By Steve Offsey

I recently sat down with three luminaries in the field of customer experience to discuss the highlights of Pointillist’s third annual report on the State of Customer Journey Management and CX Measurement.  The experts joining me include:

  • Diane Magers, who is the founder and CEO of Experience Catalysts and an Emeritus Chair and former CEO of the Customer Experience Professionals Association
  • Ian Golding is the founder and CEO of Customer Experience Consultancy Ltd and an internationally renowned speaker and blogger
  • Dan Gingiss is the CEO at The Experience Maker. Dan is also a keynote speaker, author of the book Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, a host of the Experience This! podcast and the Experience Maker Show

The report compiled survey results of more than 1,150 CX, analytics, marketing and customer care professionals worldwide, across a variety of industries. In this discussion, our panel explored five major findings:

  1. Top Performers Succeed with Journey-based Approaches
  2. Quantifying CX ROI Remains the Top Challenge for Third Consecutive Year
  3. Digital Transformation Succeeds by Focusing on Your Customer
  4. CX and Marketing are Not Aligned
  5. Delivering Exceptional Omnichannel Experiences is Still an Obstacle
state of customer journey MGMT and customer experience webinar CTA

​​Steve Offsey: To identify key factors that separate top performing teams from their peers, the report groups respondents into three segments based upon overall satisfaction with their organization’s CX performance. Much of the data we’ll be discussing today will highlight the differences between high performers who are very or extremely satisfied with their organization’s CX performance and under performers who are not satisfied with their organization’s CX performance. So let’s jump right into the key findings.

1. Top Performers Succeed with Journey-based Approaches

​​Steve Offsey: The first key finding is that the most effective high-performing teams are using a journey-based approach to manage, measure and improve CX. Let’s dive in to better understand what we mean when we say a journey-based approach. 

It’s no surprise that nearly all our respondents said that a journey based strategy is very or extremely important to their organization’s success. However, more companies are also aligning their organizations around journeys. This year, 68% of high performers reported having a role or a team dedicated to customer journey management. Top performers are more than twice as likely to have journey-based roles or teams than under performers. Adoption of journey-based approaches like journey management, journey analytics, and customer journey orchestration also continues to grow. And it’s no surprise that high-performing organizations are much more likely to be leveraging these approaches than under performers.

cx survey finding: leaders have journey management teams

As we all know, data integration, journey analysis and journey orchestration are crucial to delivering exceptional experiences that customers demand. High performers who leverage journey-based approaches are much more likely to master CX capabilities like cross-channel data integration, which enables omnichannel analytics and engagement.

Ian, this trend has been steadily growing over the last few years. What advantages do CX leaders gain from using a journey management approach?

Ian Golding: Well, firstly, Steve, I have to say I am over the moon with the results of this research. Because as Diane and Dan know, in fact, they probably heard me ramble on about this far too often. Journey management is something that has been so severely lacking over the last five to 10 years that it’s one of the reasons why organizations are not seeing the transformation in customer experience that they’re hoping to see. In other words, they’re still finding it difficult, as I’m sure we should explore later on in this conversation, to understand how improving the customer journey even benefits the organization. Journey management is such a critical competency as I describe it, because as we’ve discussed for years, the customer journey has always existed. It’s interesting. There are lots of conversations online on LinkedIn and other places, “The customer journey is a waste of time, don’t waste your time mapping the customer journey, it doesn’t achieve anything.”

Well, you do have to waste your time mapping and understanding the customer journey, because it is there. It’s always been there. But just mapping it doesn’t make any difference at all, that I agree with. Ultimately, what we’ve got to continue to educate all industries to understand is that journeys already exist. And if you’re able to manage it as a living, breathing organism, then you will see measurable, demonstrable change. And that’s why it is of no surprise to me whatsoever that the high performers, the overachievers, are able to demonstrate that. Because not only are they visualizing the journey, that overlaying measurement onto it, and as a result they’re using fact to determine where it is that there is the greatest opportunity to improve that journey, and then they go and improve it. It’s not rocket science, but if they’re able to do that and do that not just as a one-off activity, but continuously as a never ending cycle of management, then they will realize the return that they’re looking for.

So as I say, I really genuinely am so delighted that your research is proving that we’re not just conceptual, theoretical nutcases. This really does work.

Dan Gingiss: Hey, speak for yourself, Ian.

