The “Big Three” customer expectations – Personalization, Ease, and Speed – came through clearly, but what actions are companies taking to meet the demands of customers? We asked this question through our Customers 2020 research. Here’s what we heard.
During the in-depth interviews we asked what companies are doing to prepare for the future. Several themes emerged including culture and employee engagement, the digital experience, and bringing together disparate sources of customer information. Here’s a sample of what we heard:
- “It starts with working to alter the course of our culture. It’s foundational to all the other stuff we’re talking about. Unless the organization cares about customers, it won’t matter. We’ll focus on people first and then have the people focus on customers first.“
- “A lot technology wise… My team has responsibility for customer-facing digital tools. One way we’re supporting this is to think about leap frogging our digital experience and building technology that enhances the customer’s interaction with us.“
- “We are building an intelligent 360 degree view of customers – continuing on the journey to automate. We have to take all of the information about customers, prospects, and market, and put it together so people can access and use it to drive meaningful discussions. It’s more art than science at this point.”
In the quantitative survey we shared a list of actions that companies are taking to meet the changing needs of customers and asked respondents to select the ones that will have the greatest impact for their company. The list was developed from the themes that emerged during the in-depth interviews and items that were selected in the original Customers 2020 study. Respondents were allowed to pick three responses.
By far, the top items selected are developing a customer centric culture and simplifying products and processes.
What surprised us and what didn’t
There were two items that caught our attention:
- In 2016 we spent the year understanding the CEO perspective of customer experience. Through that research and through our in-depth interviews, we heard about the importance of innovation. Yet, through the quantitative survey, when we asked customer experience professionals what actions will have the greatest impact, the innovation-related items (digital transformation, guiding product innovation, involving customers in the innovation process, and having agile improvement initiatives) fell toward the bottom.
- In the original Customers 2020 quantitative survey, we asked a similar question and learned that the majority were focused on understanding individual customer characteristics (62%) and simplifying products and processes (58%). The original research did not have an option related to culture—we added that based on themes from the in-depth interviews—so it’s not an apples-to-applies comparison. However, while we weren’t surprised culture was at the top, we were surprised by the drop in understanding individual customer characteristics.
Culture is clearly an area where customer experience professionals are spending their time and attention. It was one of the topics we drilled into through this research. Stay tuned as we’ll dive into the culture topic in a future Customers 2020 Unfiltered blog. In the meantime, tell us what you think. Are the actions that companies are taking similar to what you’d expect? Does anything surprise you?