By Stephanie Ventura

In 2020, enterprises and consumers were forced to cope with unpredictable circumstances that altered how customers behave, what they want from brands and most importantly, how organizations can meet their evolving expectations.

As we figure out what comes next in 2021 and beyond, one thing is certain: enterprises must advance their approaches, strategies and tactics to better understand customer behavior and deliver the experiences their customers demand.

In this year’s survey, we sought to uncover what separates customer experience leaders from laggards. Pointillist surveyed over 1,150 CX, marketing, analytics and customer care professionals from various industries across the world to identify best practices, approaches, benchmarks and tactics used by top performing organizations.

In this post, we’ll summarize a few of the key insights from the 2021 State of Customer Journey Management and CX Measurement Report:

  1. Journey Management Maturity Separates CX Leaders from the Pack
  2. Quantifying ROI Remains the Top CX Challenge
  3. Digital Transformation Succeeds by Focusing on the Customer
  4. CX and Marketing Don’t See Eye to Eye
  5. Organizations Still Struggle to Deliver Consistent Omnichannel Experiences
download the full cx survey report

1. Journey Management Maturity Separates CX Leaders from the Pack

Companies cannot solve customer needs within the traditional organizational silos. Companies that use customer journey programs to realign their organization around their customer can realize improvements of 20 to 40 points in customer advocacy scores, cost reductions of 15% to 25%, and revenue increases of 10% to 20%.

Bharat Poddar

Bharat Poddar
Managing Director and Senior Partner
Boston Consulting Group

High Performers Align Their Organization Around Journeys

Today, organizations recognize the value of a journey-based approach when it comes to measuring and improving customer experience. In fact, 93% of high performers say a journey-based approach is very or extremely important, compared to just 63% of underperformers.

The most effective, high-performing teams align their organizations around journeys and use customer journey management to manage, measure and improve CX. The majority of high performers (68%) have a role or team dedicated to journey management, compared to 31% of underperformers.

cx survey finding: leaders have journey management teams

Overall, 53% or organizations currently have a dedicated role or team, 10% plan to add one, and 19% have aligned existing roles/teams with a journey-based approach.

Journey managers have the potential to reinvent their organizations, bringing together colleagues from across departments and those unavoidable silos to ensure that customers have a smooth experience, no matter what part of the end-to-end journey they’re currently in.

Kerry Bodine

Kerry Bodine
Bodine and Company

Top Performers Benefit from More Effective Journey Data Management

High performers are more effective at integrating and taking action on their cross-channel customer data. They are more likely to track customer behavior in multiple channels and connect that data across touchpoints or systems.

Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to access and unify customer data. Almost half (45%) of underperformers say they cannot access omnichannel data or data is siloed, while 75% of high performers do not have these issues.

Siloed data forces almost half (48%) of underperforming teams to independently analyze and optimize the performance of individual touchpoints, rather than the omnichannel journeys customers actually take to achieve their goals.

leading CX teams track more omnichannel customer data

With more mature data integration capabilities, high-performing teams are more effective at journey management, measurement and optimization.

High Performers Take a More Mature Approach to Measure and Improve CX

Top performers use more advanced measurement approaches and are more effective at measuring and optimizing customer experience. 

In fact, high performers are:

  • 1.6 times more likely to use customer journey management 
  • 1.6 times more likely to score customer journeys
  • 3.0 times more likely to use customer journey orchestration to improve experiences

These approaches enable organizations to measure journeys and quantify the impact of customer behavior on business outcomes, as well as optimize CX by ensuring that every interaction reflects each individual customer’s overall experience. Powered by these approaches, top performing teams are more likely to be satisfied with their CX capabilities and effective at measuring the impact of CX on outcomes like revenue, churn, lifetime value and more.

Conversely, underperforming teams predominantly rely on qualitative approaches like customer journey mapping.

percentage of cx survey respondents who use journey-based approaches
Top organizations are 5.9X more likely to be very or extremely effective at quantifying the impact of #CX on outcomes than underperformers. #CJXM21 #CustomerJourneyAnalytics Click To Tweet

High Performers are More Likely to Master Critical CX Capabilities

High-performing teams are more likely to be effective at implementing critical CX capabilities, such as analyzing omnichannel behavior over time, orchestrating relevant experiences given a customer’s unique context, quantifying the impact of CX on business metrics and more. 

Over 70% of top performers are effective at rapidly generating actionable insights, as well as taking action on those insights and customer feedback data to make a tangible impact. These capabilities enable high performers to significantly improve customer experiences and business outcomes.

On the other hand, underperformers struggle to master each ability. Data integration is their greatest challenge, with only 6.2% reporting that they are very or extremely effective at connecting sources into a single customer view. This heavily impacts their capacity to analyze omnichannel journeys and engage with customers in a relevant way, limiting their ability to effectively measure and optimize CX.

percentage of teams that are effective at customer data integration and customer analytics

2. Quantifying ROI Remains the Top CX Challenge

Organizations need to understand what to focus on to make customer journeys better at delivering the experience we want our customers to have. Customer Journey Management is a cycle of continuous, interconnected activities that start with knowing who the customer is in the first place, so you can measure their journey and identify the small number of priorities that will have the greatest impact on improving customer perception and financial performance.