Steve Offsey: So, I had to prove that you’re not nut cases.

Ian Golding: That you might find difficult to Dan’s point, yeah.

Steve Offsey: Anyone else have any perspective to share on how quickly organizations are maturing in terms of organizing around journeys, measuring journeys, and acting based on journeys?

Diane Magers: Yeah, I would love to add onto it. As Ian said, what we find is organizations now are being much more intentional about those activities. That they’re not just finding and fixing, but they’re actually orchestrating a portfolio of projects that are intentionally designed to get to a certain output. And bringing all those together and having a holistic view of that, that’s what we really consider journey management. It’s not a bunch of activities going on that are tied together and intentional toward a future state the organization wants to accomplish. So I think we’ve also seen that become more of a common practice where it wasn’t before. And that’s really the enablement of this journey management; having that governance to see all the things that are going on and how they’re going to impact the experience. So you can look at attitude, business value, you can communicate what we want the future to be like, so they’re skating in the same direction. Dan?

"That's really the enablement of #JourneyManagement; having that governance to see all the things that are going on and how they're going to impact the experience." – @DianeMagers #CJXM21 Click To Tweet

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, a thing I would add here, and I really liked what Ian said about how the journey map is not the destination. It’s a tool that we use to get to the destination. The thing that I would add though is that chances are your company doesn’t just have one journey map, because you don’t just have one type of customer. And I like to say in somewhat of a joking matter, I used to be a marketer for 20 years. It’s like, if you decided to create a persona of a mid-40s, white, bald guy who lives in Chicago. Yeah, I’m going to fit in that persona, but so are a million other mid-40s, white bald guys in Chicago that I don’t have anything in common with. And so, we may behave completely differently, we have different preferences, we have different histories, backgrounds, and also we’re going to go through different journeys. So be sure to keep that in mind.

What I love about this data is that there’s so much information on high performers, listening to customers and taking action on it. That’s how you really get into this concept that the journey is constantly evolving and is different for each customer.

Ian Golding: Totally agree. And if I just take it a step further, what it demonstrates is that there’s a greater understanding of the science of customer experience as I like to refer to it. But, not that I want to sound negative, there is still a very, very long way to go. Despite the positivity of these numbers, still I’m seeing organizations who are diving into far too much granular detail, mapping journeys to the minutiae of detail. That’s not the point. This is not about documenting stuff for the sake of documenting it. And again, the point is that again, I love what you described, Dan. It’s not the destination. This is not about documenting a Bible of journeys. The reason we map the journey is still misunderstood. And it’s still misunderstood by too many, because it is a way of driving continuous measurable change. That’s the reason we need to know what the journey looks like. And that’s why I think the work you’re doing at Pointillist to raise the profile of this is so important, because we have a long way to go before the majority understand it.

Steve Offsey: Yeah, that’s a key point. So don’t worry, Dan. These are the high performers that are way out there ahead, but there’s a lot of work to be done with a lot of companies to get them to where the high performers already are.

Ian Golding: One hundred percent. By the way, Dan had hair when he was a marketer. It’s only when he went to customer experience that he lost it.

Dan Gingiss: That’s true. He speaks the truth.

2. Quantifying CX ROI Remains the Top Challenge for Third Consecutive Year

Steve Offsey: Well, let’s move on to our second point. The second point from the survey revealed that quantifying the ROI of customer experience is still one of the toughest challenges for CX leaders. And it’s arguably one of the most important ones for CX teams to overcome, to prove value and secure additional investment in CX initiatives. For the third consecutive year survey respondents said that quantifying the ROI of customer experience initiatives is their top CX challenge. There are several other findings that likely contribute to this. For example, more than three quarters of underperforming teams said their CX measurement program is too immature or altogether non-existent. And almost half of all organizations said they track KPIs like NPS® and CSAT, but have no real way to quantify their impact on business outcomes like cost to serve and revenue.

top cx challenges from 2021 cx survey

Steve Offsey: These challenges can hinder CX leaders’ ability to procure additional investment. Without the ability to demonstrate how customer behavior impacts business results, it’s a real challenge to make a business case for future budget. In fact, 39% of CX professionals said that an inability to determine the ROI of CX investments is their number one challenge for obtaining additional budget. And 41% of CX teams said that the top barrier to quantifying CX ROI is that CX metrics like NPS and CSAT are difficult to translate into revenue and costs.

