The artificial CX reality gap

The artificial CX reality gap

What we had to say at CX Africa 360 in April 2019

More than ever, organisations identify Customer Experience (CX) as a competitive differentiator, yet only one in 10 is achieving promoter level CX ratings. It is this gap between CX goals and delivery that was the topic of our Merchants Group COO Darren Arnold’s presentation at the CX Africa 360 conference in South Africa, April this year.

Darren was invited to present challenges and solutions, based on results from Dimension Data’s 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, which were well-received by CX professionals from around the world.

CX – why it matters

Research shows that CX remains the #1 strategic measurement for organisational performance, receiving over 50% more votes than other metrics. Confirming a broad acceptance of the importance of CX over the past six or seven years, Darren points out that 80% of those surveyed agree that CX is a competitive differentiator:

‘In many industries, product and service offerings as well as the associated price points have converged across the market.  In this context, customer experience is one of the few levers that organisations have, to truly differentiate themselves from their competition.’

By delivering a superior customer experience, businesses will engender greater loyalty and brand advocacy leading to both top line and bottom-line growth.

Top challenges that hold back the benefits of CX investments

‘Organisations know there is a direct correlation between CX and both revenue and profitability.  Yet, as organisations seek to differentiate themselves through greater channel choice and the use of data analytics to drive personalised and proactive interactions, the reality is that CX falls considerably short of aspirations,’ explains Arnold, who lists the top challenges that organisations face:

  • Lack of strategy – a clearly defined CX strategy should guide technology and channel decisions, avoiding siloed deployments, in favour of a holistic plan.
  • Lack of board level ownership –only 30% of organisations have CX representation at board level. For CX transformation to work, there needs to be concerted senior level sponsorship and single ownership across the enterprise.
  • Legacy technology – while it’s fair to say mature industries suffer more, most organisations still face real challenges with the integration of innovative solution sets and legacy systems.
  • Data analytics –organisations lack the skills needed to optimise the use of data, to truly understand customer behaviours and preferences and thus, enable personalisation.

How to bridge the gap

Bridging the gap between CX goals and reality requires a fundamental refocus of the business.  As Arnold points out, it’s all about seeing the world through a customer lens:

‘Redesigning your CX has to begin with a coherent customer strategy that encompasses all interaction points across the enterprise.  There needs to be a willingness to embrace the lessons learned through truly understanding the customer journey and recognising that execution may necessitate the breaking down of legacy siloes.

Arnold adds, ‘The availability of innovative technologies that harness AI and RPA are hugely attractive and there is no doubt that there is an opportunity to automate many interactions.  But automation should only be the option where it is doesn’t negatively impact the customer and where there is no value in a human to human engagement.   We believe the real opportunity lies in getting this balance right and harnessing the power of AI enabled technology to augment human to human engagement.’

Once there is a defined, enterprise-wide CX strategy, there are four key steps to success:

  1. Create a data-driven culture
    To turn data into valuable business insights, businesses need to gain access to skills that will enable them to better anticipate and then serve, customer needs.
  2. Start thinking omni-channel integration
    Customers should enjoy an integrated customer experience, regardless of the platform they use. Through connected experiences, positive results are faster and smarter.
  3. Automate where appropriate
    When weighing up customer convenience and cost drivers, the rule of automation is ‘keep it simple.’ Only automate where the process is robust and, critically, only when human interaction is unlikely to make a difference.
  4. Combine CX reality with human values
    Humans add value by understanding other people, not by memorising processes and technical information. Ensure your employee experience and workforce management are optimised for best results.

Why CX matters:

  • More than 2/3 say it increases revenue/profits

  • 6% say no one is responsible and ownership is unclear

  • 9% of CX teams are unable to get a cross-channel view of performance

  • 3% believe robotic automation and AI volumes will grow over the next two years

  • FCR is lower than 20 years ago – challenge – fcr is an absolute number – not subjective

  • 87% can evidence increased customer loyalty

  • 88% recognise CX as a competitive differentiator

  • Agents were recognized as difference makers, yet two in five organisations fail to measure employee engagement.

Download a copy of the Dimension Data Customer Experience Global Benchmarking Report 2019, Executive guide here:

To learn more about delivering the right experience for your customers, contact us


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