Gartner Says Organizations Are Changing Their Customer Experience Priorities

Leading CX Priorities for 2015 Are Projects Aimed at Improving Consistency Across Channels and Acting as “One” Unified Organization 

Organizations have changed their customer experience (CX) priorities for 2015, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. The survey took place in January 2015 among Gartner Research Circle Members, a Gartner-managed panel composed of IT and business leaders. In total, 289 members participated. Respondents were responsible for CX projects, working on CX projects, or were familiar or indirectly impacted by such projects.

“The study examines what CX projects have been carried out in 2014 and what projects are being worked on in 2015. This provides a great overview of how things are changing in CX,” said Nick Inglebrecht, research director at Gartner. “The findings also underline the fact that customer experience improvements are complex undertakings. There is no silver bullet that will, by itself, improve the overall experience. But the combination of projects, if implemented well, can cumulatively contribute to the improvement of an organization’s customer experiences.”

The survey found that organizations implemented an average of 5.7 CX projects during 2014, with the biggest focus on programs to improve the collection and analysis of customer feedback and “opening up” the organization. When presented with a list of 16 generic CX improvement projects conducted during 2014, the most frequently cited projects were those associated with collecting and analyzing customer feedback and communicating actions to employees and customers (capturing the voice of the customer) followed by reconfiguring customer process. Third was activating self-service and tools to select, order, track and stop product purchases. The least-cited projects were standardizing approaches to segmentation and honoring data privacy and focusing on the benefits of building trust, rather than just the legal risks and mapping customer journeys.

More than one-third of survey participants said their customer experience improvement projects during 2014 involved significant changes of their business models. The majority of business model changes mentioned by the participants involved changes to the process around the production of products and services, including supply chain and internal processes. In one-third of cases, the business model changes related to changes in the way the customer interacts with the organization.

“Not all business model changes are of equal significance, but there appears to be a recognition among the more mature organizations that CX projects span organizational boundaries and fundamentally affect the way the organization operates,” said Mr. Ingelbrecht. “As a result, Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50 percent of organizations will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience.”

Survey participants also provided a perspective on their 2015 plans for CX improvement projects. This year, their strategic focus has changed somewhat. The leading CX priorities for 2015 are projects aimed at improving consistency across channels and acting as “one” unified organization. Improving customer satisfaction is still important in 2015, but there is increased focus this year on driving customer loyalty and driving advocacy. “There are perhaps signs of a realization here that CX is more than just customer satisfaction (CSAT); you actually have to drive word-of-mouth recommendations and give your existing customers more reasons to keep coming back to you,” said Mr. Ingelbrecht.

The top three projects planned for 2015 are self-service CX projects, multichannel orchestration activities, and, as in 2014, collecting and analyzing customer feedback. Honoring data privacy gets even less attention in 2015 than last year and standardizing approaches segmentation also continues to register quite low in the list of projects planned for 2015.

Multichannel consistency is the No. 1 focus for 2015, up from the seventh position in the 2014 project list. The top-ranked voice of the customer projects of 2014 has slipped to third place in 2015, while customer metrics stayed the same.

More detailed analysis is available in the report “Survey Analysis: The State of Customer Experience Innovation, 2015.” This report is part of the Gartner Special Report “Customer Experience Emerges as the New Competitive Battlefield.” This report focuses on how greater competition and growing consumer power have eroded traditional product- and service-based differentiation, forcing firms to seek new, more durable forms of competitive advantage.

Analysts will explore the latest thinking in customer trends at the Gartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit in London, U.K. on June 10-11 and the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego, September 9-11. You can find more content and updates on these events on Twitter using the hashtag #GartnerCRM.

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