The rise of CX

Published on the 15/08/2019 | Written by Heather Wright

Customer experience technology_KPMG

We want it, but making it CX reality is harder than it looks…

It’s the age of the customer, and the push for customer focused business and ‘differentiated’ customer experience is driving customer support, management and attraction increasingly into the domain of IT teams – and a boom in customer experience (CX) technology.

IDC, which has just debuted its inaugural Worldwide Semiannual Customer Experience Spending Guide (indication itself of the growth of the market, warranting its own guide), is forecasting spend on customer experience technologies to hit US$508 billion this year, up 7.9 percent on 2018 figures.

IDC says it expects compound annual growth rate of 8.2 percent from 2018 to 2022, when spend is forecast to hit $641 billion.

“Organisations are struggling to translate this conceptual understanding of CX into an operational reality.”

Enhancing customer experience was a key focus for CIOs according to the recent Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey, with 57 percent of boards looking for IT to enhance the customer experience. That places it just behind delivering consistent and stable IT performance, improving business processes and increasing operational efficiencies.

Craig Simpson, IDC research manager for customer insights and analysis, says “Customer experience has become a key differentiator for businesses worldwide.

“New innovation accelerator technologies like artificial intelligence and data analytics are at the forefront in driving the differentiation for businesses to succeed in their customer experience strategic initiatives.”

Unsurprisingly, the retail sector is expected to be the biggest spender this year and throughout the forecast, with digital marketing, AI-driven engagement and order fulfilment topping the list.

Discrete manufacturing and banking follow, with customer care and support the primary use case for both.

Globally AI driven engagement, interaction management, ubiquitous commerce, omni-channel content and digital asset management are seeing the fastest spend growth for the years ahead – though combined those six categories only account for one-third of overall spend this year.

The technologies could pose issues for many large consumer-facing companies, for whom integrating the technologies into legacy IT environments could prove challenging.

Those complexities are hinted at in a report from Adobe and Econsultancy.

Experience Index: 2019 Digital Trends paints a positive picture showing CX is a top priority for businesses this year, with half of organisations planning to increase CX-related spend this year and 19% saying optimising the customer experience is the single most exciting opportunity for them in 2019.

But it also highlights that 54 percent of respondents said their maturity wasn’t very advanced.

“While customer experience is widely recognised as crucial for commercial success, the research suggests organisations are struggling to translate this conceptual understanding into an operational reality,” the report says.

Getting a wholistic view of customers across all interactions was a key challenge faced, with a lack of marketing technology integration hampering companies getting that end to end view.

For Australian and New Zealand businesses there might be even more pressure: The Adobe Exeprience Index shows consumers across A/NZ are among the most demanding in the world when it comes to customer experience expectations.

The survey, which included more than 1,000 consumers from Australia and New Zealand, found that we want tailored, seamless experiences – and we want them fast.

Suzanne Steele, Adobe Australia and New Zealand managing director, says it’s no surprise we’re such a demanding bunch.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of online businesses in the region, which has given consumers more choice than ever before,” she says.

“I believe we’re at a crossroads, where managing customer experiences is becoming business critical. Organisations that listen to what their customers want and leverage data to deliver personalised, seamless experiences in real-time will be the ones that succeed in this increasingly competitive market.”

As an aside, while we might think millennials are the impatient ones, the survey shows when it comes to poor customer experiences while shopping at least, they’re the most patient. Just 38 percent of 18 to 34 year olds said they’d abandon their shopping carts due to poor customer experience. But annoy someone in the 35+ age group and they’re less likely to be forgiving, with 52 percent saying they’ll abandon the shop. Those 35+ were also more likely to stop buying from a company altogether after experiencing bad customer experience – but the 18 to 34 year olds are more likely to head online to complain about bad experience on a review site or social media.

As to the future of customer experience, the Adobe research suggests companies should focus on time saving and convenience innovations.

Crystal ball gazing slightly into the future, the findings shows that synced vehicle touch screens at drive throughs, smart check-out lines at stores and smart prescription bottles were seen as the most impressive technologies of the future.

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