It’s a pretty good time to be a customer. Recent Forrester report “The Challenges Holding Back CX Leaders And How To Overcome Them” tells us that truly customer-centric companies are becoming the new norm. (That means that rather than touting the idea that “the customer is always right” and “the customer is king,” they actually put their talent, time, and money where their mouth is.) In surveying more than 250 Customer Experience executives and CMOs, Forrester found that:
- Companies believe that customer centricity is a key differentiator. In fact, 60 percent of Customer Experience pros and 70 percent of CMOs who oversee Customer Experience in their organizations said that they consider a singular focus on the customer to be an advantage over the competition. And 84 percent of executives surveyed said that they place a higher priority on Customer Experience than they did 2 years ago.
- Customer Experience is now garnering a bigger budget. Nearly two-thirds of professionals surveyed said that budgets to support Customer Experience initiatives have increased in the last 2 years. Forrester analysts Samuel Stern, Michael E. Gazala, and others go so far as to tell us that, no, it’s not because they’re growing from a small base. On the contrary, it’s common for Customer Experience professionals to have 7-figure budgets and teams of at least 10 people.
Even so… Customer Experience teams are held back by 4 things
- More than half of the Customer Experience professionals and CMOs Forrester surveyed said that their company culture impedes success. Worker Experience is the number one area where Customer Experience professionals wish they could exert more influence. You can’t adequately focus on delivering a better Customer Experience if you have disengaged employees.
- Forty-five percent of Customer Experience professionals surveyed cited organizational structure as a roadblock to success; 2 out of 5 said the same about company processes. Forrester says that these numbers align with past research they’ve conducted, in which Customer Experience professionals expressed frustration with how few organizational processes effectively take customer impact into consideration.
- One in 3 Customer Experience professionals surveyed said that lacking or lagging technology is a challenge, and 57 percent said that customer data quality hindered their ability to adapt. Forrester provides a critical example: the American Cancer Society (ACS) told them it was common for multiple records to exist for the same donor, which naturally made it hard to compile a complete donation history when donors asked for it.
- Two-thirds of Customer Experience professionals said that their teams aren’t actively included in early stages of strategy development and planning. It’s this kind of lacking influence, alignment, and support from other company leaders that keeps companies from owning Customer Experience in their space.
Those tasked with focusing on CX need to expand their influence (but how?)
Customer Experience projects don’t often get the strategy planning and budgeting process they need to succeed. But that doesn’t mean the fight to make Customer Experience a top priority in your organization is already lost. Here are some tried-and-true ways to forge ahead in the Customer Experience landscape:
- Don’t wait for your org chart to change to become customer-centric. Forrester tells companies, “Direct your energy like the CX pros at technology consultant Appirio, who focus on helping employees understand how to deliver the right experience. All employees are trained on ‘The Appirio Way,’ a detailed set of processes and tools that help teams deliver projects that maximize value to customers. For example, carefully managing project milestones ensures that far fewer projects fall behind schedule or go over scope.” Note: This isn’t me telling you to be more like us; this is Forrester telling you to be more like us. (See what I did there?)
- Get the support of senior executives and HR. The fact is that it takes leaders like the CEO and COO to champion a successful shift in culture. And it takes HR to rework fundamental processes like hiring, onboarding, training, and performance evaluation. Of the Customer Experience professionals surveyed, only 13 percent cited the head of HR as a key partner (even fewer CMOs said the same).
- Cozy up to technology management. Forrester says that over 40 percent of Customer Experience professionals surveyed have only some or no involvement in Customer Experience technology decisions. (It’s no wonder half of those surveyed want a stronger relationship with their CIO.) Customer Experience initiatives have to fall under a larger transformation effort that includes pushes into digital and IoT.
- Become better storytellers and data analysts. Majorities of both Customer Experience professionals and CMOs surveyed said that departments across their organization lacked a consistent view of the customer. Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) analysis can help demystify the business value of a great Customer Experience. Better understanding of the customer leads to better storytelling, and better storytelling leads to a better Customer Experience and increased ROI.