Why technology is key to customer experience improvement
Customer experience improvement has never been more business critical. However, CX teams are under even greater pressure to deliver ROI in the current downturn. Forrester predicts that 1 in 5 CX programmes will disappear in 2023 as senior managers fail to see the value that CX improvement brings. According to the analyst 54% of CX teams are unable to prove the ROI of their projects. This puts them in peril at a time of increased budget scrutiny.
CX teams therefore need clear priorities and focus in 2023. The ContactBabel UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022-23 is full of helpful insights. Sponsored by Enghouse Interactive, it identifies technology as the key driver for customer experience improvement, but finds that existing systems, budget constraints, and a lack of senior level support are barriers to success.
Understanding the aims of customer experience
First, there’s a wide agreement on why companies focus on customer experience. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of CX leaders ranked increasing customer retention first or second as their main aim. This was followed by lowering service costs (60%) and expanding the customer base (52%). Overall, there’s a clear understanding that keeping existing customers is vital, and that retaining them is a much cheaper option than continually recruiting new ones.
Unsurprisingly the ContactBabel study shows major differences between industries. 73% of public sector organisations are focused primarily on reducing costs without impacting service levels, compared to an overall average of 40%.
The importance of technology in customer experience improvement
When asked where they were looking to invest, 43% of CX leaders said technology was their number one focus. This was well ahead of improving business processes (29%) or training staff (19%).
CX leaders identified a mix of innovation and optimisation as core to their spending plans. 36% said they were looking to implement/replace AI solutions in the next 12 months, followed by web chat (34%), interaction analytics (31%) and email management/workforce management (both 25%). This combination of new innovations, such as AI, and solutions that give greater control (interaction analytics and workforce management) shows CX’s twin priorities. Teams need to meet rapidly changing customer needs while optimising efficiency across operations.
However, when looking at where the greatest amount of technology budget would be spent, the picture differed. Over half (51%) listed omnichannel as a top 5 area of expenditure, along with AI (50%), agent desktop (40%) and web self-service (36%). Clearly, many CX teams are still struggling to join up channels and support agents with a seamless technology experience.
Where is technology holding back customer experience improvement?
CX teams identify technology as a key enabler, but three main issues prevent them getting full benefit from their IT:
- 84% say legacy technology, built up over many years is a major (45%) or minor (39%) problem when it comes to delivering customer experience. This is driving the budget focus on agent desktop as companies look to bring disparate systems together.
- 79% list not having a single view of the customer across channels as a major (51%) or minor (28%) issue. This links to the greater spend on omnichannel, both to improve CX and increase efficiency.
- 55% highlighted a lack of sufficient IT budget as a major (32%) or minor (43%) challenge. This holds back the adoption of new technology (such as AI) and is only likely to worsen as budgets are squeezed in 2023.
Lukewarm support for CX within organisations
Organisations continually state that focusing on the customer is critical to their success. However, most CX leaders find that C-Level or even senior management do not fully support this objective. Just 24% believe there is ‘excellent’ board level commitment to CX, while 19% say there aren’t enough dedicated CX employees to deliver results. 18% are unhappy about the CX technology available to them, rising to 22% amongst contact centres with 201-1,000 agents. Only 50% believe their CX budget is excellent or good, and 65% don’t believe sufficient time is available for customer experience improvement.
Given Forrester’s predictions of widescale cuts to CX teams, these figures paint a worrying picture. Failure to engage senior leaders and show ROI will put CX at risk. Teams need to focus on demonstrating the value they bring, particularly around customer retention. To help set priorities, take a look at the ContactBabel UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022-23. Download your copy here.