Marketers failing to 'walk the multichannel walk'
Boardroom executives typically understand the importance of multichannel customer experience, but are failing to invest in the processes and frameworks to make this happen, according to research by Econsultancy and Foviance.
The second annual 'Multichannel Customer Experience Report' examined the extent to which organisations are committed to delivering an integrated experience in a world where the customer journey is becoming increasingly complex due to evolving technology and the proliferation of devices, and uncovered what the most successful multichannel companies are doing differently.
The study concluded that what it calls 'mature companies' have already overcome technical challenges and are using a much wider range of data sources than other companies to understand the customer experience.
A commitment to customer experience from the top of the organisation is regarded as a key requirement by just under half (46%) of companies and marketing agencies surveyed - higher than for all other organisational attributes deemed to be important.
More than half of responding companies rate themselves either as 'excellent' (21%) or 'good' (37%) in terms of internal buy-in at the top of their organisations. However, only 26% of respondents say their companies have a well-developed strategy in place for improving customer experience, only a slight increase over 22% in 2010.
The research also found that 'complexity of customer experience' is now seen as the greatest barrier to improving multichannel customer experience, overtaking 'organisational structure' since 2010. In addition, mature companies are more likely to have overcome technology and data-related issues. The 'immature' companies (deemed so because they are still worried about technology and systems) tend to losing sight of the importance of customer service and empowered staff.
According to Econsultancy's research director, Linus Gregoriadis, "The understanding about the importance of customer experience is there, but many business leaders are 'talking the talk without walking the walk'. Evidence of ownership of customer experience among company executives has not necessarily translated into clearly-defined strategies, frameworks and processes for making it happen."
As part of the latest research, organisations were asked to rate themselves on five key areas that are crucial for delivering an integrated, compelling multichannel customer experience: systems & processes, leadership & culture, alignment with brand, customer touch points, and use of insight. 'Mature companies' are those which scored highly across the five key pillars of this Foviance Multichannel Customer Experience Maturity Model.
Five additional sector-specific consumer surveys about customer experience were carried out (surveying 5,000 consumers in total) covering retail, travel, online banking, mobile phone providers and gaming/gambling. The online research, carried out using TolunaQuick, found that 69% of consumers have dealt with a retail company online and 73% of people would be likely to recommend a retail brand based on good customer experience.
Among other key findings from the 2011 Multichannel Customer Experience study:
- Just over a quarter (28%) of companies say there is ownership of customer experience at board or 'C-level', but without full commitment across leadership teams. Almost a fifth of companies (18%) say there is 'C-level ownership of the total customer experience'.
- The gap between mature companies and others is typically more pronounced for integration of digital channels, such website, email and internet advertising, into the overall customer experience.
- The gap is less obvious for offline touch points (for example retail outlets, direct marketing and events), with the notable exception of telephone support and sales where mature companies are way ahead of the curve.
- The research also shows how mature and 'immature' companies have a different perception of the attributes required for delivering a positive customer experience. Mature companies are far more likely than the least mature organisations to regard motivated and empowered staff and efficient customer service as being among the most important attributes.
- In contrast, immature companies are more focused on visibility of customer behaviour across channels and the need for a single or joined-up customer database.
The full report has been made available for purchase from the Econsultancy web site - click here.