Customer experience is the new competitive battlefield

Customer experience (CX) is the new battlefield and leading organisations are changing their priorities this year to focus on this space, reports Gartner.

The leading CX priorities for 2015 are projects aimed at improving consistency across channels and acting as "one" unified organisation, says Nick Inglebrecht, research director at Gartner. .

Improving customer satisfaction is still important in 2015, but there is increased focus this year on driving customer loyalty and driving advocacy, he states.

"There are perhaps signs of a realisation 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.”

Inglebrecht says a January 2015 survey among Gartner Research Circle members provides a great overview of how things are changing in CX. The survey respondents were responsible for CX projects, working on CX projects, or were familiar or indirectly impacted by such projects.

By 2018, more than 50 percent of organisations will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience. Nick Inglebrecht, Gartner

The top three projects planned for 2015 are self-service CX projects, multichannel orchestration activities, and, as in 2014, collecting and analysing customer feedback.

Honouring data privacy gets even less attention in 2015 than last year and standardising approaches segmentation also continues to register quite low in the list of projects planned for 2015.

Multichannel consistency is the number one focus this year, up from the seventh position in the 2014 project list.

The top-ranked voice of the customer projects of 2014 has moved to third place in 2015, while customer metrics stayed the same.

The survey found organisations implemented an average of 5.7 CX projects in 2014, with the biggest focus on programs to improve the collection and analysis of customer feedback and "opening up" the organisation.

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 analysing 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 standardising approaches to segmentation and honouring data privacy and focusing on the benefits of building trust, rather than just the legal risks and mapping customer journeys.

"The findings 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 organisation's customer experiences."

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 organisation.

"Not all business model changes are of equal significance, but there appears to be a recognition among the more mature organisations that CX projects span organisational boundaries and fundamentally affect the way the organisation operates," says Inglebrecht.

"As a result, Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50 percent of organisations will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience."

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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