Ian Golding

Ian Golding
CEO and Founder
Customer Experience Consultancy Ltd.

Quantifying Customer Experience ROI Continues to be the #1 Overall CX Challenge

For the third consecutive year, quantifying the ROI of CX initiatives is the top customer experience challenge.

Most organizations across industries struggle to connect customer behavior and journeys to business outcomes, such as revenue, churn, cost to serve and more. Only 36% of organizations are very or extremely satisfied with their overall CX performance and the outcomes of their CX investments.

top cx challenges from 2021 cx survey

While organizations are measuring customer experience KPIs, they lack the means to connect these metrics to business outcomes. Almost half (41%) of companies say that they capture improvements in metrics like NPS® or customer satisfaction, but they are challenged to translate that into revenue or costs.

41% of companies say they capture improvements in #CXmetrics like NPS, but can’t relate that to revenue or costs. #CJXM21 #CX #CustomerJourneyAnalytics Click To Tweet

An Inability to Quantify CX ROI Negatively Impacts CX Budgets

Successful experience leaders create value for customers and ROI for the brand. They partner with their CFO to build an understanding of how business cases are developed and learn the levers they use with executives to understand and attach experience initiatives to business goals.

Diane Magers

Diane Magers
Founder and Chief Experience Officer
Experience Catalysts

The inability to quantify ROI often results in stagnant or shrinking budgets. This year, four of the top five biggest challenges to obtaining additional CX investment are related to quantifying ROI.

Almost half (41%) of underperformers and average performers say their inability to quantify ROI is the greatest challenge to obtaining budget, compared to only 22% of high performers. Further, 26% of underperformers had a decrease in budget, versus only 5% of top performers.

But high performers are much more effective at quantifying the impact of CX and thus do not face similar challenges with obtaining increased CX investment. In fact, top performers are 7.6 times more likely to be very or extremely satisfied with their ability to quantify the impact of CX on business metrics and outcomes and 2 times more likely to receive a budget increase.

cx survey finds that 65% of leading teams obtained a budget increase for CX

3. Digital Transformation Succeeds by Focusing on the Customer

It’s time to take a step back and revisit all of your business processes in order to do digital transformation right. It’s time to think about the efficiencies, the more effective decision-making, and the personalized experiences your digital transformation will deliver. What are the desired outcomes for all constituents? It’s time to think about customersand all other constituentsand what it means for them when the transformation is complete.

Annette Franz

Annette Franz
Founder and CEO
CX Journey Inc.

With lockdowns shuttering storefronts during the pandemic, digital channels were a lifeline for consumers and businesses alike. Over the past year, consumers made their need for exceptional digital experiences very clear, increasing the importance of digital transformation efforts.

This year, organizations rank a lack of self-help mechanisms as the second highest customer frustration based on negative impact on CX. The increase from the sixth most negative impact on CX in last year’s CX survey to the second most this year underscores the growing importance of digital self-service.

To meet customer needs, companies are prioritizing digital transformation efforts and investments. Respondents report that increasing digital self-service is the #2 priority for CX improvement over the next 12 months and digital transformation is the #2 top overall CX investment priority for the next year.

cx survey finding: top CX priority is to increase digital self-service
Companies say increasing digital #selfservice is the #2 priority for #CX improvement over the next year. #CJXM21 #CustomerJourneyAnalytics Click To Tweet

Top Performers Prioritize Digital Transformation and CX Optimization

Across performance levels, organizations agree that digital transformation is necessary to respond to changing customer needs and demands. Digital transformation ranks in the top three for CX-related investment priorities over the next year.

Top performers prioritize tools that enable CX improvement along with digital transformation. High performers consider approaches like journey management and customer journey analytics critical to their success.

In contrast, underperformers are more likely to prioritize investments in customer data management, journey mapping and customer feedback management.

list of cx investment priorities for the next year

Legacy Technology Makes it Difficult to Meet Consumers’ Expectations for Digital Experiences

The primary reason CX needs to be involved in digital transformation is because digitizing a broken process just leads to a broken digitized process. In other words, without moving forward based on what your customers actually want and need, you risk investing a lot of time and money to succeed only in frustrating them more quickly and efficiently!

Jim Tencher

Jim Tincher
Founder and CEO
Heart of the Customer

Legacy tools and technology are an obstacle to digital transformation, making it challenging to respond to customers’ changing needs and expectations.

Overall, the #2 CX-related challenge is the limitations of legacy tools and technology. This challenge did not even make the top five challenges in the previous two years.

Lacking the right tools or technology to collect and/or analyze data is also the #5 CX measurement challenge. Organizations that cannot measure journeys struggle to identify and prioritize opportunities for digital transformation that improve customer experience. Therefore, they cannot determine the best initiatives that will meet the increasing consumer demand for intuitive and efficient digital experiences.

4. CX and Marketing Don’t See Eye to Eye

Customer-centric enterprises make it a priority to align the entire organization around their customers. Regardless of whether CX lives within marketing or is separate from it, the way a brand markets itself has to be consistent with what customers actually experience or those customers are never coming back.

