We recently asked 2,000 customer experience (CX) professionals about the state of their company’s customer experience strategies, methods, goals, and obstacles. We wanted to know, “What are companies that are delivering an outstanding customer experience doing differently than everyone else?”
Using Pollfish, we asked CX professionals from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and the EU 19 specific questions about the state and success of their companies’ CX strategies.
Understanding CX maturity
In order to gain more meaningful insights into the results, we had respondents categorize themselves into one of four CX levels: ignore, novice, competent, and mature.
- Ignore: These are companies that don’t view customer experience as a crucial differentiator. There are no efforts towards developing a CX strategy or measuring CX initiatives.
- Novice: These are companies that recognize the need to improve their customer experience. They’ve put basic steps in place to identify and measure CX-related issues, but don’t have a clear CX strategy in place.
- Competent: These companies make an effort to deliver a high-quality experience for their customers. They have a clear CX strategy with processes firmly in place to measure results.
- Mature: These are the cream of the customer experience crop. Their CX strategy is embedded in everything they do. Customer feedback forms the core of their strategy and decision-making, and they continuously iterate their CX practices to meet customer demand.
Only 12% of companies in our study identify as being Mature CX companies, while 38% identify themselves as Young, 40% as First Steps, and 10% as Ignore.
The results show that CX leaders are doing things differently. From what they prioritize and how they view themselves to the methods they use to execute their customer experience strategy, Mature companies ‘get’ what other companies don’t.
For anyone who wants to retain their competitive advantage in 2019, these are the trends to pay attention to.
Customer experience leaders prioritize delivering an outstanding experience over everything else (yes, even over revenue)
Hands down, Mature companies are focused on delivering the most outstanding experience possible—more than any other goal, including increasing their bottom line.
- 37% of Mature companies reported that delivering the most outstanding experience possible is the #1 goal of their CX initiatives, compared to 21% of Competent companies, 18% of Novice companies, and 19% of Ignore companies.
- The focus on acquiring more customers decreases as maturity levels increase. Only 9% of Mature companies chose it as their top goal, compared to 12% of Competent companies, 15% of Novice companies, and 16% of Ignore companies.
- Increasing sales and revenue was also less of a priority for Mature companies, with 12% of Mature companies choosing this as their main goal, compared to 19% of Competent and Novice companies, and 14% of Ignore companies.
Customer experience leaders focus on ‘old-school’ methods to execute their CX strategy
Companies with successful CX initiatives prioritize ‘old-school’ methods, such as talking directly to their customers, having the best talent on board, and doing market research, much more than their less successful counterparts.
In fact, almost two-thirds of Mature companies rely on these on these methods as the top methods to successfully execute their CX strategy.
And they rely far less on ‘over-hyped’ methods such as chatbots, predictive analytics, and augmented reality than their less successful counterparts.
In other words, the more Mature companies don’t get distracted by ‘shiny’ objects and stay focused on what they know will deliver results.
- While voice-of-the-customer (VOC) feedback was the #1 method across the board, 27% of Mature companies chose it as their top method, compared to 22% of Competent companies, 18% of Novice companies, and 20% of Ignore companies.
- Mature companies also prioritized having an outstanding team much more than the others, with 24% compared to 22% of Competent companies, 17% of Novice companies, and just 12% of Ignore companies.
- Very few Mature companies prioritized chatbots (2%) and predictive analytics (11%), compared to Competent companies (3% and 17%), Novice companies (5% and 14%), and Ignore companies (11% and 17%).
Customer feedback is the #1 driver of successful customer experience strategies
Not only is collecting direct customer feedback critical for companies to execute their strategy: feedback is also the building block for creating the strategy to begin with.
Almost half of Mature companies stated that customer feedback is the main driver of their overall CX strategy. That’s quite a contrast compared to Ignore companies, where only 1 in 5 companies do the same.
In fact, 2 out of 3 of Ignore companies base their strategy on either market trends, industry best practices, HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion), and gut feeling.
- Market trends (20%), HiPPOs (17%), and industry best practices (17%) are the main drivers of Ignore companies’ strategies. Those numbers drop with maturity, as only 9%, 12%, and 12% of Mature companies give the same methods top priority.
- Strategies driven by gut feeling increase by almost 4X among less mature companies. Only 3% of Mature companies choose it as a top strategy driver, compared to 4% of Competent companies, 7% of Novice companies, and 11% of Ignore companies.
Lack of employee knowledge and training is the #1 obstacle keeping companies from achieving their CX goals
Across all maturity levels, lack of employee knowledge and training is the biggest obstacle that keeps companies from reaching their CX goals.
However, 1 in 3 Mature companies reported they don’t have any obstacles keeping them from achieving their CX goals.
That’s five times higher than the number of Competent companies reporting the same, and 11 times higher than Novice and Ignore companies.
- Employees lacking sufficient knowledge or training was still the top obstacle for everyone else. 17% of Competent companies suffer from this, as do 14% of Novice and Ignore companies. Only 10% of Mature companies listed this as a top obstacle.
- Competition was also high on everyone’s list, with 15% of Mature and Competent companies selecting it, 14% of Novice companies, and 8% of Ignore companies.
- Lack of leadership buy-in decreases significantly as maturity levels increase. Only 2% of Mature companies chose this, compared to 4% of Competent companies, 7% of Novice companies, and 11% of Ignore companies.
Waiting for a response is the #1 thing that frustrates customers throughout their experience
It doesn’t matter how mature a company’s CX initiatives get—everyone struggles to respond to their customers in a timely manner.
Across the board, having to wait for a response from a company was the #1 frustration that customers have during their experience with it, with 1 in 5 respondents across all maturity levels selecting it as the top pick.
- 20% of Mature, Competent, and Novice companies selected a long wait or response time as the #1 source of customer frustration. That number was 22% among Ignore companies.
- Rude and angry employees was another top frustration for customers of Ignore companies, with 17%. That number drops steadily among Novice companies (9%), Competent companies (5%), and Mature companies (3%).
- 32% of Mature companies stated their customers have no frustrations with them. Only 13% of Competent companies, 7% of Novice companies, and 4% of Ignore companies can say the same.
This customer experience study was conducted by Hotjar, a behavior and feedback tool built for marketing, design, and product teams focused on improving user experiences. Read the full report to learn more about how to implement a successful CX strategy.