Thursday, April 21, 2016

Top 10 #CX Challenges for 2016

Image courtesy of Juju Insipired
What customer experience challenges are you facing this year?

Even though 2016 is already a third of the way over, I thought it would be interesting to share some findings about key customer experience challenges that have been identified for this year. Sadly, they are really not much different from what we've heard in recent years.

Are companies really not making progress? You tell me. What was your last really awesome experience? And was the previous one you had with that company equally as awesome? And how many other companies have you interacted with since then? Were those experiences awesome, too?

Yea, I didn't think so.

You may have heard me say before that it's hard to talk about customer experience trends when there are still so many companies who need to get the basics right. For example, while companies might be listening to their customers, they aren't necessarily acting on the feedback. That's pointless. Or they're so focused on the metric that they overlook what customers are actually saying.

And that's what the findings are: the challenges are really around the fundamental basics or the foundational elements of a CX strategy.

CX Network recently published The Global State of Customer Experience 2016. Respondents were mostly CX practitioners (65.7%), with the remainder being solution providers (25.5%) and industry bloggers, analysts, and researchers (8.7%).

The report is packed with trends, challenges, and recommendations from folks who either live it or who advise on the topic. I'll focus on the Challenges section of the report, as this is an area that needs to be addressed before most businesses can move forward with their customer experience initiatives. The following graphic shows the top 10 challenges for this year, grouped by each of those three respondent types.

Source: The Global State of Customer Experience 2016
If you click on the image, you'll be able to see a larger version of it. You'll see how the practitioner responses compared to the predictions of vendors and consultants. Creating a customer-first culture is the top challenge for practitioners, followed by competing priorities, employee engagement, omnichannel experiences, and shifting from a product-focus to a customer-focus.

I can sum them all up as the following: commitment issues. Executive commitment issues, that is.

And that is a basic, fundamental issue that every organization with a consistently poor customer experience faces. I'm not surprised by these findings.

I loved that Zarina de Ruiter, the author of this research paper, asked practitioners what would help them overcome these challenges. Business cases to demonstrate ROI and culture change programs were a couple of the top answers. Others included: executives working together to make it happen, better communication across the organization, best practices to support their needs, a reduction in strategic priorities, a budget increase, more training and executive commitment to learning and development, increased board-level awareness of the importance of customer experience, and clearer communication from vendors on the benefits of an improved customer experience.

Do those challenges resonate with you and with what's happening within your organization? How are you addressing them?

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. -Unknown


  1. Annette,

    I have come to the conclusion that most people are selfish, and stupid, and don't have the good sense to worry about the customer experience.

    There are a few who are enlightened, but the number probably remains constant.

    So nothing much changes.

    So I guess we are destined, like Sisyphus, to keep rolling the stone up the hill.

    On a positive note, you will never be out of work. :)


    1. LOL. I always love how you call it like you see it. And truly, it is job security for those consulting on this topic!

  2. Annette,

    I've heard "Competing priorities" as an excuse for 20 years in marketing.

    Linking CX to ROI is 7th on this list when actually Competing Priorities == Linking CX to ROI.

    This may get me some hate mail but until CX practitioners actively link their CX initiatives to ROI they will always be in a losing battle to get investment dollars and come off second best in the competing priorities game.

    Investment capital is scarce, so when senior management allocate that capital it goes to projects with the highest ROI. If your CX initiative does have a good ROI, or more typically, it has not even been calculated, it will fall to the bottom of the pile.

    Marketers worked this out about 10 years ago and become rigorous with their numbers. CX practitioners must do the same.

    Adam Ramshaw

  3. Hi Annette,
    What's really interesting to me about the chart and research results is that 2 of the top 3 priorities for CX practitioners are people related. Does that imply a level of frustration with buy-in at an Exco level or the length of time or success of culture change programmes or both.....I wonder.


    1. Good question, Adrian. Probably some combination of that, but it would be interesting to see if there's any research out there on it.