Dave Edelman

Dave Edelman
Former CMO

Marketers Rate Their Own Capabilities Higher Than CX Teams Do

Organizational alignment is essential for delivering seamless customer experiences. However, marketing and CX leaders provided diverging perspectives in this year’s CX survey.

Marketing teams say they prioritize CX initiatives and are tightly aligned with CX teams. But the majority of CX leaders don’t agree.

In addition, marketing teams believe they are more effective at certain CX capabilities than their colleagues in CX believe. In fact, 44% of marketers say they’re very or extremely effective at analyzing cross-channel customer behavior, while only 32% of CX professionals concur.

Further, 55% of marketers say they’re very or extremely effective at taking action on customer insights and feedback data to make a business impact, though only 39% of CX teams agree.

key cx survey finding: marketing and cx teams are not aligned on customer experience initiatives

#MKTG teams say they’re tightly aligned with #CX teams, but most CX teams don’t agree. #CJXM21 Click To Tweet

High Performers Align CX and Marketing on Approaches, Goals and Initiatives

Remarkable CX can be your biggest marketing differentiator. It’s imperative that marketing and CX teams align on priorities, goals and initiatives, so they can gain more customers by improving what actually matters to their existing customers.

Dan Gingiss

Dan Gingiss
The Experience Maker

When marketing and CX teams operate independently, rather than aligning their priorities and objectives, they risk frustrating customers with inconsistent, disjointed experiences.

High performers are much more likely to have a strong alignment between CX and marketing. In fact, compared with underperforming organizations, marketing and CX at high performers are:

  • 2.1 times more likely to be tightly aligned on a customer-centric approach and goals
  • 2.1 times more likely to regularly collaborate on CX initiatives
successful organizations report tight alignment between cx and marketing teams

Optimal alignment between CX and marketing results in higher satisfaction with critical CX capabilities. Top performers are 3.9 times more likely to be very or extremely satisfied with their ability to quickly generate customer insights and 3.5 times more likely to be very or extremely satisfied with their ability to take actions based on those insights than underperformers.

5. Organizations Still Struggle to Deliver Consistent Omnichannel Experiences

Customers are moving from channel to channel because they can and they want to. They are selecting the most convenient and accessible channel that serves them. This means to serve them, companies need a centralized view of the customer and their interactions throughout their journey with your company.

Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters
Experience Investigators™ 

Siloed Data is the Primary Barrier to Omnichannel Success

A lack of connected journey data continues to be the largest barrier to measuring and delivering seamless, personalized experiences across channels. Over half (57%) of organizations say that data is not accessible, siloed or is not unified in a single customer view.

To interact with customers in a relevant way, customer-centric leaders know they need a single source of integrated customer journey data. But 65% of CX teams do not have omnichannel journey data integrated into a single customer view. Further, lacking access to siloed data is the #3 CX measurement challenge.

CX teams struggle with customer data silos

While complex, disconnected omnichannel journeys are a major issue for customers, journey orchestration is not a high investment priority for most organizations. Overall, only 14% of organizations say that customer journey orchestration is a top investment priority. And less than one third of organizations say that customer data management is one of their top three investment priorities over the next 12 months.

Data is a blocker to great omnichannel #CX. 57% of orgs say that data is inaccessible, siloed or not unified into a single customer view. #CJXM21 Click To Tweet

High Performers Are More Likely to Be Able to Analyze and Orchestrate Omnichannel Journeys

We operate in an omnichannel world. Experience leaders are using journey analytics and orchestration to capture omnichannel touches in order to map, analyze, and improve customer journeys. The happiest journeys honor customer preferences, whatever the channel, while improving results for both the customer and business.

Hank Brigman

Hank Brigman
President & Touchpoint Strategist
Customer Experience Strategies

Every enterprise knows that customers expect every interaction—regardless of channel—to reflect their current goals and overall experience. But most teams struggle to deliver relevant and consistent experiences across channels.

Respondents once again believe that a lack of personalization is the #1 driver of negative customer experiences. Delivering consistent, exceptional CX across channels and delivering personalization at scale are the #4 and #5 top CX challenges overall.

list of 2021 overall cx measurement challenges

High-performing teams are more likely to have the capabilities necessary to both analyze and orchestrate omnichannel journeys. In fact, top performers are 3.1 times more likely to employ journey orchestration. Using this approach, high performers are:

  • 8.1 times more likely to be effective at analyzing omnichannel interactions
  • 6 times more likely to be effective at engaging customers across channels and over time 

Customer Experience Measurement and Improvement in 2021 and Beyond

The past year saw dramatic shifts in customer needs and behavior. This year’s CX survey shows that organizations that are rapidly maturing their approach to customer journey management and CX measurement were better equipped to meet evolving customer demands and achieve their business goals.

The most effective CX teams leverage journey-based strategies and technology that advance their ability to monitor and measure experiences and take actions that maximize the success of every journey. Prioritizing a journey-based approach and investing in resources to mature your measurement program sets the foundation for future success for both your customers and your business.

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