Face-to-face communications ranks as easily the most important customer experience (CX) channel today, according to results from a Genesys-sponsored survey of 516 senior-level executives conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). But fast-forward 3 years, and channels such as online assistance support, social media and web self-service will be about equally as important, the studyÂ suggests.
In fact, 39% of global respondents (the majority of whom come from companies with at least $500 million in annual revenues) predicted thatÂ online assistance support would beÂ one of their three most important CX channels in 3 years’ time, up from 33% giving it that importance now. Online assistance support will overtake face-to-face communications, which 45% feel is a top-3 channel today, but which fewer (37%) see as maintaining that level of importance in the years to come.
The fastest riser over the next 3 years, though, will be social media, predicted by 35% to be a top-3 CX channel in 3 years, up from 27% this year. In fact, executives from Latin America are more likely to rank social as a top-3 channel in 3 years’ time (37%) than they are face-to-face communications (33%). In the US, meanwhile, social media will also be a leading channel (33% ranking in their top-3), though remain slightly behind web self-service and face-to-face (37% each).
Sorting the results by respondent’s industry, the report demonstrates that, currently:
- Consumer goods companies are more likely to view web self-service (55%) as a key channel than social media (35%) or face-to-face communications (30%);
- Social media (54%) outranks face-to-face (46%) and web self-service (35%) for retailers;
- Commercial and retail bankers each see web self-service as more important than face-to-face and social media; while
- Professional services (68%) and manufacturing (54%) companies are heavily reliant on face-to-face communications as a key CX channel.
When looking at the respondents’ function, those in IT are most likely to see digital channels such as social media, web self-service and online assistance support as key channels today, while general management is most apt to view face-to-face communications and proactive communications to customers as important. Respondents involved in marketing and sales functions rate face-to-face communications and web self-service as their most important channels, but in comparison to the other job functions, are the most likely to point to customer insight and telephone operations as being important.
Interestingly, marketing and sales respondents are the least likely to measure the success of CX initiatives, with equal percentages saying they do (47%) and do not (47%) measure CX success. By comparison, 72% of IT executives say they measure CX success, as do almost 6 in 10 general management (58%) and finance (57%) respondents. The most commonly used success metrics for CX transformation activities, at least among North American companies, are customer satisfaction score (54%) and customer retention rate (41%), with other metrics such as ROI (26%) and customer acquisition cost (20%) not seeing as much take-up in this area.
Globally, for those respondents who don’t measure CX, the main reasons given are lack of access to the correlated CX outcome to activity data (37%) and the lack of automation processes (33%).
Overall, some 42% of senior executivesÂ globally report having increased their investments in CX initiatives by more than 10% in the last 3 years, and 51% expect to hikeÂ their investments that muchÂ in the next 3 years. Fueling those investments are key perceived benefits, with improved customer retention (33% share of respondents) and increased sales (28%) seen as the primary returns on CX. Notably, the largest companies (those with at least $10 billion in sales) are far more likely to cite increased sales (38%) than improved customer retention (23%) as the primary CX benefit, while the opposite is true for the smallest companies ($250 million or less), who are more motivated by customer retention (35%) than increased sales (22%).
About the Data: The report is based on a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit in April 2015 of 516 senior-level executives from 21 countries. The vast majority of these (464) were C-suite executives ”” of whom 165 were CEOs ”” while the remaining 52 respondents were heads of a business unit.
The respondents were based in four regions: Asia-Pacific (Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam); Latin America (Brazil, Colombia and Mexico); North America (Canada and the United States); and Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The US (11%) was the most heavily-represented country, while insurance (11%), IT and technology (11%) and manufacturing (10%) were the most heavily represented industries. Some 71% of respondents are from companies with at least $250 million in revenues, including 42% from companies with at least $1 billion in annual revenues.