As customer expectations for useful, frictionless experiences continue to rise, companies are replacing manual processes and augmenting physical experiences with new digital interactions. This embrace of digital stems from more than the need to delight and engage – it is about providing real utility to customers at an acceptable cost to serve. For many companies, this is simply one of several requirements for doing business in the digital age. For others, operationalizing customer experience (CX) is a mission that defines their corporate zeitgeist. It is an opportunity to continually improve CX; and for some, CX is a true brand differentiator and driver of their business.
The specific attributes and leading practices of these CX aficionados – we call them the Elites – became clear as we analyzed how organizations are mobilizing to improve their performance through CX. This report, part of the year-long Customer Experience study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), is based on the survey responses of 501 C-suite and line of business executives from multiple industries and regions.1 It builds on our first report, “The experience revolution: The game is on,” where we identified top trends executives are facing as they reinvent their CX.2
In this second report, we reveal how organizations approach CX ownership, strategy, crossfunctional collaboration, use of data, use of Experience Design methods and customer feedback to enhance and measure CX.3 As anticipated, we found that CX responsibility and leadership is expanding beyond the traditional siloed domains of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and marketing departments. Whether managing from the C-suite or the functional level, the Elites have injected customer-centricity into their corporate cultures and are executing CX with more complexity and finesse than others.
Indeed, when we compare Elites’ methods for assessing the value of CX to what other respondents do, the differences are striking. For example, Elites are more likely than others to apply advanced techniques such as attribution modeling to measure the impact of CX on their business.4
When compared to Professionals and Amateurs, Elites are: 81% more likely to conduct touchpoint analysis to determine the impact of CX. 46% more likely to regularly iterate, test and optimize experiences based on data. 35% more likely to solicit employees’ feedback about CX.
In today’s digital world, companies can maintain an intimate relationship with their customers and continually enhance experiences in ways that are affordable and immediate. However, the entire sample of respondents still has a long way to go to become truly customer experience driven. Even the Elites struggle to get everyone in their organization on board. Yet, we can learn a lot by looking at the characteristics that distinguish the Elites from the other two groups we identified, the Professionals and the Amateurs. By exploring what Elites do to fuel their CX reinvention, we have uncovered three practices we believe set them apart from everyone else. Elites: • Assign customer and business value to CX – testing and continuously optimizing • Engage employees as critical drivers of the experience • Dive deep into the insight. We also uncover the capability gaps that challenge each group and provide a set of recommendations organizations can adopt to accelerate a CX-centric approach that is applicable today and can scale into the future.
The CX mantle – the coach responsible for team performance For CX to become truly transformational, according to the familiar mantra, the C-suite had to own it. Why? Because if an organization is faithfully customer-centric, every function across the business will feel the impact of CX as it drives the top line and delivers the bottom line.
Naturally, then, leaders at the very top would be the ones responsible for establishing a panorganizational CX vision – or so we thought. In fact, our data suggests that CX leadership models are far more diverse. When we asked whether primary responsibility for CX strategy lives within the C-suite or at a functional level, 55 percent said the functional level owns it; 44 percent cited the C-suite.
Interestingly, only 18 percent of respondents said that a lone C-suite officer is responsible. Traditionally, many considered the CMO the sole owner of CX, but those who cite a single owner today are more inclined to point to the CEO. More often, though, primary ownership doesn’t sit with just one person; it is shared among two to five leaders. The composition of officers with CX responsibility varies widely, with no pattern within industry or region. The 217 respondents who said CX responsibility resides in the C-suite identified as many as 173 unique combinations of officers. The most popular is a team of three: The CEO, the CMO and the Chief Sales Officer. Alternatively, for those who report that CX responsibility resides outside the C-suite, with line of business executives, the most popular cross-functional team includes, as expected, traditional customer-focused functions: Marketing, customer service and analytics/customer insights. 3 The assortment of roles and functions owning CX indicates there is no one CX leadership model surfacing as the gold standard. CX is not a process; rather, it is about maintaining a deep understanding of how an enterprise serves customers, end to end. CX is a business driver for the whole organization.
However, while the majority of companies in our survey has adopted a multi-functional CX approach, our findings indicate the companies’ ability to execute a holistic CX transformation relies on a number of factors that go far beyond leadership’s coordination of CX improvements across functions.