Customer experience: Are organisations delivering on the promise or is it all semantics?

While organisations like to talk about providing enhanced ‘customer journeys’, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the usual customer experience (CX) is more like a ride in the back of a 1972 Kingswood – stopping at all the red lights – than a quiet, cushioned and driverless tour in a fully-optioned Tesla.

Digital strategies and CX appear to be at an impasse. Digital CX and customer demand for ‘digital’ are the top considerations for driving digital channel strategies, but uptake levels are behind our expectations.

In fact, despite all the hype around CX, it turns out only 10 per cent of companies consider their own digital strategies to be optimised, while 13 per cent rate their CX delivery a nine out of 10 or better.

That’s according to our new Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report which shows that while companies want automated channels to account for 40.9 per cent of customers’ interactions, only 21 per cent occur through these means. Perhaps unsurprisingly, customers are still using the telephone to resolve almost 59 per cent of interactions with organisations – a figure that those companies would prefer to sit at 39 per cent.

This signals somewhat of a digital failure – globally and locally.

Indeed, 55 per cent of Australian organisations surveyed for the report said they did not have a strategy for digital business in place at all. At best, they were in the process of developing one. Meanwhile, only six per cent reported having an optimised strategy for digital business in place.

At the same time, these organisations reported that improving CX was the top driver for – you guessed it – digital transformation. About 82 per cent indicated an uplift in profit resulting from improved CX, and 78 per cent highlighted cost savings. But despite this, only 28 per cent had a board-level executive responsible for CX.

All of this comes despite a recent prediction from analyst firm IDC that by 2020, half of the AU500 will see the majority of their business depend on their ability to create digitally-enhanced products, services and experiences.

So what’s going on? Ten years ago, the contact centre owned CX. But now, one of the key difficulties is that it’s hard to define what CX actually is ­– and what it should/could be. Furthermore, not only are there an average of nine different channels at play, but there are often just as many influencers and stakeholders dictating the vendor’s CX roadmap. This type of self-interest proves detrimental – disparate management is a threat that creates disparate systems.

The challenge for business leaders is therefore to align their organisations so that contact centres and digital teams are operating towards a common target. It requires a strategy that isn’t disjointed, and can factor in new technology advents such as robotics.

In doing so, organisations become better prepared to fulfil the customer journey regardless of the channel with which they engage. In this sense, we can almost describe the contact centre as the ‘Emotional Intelligence Centre’ of an organisation.

However, omni-channel is elusive because customer journeys need to be understood, designed and personalised. Today, only eight per cent of organisations have all the necessary channels connected, while 58 per cent are managed in silos, with 42 per cent of data not actively shared between teams. This disconnect deters from the sole purpose of today’s CX – to enable a seamless journey on the customers’ terms.

An even bigger concern is that large number of respondents (72 per cent) who reported that their organisations fail to collect data to review and optimise journey patterns and 76 per cent can’t identify blockages in the process. This is somewhat surprising considering the push towards big data and analytics. Unfortunately, only 48 per cent have an analytics system in place at all. This is particularly concerning as customer analytics was positioned as the second most important factor contributing towards positive improvement to CX.

So it doesn’t quite matter how good the driver is – human or otherwise – if the car’s a wreck, it’s not going to get you from ‘A’ to ‘B’ efficiently, if at all – especially if all the parts aren’t working together. This will become even more evident as the role of robotics expands and automation, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things increasingly shape how customers want to interact with brands.

Michael Slip is general manager, customer experience and collaboration, at Dimension Data Australia

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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