Nevertheless, high performers are more likely to be satisfied with their ability to quantify the impact of customer journeys and experiences, and are therefore twice as likely to obtain a budget increase, since they are more likely to be able to quantify how customer experience impacts business outcomes. Diane, you have a lot of experience helping CX teams address this issue. Why do you think that quantifying the ROI of CX initiatives is still the number one challenge?

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

Diane Magers: I think there is really a misunderstanding when we think about the methods and measures that we use as CX professionals. The metrics are really outcomes. They’re an indicator of a bunch of things that have happened. And so we find that the correlation of those metrics is part of the story. Part of the story, I’d love to say, is the fact that we’re not looking at the measures and the changes in customer behavior that we’re after, where you can actually tie results to that. So a great example of that is if you were to change the way a customer gets support, technical support, let’s say, and you’re able to improve their satisfaction and improve their net promoter score. That’s great, because we know those people who give us higher scores buy more, stay longer, but it’s a correlation versus the structure you put in place to get better support.

You’re going to reduce the time and effort for the customer. You’re going to reduce the time and effort of the technical team. You’re going to increase productivity for both your organization and the customer. So we need to get down to those details of what we’re actually going to measure in order to put dollars against it. Cost to serve, all the things you’re talking about. Because if you really stop and think about it, the role of CX in any organization is to help the organization achieve its business goals. Well, if you’re not aligned to that, and you’re talking just about net promoter and CSAT, it’s not resonating with the executives. So the ability for us to partner with a CFO to really define the business cases around the projects that we’re moving forward and their outcome, as well as the measures we put in place, then the business case is really critical for us. I don’t know how it is that we as professionals in this space can go to a CEO or an executive team and say, “We need money and investment,” when we’re not bringing a business case like everybody else.

So you’ve got to find a way to really put those two things together and tell more of the story rather than just the outcome metrics that we’ve been talking about.

Dan Gingiss: Two things. First of all, it’s no wonder that NPS and CSAT can’t translate directly into revenue and our costs, because the problem, these are great metrics, but they only tell you how you’re doing, they don’t tell you why. And if you’re not also looking for the why, then seeing that NPS went up or down this month versus last month is a nice to know, it’s a nice to have, but it is not actionable. And so it has to be paired with qualitative feedback in terms of customer survey responses, but actually, I prefer open-ended responses or focus groups or other types of things, where you’re actually in front of the customer hearing about their experience, because then you can say, “Ah, okay, I never knew this was a problem, but I’ll bet that’s why our NPS score is down.”

"It's no wonder that #NPS and #CSAT can't translate directly into revenue and our costs, because the problem, these are great metrics, but they only tell you how you're doing, they don't tell you why.” – @dgingiss #CJXM2 Click To Tweet

Dan Gingiss: And now you’ve got the combination of the symptoms, NPS score is down. And then ultimately the medicine, which is: the customer is telling me that this part of the journey isn’t working for them. And you have to put those two together. The other thing is that I think CX people get maybe overwhelmed at this quantification of business value. As Diane referred to, we really are affecting metrics that are already in existence. We don’t need to create new metrics here, right? So she mentioned ‘cost to serve,’ which I think is a great one. Another one that I would tell my clients to focus on—and in fact have learned recently that a lot of VC investors are asking entrepreneurs to focus on—is customer retention rate. Great, you can bring on all these customers because you have some sparkling marketing, but are you actually keeping them? Or are they just buying once from you and leaving?

And so focusing on something like retention rate is a great indicator of how well the CX program is working. And that’s an indicator that you’re probably already tracking. So you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take it away, Ian.

Ian Golding: I completely agree with Dan, and Diane is the master of all things related to this. But the additional thoughts I would add to what Diane and Dan have said is that one of the things that we need the world, that business to recognize is that we never stop learning. And there are so many concepts that have evolved over the years, but very often we forget some of the concepts that came 30 years ago and we get very excited about the new ones, but all of these concepts that have been created over time were created for a reason. And 30 years ago the world was obsessed with BPM, business process management was the thing, everyone was obsessed with process. The problem is that over the last 30 years, businesses have forgotten or just don’t understand that there is a relationship between process and the customer journey.

