Delivering an exceptional customer experience has proven to be a significant challenge to most organizations, even though they understand the critical impact it has on their businesses, according to a recently released study by Pegasystems and nFusion.

The study found that there is a significant gap in most companies in understanding the importance of superior customer experiences and the actual delivery of those customer experiences. That is important, because there is a strong correlation between customer experiences and brand reputation and strength. Ninety-five percent of study participants rated customer experiences as important or highly important, but only 6 percent considered themselves to be “best practioners” in this area.

Companies recognized that customer experience is closely aligned with brand reputation, according to the study. Those that said their customer experience was positive or very positive thought their brand reputation was positively impacted, while those who said their customer experience was negative saw a negative impact to their brand reputations.

According to Pegasystems and nFusion, one of the main reasons cited for companies failing to deliver on customer experience was a focus on short-term profitability and cost containment.

According to the study, customer experience delivery issues stem from inconsistency across organizational silos – few companies have a single point of accountability for delivering superior customer services across different functions. There were complexities of employing different touchpoints across different departments within the surveyed companies as well as the additional challenges of lack of control of customer facing staffs for companies that used brokers, retailers or indirect channels.

The CEO and aligned executive teams drive supportive cultures in those companies reporting positive customer experiences. However, the chief marketing officer, rather than the CEO, was the most frequently cited executive thought by respondents to be best situated to lead company-wide customer experience initiatives.

The survey noted that chief marketing officers are familiar with working across different departments and usually are experienced in translating brand and customer strategies into operational programs. Additionally, marketing is usually responsible for “voice of the customer” research and for measuring customer satisfaction.

Peagsystems and nFusion recommended those companies seeking to improve customer experience should follow a handful of steps:

  • Demonstrate financial benefits to executives, including any increase revenue and enhanced customer retention forecasts.
  • Build strong alliances with executives to gain buy-in and resource commitments.
  • Implement customer journey mapping across all touch points. These documents help provide tolls to help build customer support across cross-functional implementation teams.
  • Engage customer-facing and supportive employees because building a customer-centric culture must have an impact on a customer’s experience with a product or service. So there must be significant internal marketing and a focus on training. “Every customer contact is a moment of truth that should be managed proactively,” the survey advises.
  • Establish customer metrics to define, track and report key customer experience data at the company’s operational and executive levels. Such metrics help recognize success as well as uncover areas that need more attention in order to enhance the customer experience.
  • Consider technology-based solutions, particularly at customer touchpoints.

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