Two recently-published reports paint a decidedly mixed picture of the current state of customer experience (CX) management. Most business leaders now recognize that providing great customer experiences is a critical source of competitive advantage and a primary driver of business performance. So these two reports provide an important snapshot of how far companies have come in their efforts to improve customer experiences.
Forrester's Predictions 2019
In its Predictions 2019 report, Forrester observed that CX performance has been flat for three consecutive years. The report stated that in Forrester's Customer Experience Index research, ". . . few businesses made real gains, most continue to plateau, and some fell back."
Forrester also noted that 89% of surveyed CX professionals do not believe that the ROI of customer experience is well established in their companies. As a result, Forrester predicts that 20% of companies will abandon strategic CX initiatives in 2019 and turn to price reductions to secure short-term gains.
Forrester's report describes the outlook for customer experience management in 2019 in somewhat pessimistic terms: "There is a strategic and structural mismatch between what CX needs to do and what CX is allowed to do or is capable of doing. 2019 will see that mismatch continue to play out."
The 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report
The 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report by Dimension Data provides detailed insights about the state of CX around the world. This report was based on a global survey of customer experience professionals that produced 1,114 responses. Respondents were located in 59 countries across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and the Middle East and Africa.
I found the overall tone of this report to be fairly pessimistic, but when I reviewed the specific survey findings, I thought they painted a somewhat more optimistic - or at least a more balanced - picture.
For example, there is a broad consensus about the importance of customer experience. Almost nine out of ten of the survey respondents (88.3%) said their organization views customer experience as a competitive differentiator.
The research also found that most companies have a defined customer experience strategy, although only a small minority of companies are measuring the ROI of their CX efforts.
- 36.3% of the respondents said they have a "high level" CX strategy that is aligned to brand positioning
- 30.9% said a CX strategy exists and is recognized as crucial to organizational strategy
- 13.3% said a clear CX strategy exists and its ROI/value is defined and measured
- Only 19.5% of the respondents said they have no formal CX strategy
More than three out of four of the survey respondents (76.7%) indicated they were fairly or very satisfied with their current customer experience capabilities, although only 10.3% said they were very satisfied. Perhaps more important, more than three-fourths of the respondents (77.1%) said their customers would rate their company's CX capabilities as 6 or higher on a 10-point scale (where 0 = poor, and 10 = excellent).
The Dimension Data research also revealed some additional areas of concern. For example, 29.5% of respondents said customer experience is seen as relevant in some business functions only, and that there is no organization-wide ownership of CX. Another 23.9% said CX is owned by individual business functions that are supported by a central CX team.
As I noted earlier, most respondents to this survey said they have some form of a company-wide CX strategy. So it appears that many companies are still leaving the execution of that strategy to individual business functions. This approach can easily produce CX efforts that are not tightly coordinated, and it can also result in customer experiences that are not completely consistent.
Overall, the Dimension Data research indicates that many companies have made substantial progress on CX, but it also shows that more work is needed to deliver consistently great customer experiences.
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