CX disconnect in an ‘experience economy’ is putting businesses at risk
Dimension Data, the $8 billion global technology integrator and managed services provider for hybrid IT, today revealed the findings of its annual CX Benchmarking Report. It urges organizations to address a “customer experience disconnect” that could lose them business or even jeopardize their chances of survival in competitive markets where consumer loyalty can no longer be taken for granted.
Research from Dimension Data shows that 68% of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) 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 organization takes a fully integrated, centralized approach to customer experience.
However, the research found that most MEA business respondents recognize customer experience as an important competitive differentiator (90%) that’s also vital for driving loyalty (85%), revenue growth (73%), and cost reduction (55%).
In the MEA region, employee engagement in CX is primarily reactive, with only 35.7% of organizations (42.4% globally) adopting a proactive approach where employees actively (and some, enthusiastically) live the brand as they deliver CX services. Overall, employee engagement levels in the delivery of CX are at their highest at physical-site CX operations, such as retail outlets and high street offices, where emotional involvement in the solution (and likely also its design) is at its most obvious.
Conversely, companies in MEA buck a global trend, as their in-house operations tend to perform better than outsourcers on driving CX through employee engagement.
Despite this, the research revealed that nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) are dissatisfied with the customer experience they deliver, and only 10% believe they’re delivering experiences that would lead customers to recommend them to others.
This is resulting in 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 organization 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 organizations’ CX ambitions and making real change that benefits the customer. This disconnect must be resolved. Brands must make the 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.”
MEA has the highest number of organizations (36.1%; 30.9% globally) saying they have a clear CX strategy that’s recognized as being crucial to organizational strategy. Accountability for CX is somewhat below the global average, with 54.7% of organizations (56.3% globally) saying they have a single person responsible for CX (31.5% at board level) and 29.5% saying individual channels are managed separately (26.2% globally). In line with the global benchmark (76.7%), 76.4% are fairly or very satisfied with their current CX capability, although the region has the lowest number of organizations that say they are very satisfied with current capabilities.
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.
Telephone, email, and website are the top three service channels provided in the region, as well as globally. MEA has the highest number of CX operations (56.2%) using physical sites as a CX channel. Current omnichannel capabilities in the region are close to the global average, with 37.0% of organisations saying most or all channels are connected (39.1% globally). Within the next two years, 54.6% expect to have all channels connected (51.7% globally).
Organizations in MEA are the second most optimistic about automation: 17.0% believe more than half the tasks currently performed by agents will be automated within the next two years (10.9% globally; 24.1% in the Asia Pacific).
To read this year’s Customer Experience Benchmarking Report Executive Guide ‘Bridging the Artificial Reality’, visit this website.
The Report is an annual research study encapsulating more than 20 years of CX insights and trends. The 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report contains insights from over 1100 respondents across 13 industries in 59 countries.