… to Differentiate.
Why is that important? Because according to a 2014 Gartner statistic repeated ad nauseam:
by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience
Folks, that was two years ago.
Ok, so maybe differentiation is too high a bar for “success.” How about getting tangible benefits? You know, what CEOs are looking for to fund CX initiatives. My study found just 23% of respondents claiming tangible benefits from CX investments.
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Add it up, and only 30% claim success in terms of tangible benefits or differentiation.
Let that sink in for a moment — less than 1/3 of CX initiatives are successful. That’s worse than CRM!
Time for CX to Put Up or Shut Up
Maybe you think I’m being too hard on CX. “Give it time” I hear some saying.
It’s true that a majority of CX initiatives in my study claim they are “making progress” and some will no doubt turn into success stories. But CRM didn’t get more time 10 years in — it was widely declared a failure because it didn’t live up the hype. So executives moved on to… CX. Will the pattern repeat?
Before you dismiss my post as a “sky is falling” rant, consider this…
The CX movement is roughly 20 years old (since early books were published). Actually, you could start the CX clock a decade earlier, with Jan Carlzon’s groundbreaking 1987 book Moments of Truth. Compared to that, I’m a newcomer, researching and promoting CX since 2005. On CustomerThink we have over 10,000 posts from the brightest CX minds.
And that’s not all. The CXPA was launched in 2011 to make CX a real profession, and it has succeeded. Hundreds of consulting and tech firms are offering CX services and solutions. A lot of good work has been done to understand what drives CX success. Executives are not repeating the sins of CRM past — buying software and expecting magical results.
I’m not the only one with concerns. Here’s a sampling of posts sounding the alarm in recent weeks:
- Amanda Forshew: 2017 the Year of Undelivered Promise
- Ian Golding: The Customer Experience ‘7 Year Itch’! A frank and honest assessment of the CX profession
- Colin Shaw: Troublesome Trends & Predictions for 2018
- Mohamed Latib: Customer Experience will be a Fad without a Better Business Case
I could go on, but hopefully the point is made — it’s time for CX to put up, or shut up. Otherwise, CX will soon become yesterday’s news as business executives look elsewhere for something that will help their business grow.
What is the Problem? Solution?
I write this post to not just sound the alarm, but to stimulate some useful discussion about why CX is failing, and what to do about it.
To start off, I’ll share what learned from a discussion with Paul Hagen, a former Forrester CX analyst now head of Customer Experience & Innovation Strategy at West Monroe Partners. Like me, he’s worried about CX’s future, wondering “when will the term go away” as executives “focus on the next shiny object.”
Hagen points to combination of strategy and execution as reasons for few CX success stores. On the strategy side, he says some Chief Customer/Experience Officers are coming into their jobs without training on design thinking. CEOs are giving lip service to CX, without really understanding what it means.
According to a new study by West Monroe Partners and the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) called “Adapt or Fail: The Customer Experience Imperative”:
61% of CX execs say their company’s ability to quickly adapt is a top strategic priority. Despite this, nearly a quarter of the respondents’ orgs have no one dedicated to these efforts – and it’s time CX professionals stepped up to the plate.
Some other findings include:
- 54% of organizations cite culture as the primary challenge to becoming more agile, followed by the inflexibility of legacy technologies
- Agility is becoming a priority, though, with only 2% of orgs not trying to become more agile
- Agility is as easy as knowing what customers want and adjusting CX accordingly
Hagan believes 75% of CX initiatives fail on execution. For example, journey mapping is not tied to operational changes. The answer, he says, is for organizations to access to the pulse of customers (using VoC and other data) and implement a closed-loop program to find and fix problems quickly. Build that find/fix “muscle memory,” then focus on innovation, he advocates.
I agree. My research has found the top two leading indicators of CX success are “closing the loop from feedback to action” and “continuous innovation.” It doesn’t help to try to do something different if you can’t get the basics right. But just fixing problems is not enough to be different — unless all your competitors are asleep as the wheel.
A recent Confirmit study also found ROI a significant weak spot.
Only 20% of companies scored 9-10 for seeing a Return on Investment, with a significant 14% of companies scoring 0-2. This suggests a huge proportion of companies doing almost nothing in terms of proving the value of their programme.
The study found that “only 30% of respondents said that key stakeholders were truly invested in the goals of the program.” Yikes! Once again, ROI is a factor. In a statement, Claire Sporton, SVP CX Innovation at Confirmit said: “very few [businesses] are able to link the CX program with financial results,” which makes it “much harder to gain support of the C-suite, set the right goals for the business and secure the desired improvements and culture change across the business.”
If you care about the state of CX, it’s time to stop hyping “how great it’s going to be” and start working on solutions.