And the reason for that is exactly as Dan described. Customer experience is all about cause and effect. What we do every day, our processes, will cause the customer to feel the way they feel as they experience their interactions in the journey. But the problem again as Dan and Diane said is that we’re so obsessed with metrics like NPS. We’re only measuring the effect of everything that we’re doing, businesses need to make sure they understand the measurable relationship between process and journey. And then in addition to that, I have been talking for the last six months about four voices of customer experience measurement. Now, many people have heard me talk about three of them, voice of the customer, voice of the employee and voice of the process, as I’ve just inferred. But it’s the addition of the fourth voice that is the final point I’ll make. Because the fourth voice I call, “voice of the business.” I think we need to be much more overt in demonstrating the relationship between improving customer experience related measures and the impact they have on business related measures. Strategic metrics are the ‘voice of the business.’

“I think we need to be much more overt in demonstrating the relationship between improving #CustomerExperience related measures and the impact they have on business related measures. Strategic #metrics are the ‘voice of the… Click To Tweet

Ian Golding: Because at the moment too many customer experience professionals are looking at customer experience related metrics in isolation, so they can’t show the relationship between them. So, this is the real science of customer experience. But again, it’s important that people are comfortable with stopping for a second and just reassessing. If we don’t know what their connection is, then we need to do something differently, and don’t fear doing it differently, but stop and reassess.

Steve Offsey: Yeah, absolutely. The thing that I worry about is how this affects customer experience professionals as a profession or discipline in itself? If CX professionals maintain a qualitative stance—what I sometimes call ‘arts and crafts’ CX, which is purely qualitative and emotional—and outsource not only the quantitative aspects, but the actual business cases to other teams in the company like business intelligence or analytics, then the result will be the dire predictions recently made about the profession’s lasting power. Diane, you’ve been head of the CXPA, can you say a few words on sort of that trend? Is customer experience professionals, is it still growing and how does this impact its future health?

Diane Magers: I think it continues to grow dramatically and we see more interest from executives around how they can adopt this, since I think they do make the connection. But unfortunately we haven’t been able to really pull our weight when it comes to doing that. I believe, I’ll confess, you guys – I was a psychology geek before I started all this work. And so I was working for a logistics company and I had to talk about the bottom line, because otherwise they aren’t going to listen to me. While they believed in it and knew that it was the right thing to do, they needed to have the dollars behind it. So if I can do it, everybody can. It’s a matter of finding a model or someone who can guide you through how to think about it in your organization. So I would reach out to somebody who I know does a great job at it, or go look at other types of business cases, go back to Ian’s point of value mapping, that was very popular in the ’90s. That value creation map really hasn’t changed. We just need to figure out how to leverage it. 

Ian Golding: I found myself talking more and more in the last three weeks about time and motion studies. Because a lot of people are saying to me, “How do I convince the business that there’s a lot of waste in what we do?” But we used to be quite good at doing time and motion studies in organizations to demonstrate just how much time we wasted doing nothing of value. We’ll do it again. I totally agree with you, Diane, but we need to just do whatever it takes. And the problem is, Steve, that there are too many people with CX job titles, unfortunately over the years who have had no formal education, no formal training in any of this. So, they’ve learned on the job, but they don’t really understand the competencies that sit behind it.

3. Digital Transformation Succeeds by Focusing on Your Customer

Steve Offsey: Next, the survey looked at digital transformation initiatives and found that not surprisingly they’re most successful when companies put the customer first. So what’s some of the data behind that? I’m sure everyone is aware that the pandemic greatly accelerated the use of digital channels, which became a lifeline for consumers and businesses alike. With more and more customers relying on digital channels, any shortcomings in these channels were magnified. This year respondents said that a lack of effective digital self-help mechanisms are their number two greatest frustration for customers. This is prompting CX leaders to prioritize increasing and optimizing digital self-service, which ranked as the number two CX priority for the next year.

cx survey finding: top CX priority is to increase digital self-service

Steve Offsey: Across all performance levels, digital transformation ranks in the top three for CX related investment priorities over the next year. However, there are some differences. High performers consider approaches like journey management and customer journey analytics critical to their success. In contrast, under performers are more likely to prioritize investments in customer data management, journey mapping, and customer feedback management. Respondents also said that legacy tools and technology are a major obstacle to accomplishing their digital transformation goals and make it challenging to respond to customers’ changing needs and expectations. Without the right technology to support CX measurement, it’s difficult to determine the best initiatives that will meet the increasing consumer demand for intuitive and efficient digital experiences. Dan, how can organizations ensure that they are prioritizing initiatives based on customer needs, and not purely based on internal business goals like reducing costs?

