Companies are talking about (customer experience) CX, but not delivering it, according to research from Dimension Data.
The company's annual CX Benchmarking Report found that among MEA businesses, 90% believe CX is an important competitive differentiator, but only 10% believe they're delivering experiences that would lead customers to recommend them to others.
The technology integrator said that the results show a ‘customer experience disconnect' that could lose them business or even jeopardise their chances of survival in competitive markets where consumer loyalty can no longer be taken for granted.
As well as being a competitive differentiator for businesses, MEA organisations said that CX is also vital for driving loyalty (85%), revenue growth (73%), and cost reduction (55%).
However, 24% of respondents said that they are dissatisfied with the customer experience they deliver.
Dimension Data said that companies lack C-level leadership and strategic alignment on CX. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said customer experience is not represented at board level, with lower-level management or multiple managers often assuming responsibility. Furthermore, only 20% said their organisation takes a fully integrated, centralised approach to customer experience.
There is currently an ‘artificial reality', where companies are talking about CX, but not delivering on it, creating a gap between their CX ambitions and actual CX capabilities. Businesses are looking at several CX technologies, such as customer analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital integration, but aren't currently able to implement them properly.
Nemo Verbist, Group Executive for Customer Experience at Dimension Data said: "Customer experience must be higher on the agenda for every business and the whole organisation should get behind it. Brands acknowledge how crucial customer experience is, yet so few are making it a board level responsibility, leaving it siloed or delegating it to individual managers. There's an artificial reality between organisations' CX ambitions and making real change that benefits the customer. This disconnect must be resolved. Brands must make customer experience the priority they say it is."
The research also revealed that many brands are turning to technology to improve customer experience, but often without a clear strategy. Some 24% of businesses said the digital solutions they've rolled out (such as chatbots and AI) don't provide the functionality their customers need, while around half of respondents (61%) said customer awareness of such technologies is the biggest barrier to adoption.
Verbist added: "Rolling out a technology only to claim it doesn't provide the functionality required, or that customers are unaware of it, isn't a failure of the technology, but a failure of the planning. Technology can give businesses many powerful tools to improve and support great customer experience, but it's not simply a case of flicking a switch and it will work. Brands need to back their investments in technology with investments in their people, processes, and planning."
Nancy Jamison, Principal Analyst for Customer Care at Frost & Sullivan, advised that brands should look to address these areas of disconnect within their business and measure, benchmark and report effectively to ensure such disconnects don't creep back in.
"Customer experience benchmarking is more important than ever. Brands need to invest in customer experience but they also need to know that those investments are paying off. And if they're not, they need to know what to change. Right now, it looks like brands aren't putting the right kind of focus on customer experience and, as a result, they're not seeing the outcomes they want. That's bad for them, and their customers," she said.
The Customer Experience Benchmarking Report Executive Guide ‘Bridging the Artificial Reality', is available here.