Customer experience strategies are central to companies surviving in modern business, with organisations seeking to create customer-led operations where internal priorities are shaped by what’s occurring in the customer’s world. As such, a majority of businesses now see customer experience as a board-level priority – though more than a third do not adequately measure or evaluate their customer experience efforts.
The vast majority of business leaders now feel that market and customer preferences are moving faster than ever before. As digital disruption continues to give rise to swathes of new competitors across the industrial gamut, a market-leading customer experience (CX) can provide a much needed way for companies to stand out from the crowd.
The entire CX package comes as the result of every interaction a customer has with an organisation, from navigating its website to talking to customer service representatives and receiving the product or services which they purchased. According to new research from customer journey focused consultancy Gobeyond Partners, the increasing importance of CX as a differentiator means it is now largely perceived as a strategic issue which is so important that it should be driven at the board level.
Of 450 business leaders across retail and wholesale, financial services and banking, private healthcare, and insurance, 81% of respondents agreed on some level that customer experience should be considered a strategic issue which requires more senior level accountability. This was most strongly felt among individuals in the retail sphere – which is coming under acute pressure as firms vie for dwindling sales as consumer spending power continues to drop – with more than half of leaders saying they strongly agreed, and fewer than one-fifth disagreeing to some extent.
Broadly, a majority in every sector polled found that CX strategy should have board responsibility, however the other major outlier on this basis was the insurance sector. As the second most mature when it comes to thinking about CX strategy as a board-level priority, the industry is not only customer-facing on a variety of levels, but needs to tailor its offering to the needs and risks associated with millions of individual cases.
Despite being associated with insurance, however, on the other end of the scale, the sector least moved by the need to respond to customer experience was private healthcare. The fact privatised health systems are painted by their proponents as being more responsive to the individual needs of patients seems rather at odds with the fact almost a third of respondents in the sector were unconcerned with making CX a strategic concern.
The broad consensus that CX strategy should be a board priority does largely translate into action. More than eight in ten respondents said they worked in companies where there was clear accountability for CX, though it was usually diluted across several roles. While insurance was once again one of the leaders in this regard however – as only around 1% of its leaders said there was no clear accountability – retail lagged behind the average, with just under 15% of respondents stating there was no clear accountability. Healthcare again seems to show less maturity than the other sectors, with 18% of respondents reporting no clear accountability.
Further to this, Gobeyond Partners found that there was still a clear need for senior executives to be knowledgeable about customer experience, and importantly, measure it across the entire customer journey. The results revealed that 36% of organisations surveyed only measure CX at specific touch-points, and not across the entire customer journey, whilst 12% of UK businesses are not measuring CX at all. Rather it was 50% of companies who do indeed measure CX across the entire customer journey which were found to be 1.4 times more likely to report revenue increases over the last 12 months, than those that do not.
Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners, commented, “For organisations to win in the race for customer loyalty and stronger profitability, they will need to successfully marry great technology and innovation with a major focus on what this means for customers and employees in the transformation journey. Taking this ‘human lens’ will differentiate the quality of solutions offered, drive greater efficiency in getting there and will better engage their people on the change journey.”