2017 wasn’t kind to Customer Experience. In a phrase, customer experience underachieved.
In its Predictions 2018: A Year of Reckoning report, Forrester noted that based on data from its 2017 CX Index, customer experience had plateaued or declined for most industries and companies. It reasoned that while customer experience had some early wins, it wasn’t delivering on the hype.
The big problem is that customer expectations are outpacing companies’ ability to meet these expectations and deliver experiences customers want. Digital transformation is the key. Yet, too many companies are dragging their feet and ignoring what is happening in the marketplace. More than 60% of executives believe they are behind in their digital transformation. The reason? As Forrester notes, “digital transformation is expensive; CEOs can’t drive operational savings fast enough to fund it and are cautious about destroying margins.”
And, even if companies engage in a digital transformation project, 84% of these projects are likely to fail.
In addition, Confirmit and Engage Business Media conducted a State of CX survey that generated similar results.
The research found that ROI is the biggest area of failure with only 20% of companies scoring 9 – 10 for seeing an ROI. Also, only 30% of respondents said that key stakeholders invested in the goals of the program. This clearly is not a ringing endorsement for customer experience’s value.
As Claire Sporton, SVP CX Innovation at Confirmit notes: “Many businesses are able to provide anecdotal evidence or use key metrics to measure CX program success, but very few are able to link the CX program with financial results. Without the ability to demonstrate ROI, it is much harder to gain support of the C-suite, set the right goals for the business and secure the desired improvements and culture change across the business.”
There has been much concern and many frustrations with customer experience in recent months. Thus, companies are re-thinking customer experience plans.
What is the problem with customer experience and where do we go from here?
I ran a survey on LinkedIn and asked customer experience professionals what were their biggest frustrations with customer experience.
The responses have been quite revealing. The following is a sampling:
“…the most frustrating thing is to see companies that still focus on short-sighted outcomes that seem to only benefit the company, rather than mutual benefiting customers…” (Matt Beckwith)
“A big frustration that may exist with the Customer Experience is matching what the customer is needing to what is actually provided. The customer can be emotional with their buying decisions. The business must be understanding to these emotional clues. Yet, these vital clues can be missed due to deadlines and other internal pressures.” (David Beaumont)
“Most brands, mine included, talk a good game about CX. But when it comes down to it, they are inconsistent, at best. A small group somewhere in digital marketing tries hard, but they are rarely connected with the customer service folks, so the great plans they make rarely get implemented.” (Mike Myers)
“CX is a business strategy that must integrate into compensation, culture, strategic planning, systems, product design, sales, branding, marketing and customer service. Companies that do it well don’t have a team or a department dedicated to customer experience. It’s embedded in their DNA. It’s exhausting to see CX reduced to saying yes to a customer’s every whim. Or, front-line employees tasked with doing whatever it takes to make a customer happy, or fluffy vision statements. So, I’m ready for some real talk and some hard truths. Several years into this “movement” where every software is going to revolutionize your customer experience – all I see in my professional and personal life is more of the same.” (Laura Balentyne)
“My biggest frustration is that the phrase “customer experience” itself is thrown around so loosely without meaning or understanding behind it. It is not the same as customer satisfaction. So many people add Customer Experience to their title, resume or even company-wide goals without understanding the mutli-faceted disciplines that are built into it. As a result, when companies add enhanced or strengthened Customer Experience as an overarching goal, they expect overnight change and don’t expect the long-term journey. Ultimately, they fall short. More often than not, simply because they didn’t understand what the end goal was to begin with. Without a clear understanding of what Customer Experience is and what it is made of, success will be hard to reach.” (Debbie Szumylo)
“The failure of too many people who run organizations to understand that it requires skill and competency to make it a tangible reality!” (Ian Golding)
“I see two prevalent CX challenges in many large companies. Problem 1: Fuzzy CX Goals (minimal understanding of loyalty drivers for key products, how company performance compares to nearest competitors/alternatives on those drivers, and lack of goals to surpass competitors/alternatives. CX improvement and innovation is not targeted or effective without this understanding and focus). Problem 2: Lack of end-to-end CX Ownership (no individual charged with end-to-end accountability and authority for each company products/offerings.” (Mike Kendall)
“Complete fixation on the number in the customer satisfaction or NPS survey results and failure by leadership to recognize the value that lies in the verbatim comments and then acting on what they learn.” (Jane Treadwell-Hoye)
“One of my biggest frustrations about customer experience is how many companies actually prevent their frontline customer service agents from being free to help customers because they don’t want to let these employees make decisions on customers’ behalf. They don’t want frontline agents to step out of their lane. So even if a caring, flexible frontline agent could make the customer’s experience better when the mobile app isn’t very usable or when the desired product will be out of stock for seven weeks, managers often say, “No. Stick to the script. Quote the policy.” These caring agents could make the Customer Experience better, but not without their managers’ trust.” (Leslie O’Flahavan)
“The ROI recognition! CEOs want to see quick short term cash incremental and they do not understand how CX works to create solid, medium to long-term substantial growth!” (Ali Malik)
“Is it too simple to say “It’s hard work”? It’s one thing to identify opportunities to improve the experience. It’s another thing to align the people and resources in an organization the right way to make it happen.” (Jeremy Watkin)
“Break down silo walls. The politics between two departments who say they will cooperate but stymie any efforts to bring about change is very frustrating.” (Doug MacGregor)
