with the company over multiple channels.

In other words, both marketers and consumers alike believe that key elements of a strong customer experience include fast responses and clarity and consistency across channels.

What’s interesting to note from both surveys is that personalization ranks low on the list of attributes. In the CMO Council study, just 19% of senior marketing leaders said that recognition and view into the customer’s history with the brand at every touch point was a top-5 attribute. And in the EIU survey, just 12% of consumers cited a more personalized experience as being among their top-3 attributes of an ideal experience.

Personalization isn’t high on the list of actions organizations are taking to improve the customer experience, either. In a new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Accenture Interactive, developing and improving digital channels (60%) was the leading action being taken by respondents to improve customers’ experiences. Based on a survey of 702 global respondents responsible for customer experience at their organizations, the survey also found that brands are:

  • Developing and improving traditional channels (48%);
  • Improving analytic capabilities to improve customer insights (47%);
  • Making efforts to create more valuable content for customers (46%); and
  • Integrating cross-channel customer experiences (45%).

As for personalization? It was a little lower down the list: 39% said they are implementing or improving personalization efforts through assets like recommendation engines.

AccentureForrester-Actions-to-Improve-Customer-Experience-Jun2016

Still, as some of the fast facts below demonstrate, personalization does have a role to play.

Fast Facts

The following are some other interesting findings from the CMO Council report.

  • Thinking of marketing and commerce technologies that have already been implemented, respondents most commonly said that the gaps they will look to fill in the coming year relate to predictive analytics (47%), campaign management and measurement (45%) and personalization (40%).
  • Most (56%) respondents said that of the totality of data being collected across the organization, less than half is actually being integrated and harvested on a real-time basis for actionable customer insights and intelligence.
  • The greatest challenges to fully utilizing and harvesting data for customer insights have been: data trapped in organization silos outside of marketing (21% share); too much data to manage (20%); and getting the organization to bring on the necessary people and processes (19%).
  • According to respondents, the most important characteristics that make a contextual experience for their customers are: rapid response to customer actions, questions or exchanges (55% citing as among their top-3); delivery of experience in the channel of the customer’s choice or preference (46%); and experience based on past behavior and actions (41%).
  • Of the new and emerging technologies gaining momentum and hype, respondents overwhelmingly see big data-driven engagements and intelligence (61%) as having the opportunity to make the biggest impact on the customer experience and their organization. The next-most popular response was the internet of things (37%). Fewer pointed to live streaming video (18%) and in-store beacons (12%), among others.

The following are some other interesting findings from the Accenture Interactive report.

  • A slight majority (52%) of CX professionals believe that their brand’s digital customer experience is ahead of their competitors’, versus just 14% who believe they’re trailing. While only 7% believe that they’re exceeding their customers’ expectations, another two-thirds feel that they meet those expectations, leaving just one-quarter believing that their digital customer experience does not meet expectations.
  • CX high performers were more likely than other respondents to agree with a number of statements, including that: their organization is data-driven (86% vs. 67%); their organization believes it is important to include customers directly in their efforts to improve experience (90% vs. 79%); their entire organization is unified around shared customer experience efforts and goals (90% vs. 73%); and their customer experiences are consistent across digital channels and touch points (71% vs. 56%).

About the Data: The CMO Council report was based on a survey of more than 170 marketing leaders across the globe, 40% of whom are based in the Asia-Pacific region and 32% in North America. A majority (56%) have annual revenues of more than $500 million. Respondents were twice as likely to focus on B2B (42%) than B2C (21%), though the remaining 37% are a hybrid of B2B and B2C.

Forrester Consulting describes its methodology as follows:

“In this study, Forrester conducted an online survey of 702 customer experience decision-makers from enterprises in the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China to evaluate their organizations’ customer experience transformation efforts. Eleven industries were covered, including automotive, food and beverage, consumer product manufacturing, electronics/technology, manufacturing and materials, retail, travel and hospitality, telecommunications services, banking, insurance, and life sciences (pharma and medical devices). Survey participants included director, VP, and C-level decision-makers in IT, marketing and communications, operations, sales, customer service, and product development. Forrester additionally conducted in-depth phone interviews of 11 respondents fitting the same profile. Respondents were offered a small incentive as a thank you for time spent on the survey. The study began in April 2016 and was completed in May 2016.”