“…when people throw around the term “customer experience” but don’t understand that “customer experience” starts from within an organization. With so much focus on the external customer, sometimes the internal “customer experience” (or your employee experience) is diminished.” (Jenny Dempsey)
“My biggest frustration with customer experience is that most experiences don’t focus on the customer. They’re focused on the business goals and converting “users”, not solving PEOPLE’S problems.” (Talia Wolf)
“I’m thinking a lot about the b2b customer experience these days. Companies don’t consider the customer’s point of view relative to the experience they receive. We can all do better to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer across the lifecycle.” (Dave Duke)
“My biggest frustration is the lack of investment or programs within an organization for all employees to understand digital foundations. There is a solid opportunity for continual personal and organizational growth and success when everyone is on board!” (Kelly Hungerford)
“The biggest frustration is companies not realizing that customers now are more educated then before. Companies are still pushing their vision onto customers rather then helping customers to move towards their vision.” (Varun Goel)
“The mismatch between what senior managers think customers think about their CX and what customers think.” (David Tovey)
“Not recognizing the value of every employee’s role in shaping a customer’s experience with a brand and involving them in innovating to drive greater value together.” (Patrick Sells)
“My biggest frustration is that most business owners and managers don’t hire the right people, and they don’t train them in how to deliver amazing customer service.” (Kirt Manecke)
“Customer service for many companies (in my experience) is about saving the company money, not about improving the customer experience. CSRs are a company’s customer face. Yet, they appear to be paid the least. This leads to unengaged CSRs and poor service.” (Jeff Snedden)
“Lack of real leadership buy-in and commitment to CX beyond words and proclamations. And seeing CX as a program instead of a way of life.” (Rodney Smith)
“That most companies still confuse Customer Experience with Customer Service, often using the two interchangeably.” (Divia Moorjani)
“Lack of understanding that CX is more than just the product. It’s everything including the billing process especially in B2B environment, there are lots of touchpoints that can (and often will) go wrong.” (Sami Hero)
“At the end of the day, customer engagement has to be uniform and smooth across all departments.” (Benny Gelbendorf)
“Everyone has to be engaged” (Bonnie Hacker)
Takeaways from above?
-Companies are inside-out focused instead of outside-in focused. They are not customer-centric.
-There is a disconnect between what companies provide and what customers need or want. It’s like companies aren’t speaking the customers’ language.
-Too many silos result in organizational misalignment that creates inconsistent experiences for customers.
-Organizations are not embedding customer experience in their cultures.
-Customer Experience is everything and the kitchen sink these days. Without definition and a supporting strategy, it fails.
-Customer Experience is hard work. It’s not one-and-done. It’s a continuous effort that takes skill and competency. There is no instant gratification here.
-Lack of customer experience ownership and governance result in unclear goals.
-There’s too much focus on the metrics and not enough understanding of what’s behind the numbers to improve customers’ experiences. Rather, companies should be looking at the things that are driving customer trust.
-Company policy is trumping customer needs and customer experience.
-The entire organization must support and be accountable for customer experience if it is to succeed.
-If companies aren’t engaging employees and creating a great experience for them, how are they supposed to create a great experience for customers? Hence, more investment in the employee experience must occur.
This is a very important lesson that Sir Richard Branson teaches us:
Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.
The entire organization must support and be accountable for customer experience if it is to succeed. Click To Tweet
Therfore, where lack of executive buy-in and customer experience vision and strategy exists, so does inconsistent customer experiences.
And, customers notice.
“A big frustration is that the customers pay to talk to a real person who will be able to help resolve their specific issue, and all they get is the run around either by a series of automated messages that never fix the issue or internal support that do not handle their specific applications.” (Keith Huemmer)
“…it is all about consistency or lack thereof. Hard for companies to build in a consistent process. It is not about the wow factor but rather delivering the same results all the time – from the front line to the back end support…” (Mark Smith)
“There is a huge disconnect between what companies say they are going to do, and what they actually do.” (Tom Mabon)
“One of my biggest frustrations with customer experience is calling customer service. If I call, it is because I can’t get what I need online or through an automated IVR. The typical experience calling customer service involves pressing digits or speaking the information to confirm my account, going through several prompts to transfer to a customer service representative, waiting on hold to a recording that informs me that I could go online for my customer service needs (when I couldn’t), reaching a customer service representative in an offshore call center with mediocre English-speaking and communication skills who requests my account information but can’t solve my problem, put on hold to be cold transferred to a supervisor in the US, providing all my account a third time to then start the conversation to address my customer service issue.” (Marc Davis)
“Companies constantly bombard to complete surveys. Yet, that doesn’t target the real customer service issues. It seems like overkill and quantity versus targeted and quality.” (Leslie Colcord)
“I’m frustrated when service reps lack the quality and intention to deliver a good genuine service to you. All they mean to do is ‘their job’ and follow a certain process like a machine. They lack warmth, human touch and real genuine intentions and actions to serve.” (Nimit Gandhi)
“Different parts of a company compartmentalizing information. So you either have to re-explain things or they act in ways that demonstrate they don’t talk amongst themselves.” (Hal Werner)
So, I asked you what are your biggest frustrations with customer experience. Therefore, I now ask you what is the answer to fix customer experience? Submit your feedback in the comments below.