Dan Gingiss: Well, Steve, to answer that question, I want to start with a quick story, which gets to how I got so passionate about customer experience. As I mentioned, I was a marketer for 20 plus years and 10 of those were at Discover Card. And my last job at Discover Card for three years was the head of digital customer experience and social media. Now I got recruited to that role by the chief digital officer. And when he recruited me, I went out to lunch with them and I said, “Look, man, I only have one question. Why in the world did you choose me for this job? I don’t have any customer experience background and I don’t have any social media background, what’s going on?” And he said something that actually changed the whole path of my career. He said, “Dan, I’ve observed you in business meetings and you are always wearing the customer’s hat. You are always approaching business problems from the customer perspective. And I think we need to do that digitally.”

Now, he was a man ahead of his time, because this was 2013, ’14. But he’s absolutely right. Now it was a game changer for me because I thought about it. I’m like, “Yeah, I do do that,” but I never could put that into words. It just kind of came naturally to me. And I think ultimately if it came more naturally to more people and more organizations, we wouldn’t have all of these challenges, right? As I like to tell people, “Without customers, we don’t have a business. So there’s really nothing more important than our customers.” And so if we are taking, if we have business priorities and we haven’t run them by the customers, or we haven’t gotten any feedback or we haven’t determined that this is even something that they want, we are destined for failure.

Now, this finding about self-service is a great example, because although it got exacerbated during the pandemic, this was already a trend that was very apparent, especially in younger generations, millennials and younger. Who kind of came down to the scene and said, “Look, we don’t want to wait on hold. We don’t want to have to send an email. We just want to solve the problem ourselves.” And then Gen Xers like me were like, “Yeah, yeah, we want to solve the problem ourselves too.” And so that demand has been there. And yet it’s remarkable how many sites it is so difficult to do that. And the funny thing is that when you tie all of this together, what happens when people self-serve? We reduce our service costs. One of the key metrics that Diane talked about and one of the key success factors of a CX program.

“When you tie all of this together, what happens when people self-serve? We reduce our service costs, one of the key factors of a successful #CX program.” – @ijgolding #CJXM21 Click To Tweet

Dan Gingiss: And so you sort of bring all this together and you say, “All right, listen to your customer. They’re asking for self-service, then tie it back to the business. Self-services are good for us because we’ve been looking to reduce service costs. Now let’s make self-service as easy and seamless and enjoyable as possible, and we got something.”

Diane Magers: Dan, I love it that you got to live that life, because I’ve been talking a lot about the power play between customer experience and digital transformation. And I think it’s the wrong cart and the horse story, right? That’s what happens when people started to really do these digital transformations was, “Oh, we’re going to automate these things and we’re going to make this work, and here’s how it’s going to go.” When in all honesty, that was backwards. We didn’t start with the need of the customer and how they wanted that self-service experience to be, and then enable it with digital. So we’ve approached it a little backwards, because when I go into organizations and they say, “Our digital transformation is slow and it’s not working,” guess what? They’re running against all the same issues we have. People working in silos don’t have the data, and they don’t have the design thinking skills to really think through, “what’s this going to be like?” And if they move from the digital channel to care because they can’t get it done, have we even designed for that?

So I think there’s a big void in how beginning with the experience and then building digital around it needs to be the mantra of the day. Ian?

Ian Golding: And once again, unsurprisingly, I vehemently agree with both of you. Just to add to the conversation. I think whilst there’s no doubt that the motivation behind digital has been about saving money. Any organization that tells me differently is probably not telling me the truth. There is a belief that eliminating human interactions saves money. I think part of the problem is, for the last five years, at least, but probably longer than that, organizations have been thinking not customer, but they’ve been thinking product and channel. And that itself translates into the customer journey, because it’s amazing how many journeys when you look at them are mapped by channel or by products. Then I’ve increasingly found myself telling people, the customer journey is called a customer journey for a reason. Because it’s a customer journey, it’s not a channel journey or a product journey.

And ultimately, if customers are able to interact across channels and across products, if you don’t first map the omnichannel, omniproduct journey, you will draw completely the wrong conclusion as to the way customers interact with you. So I know that there is a … People don’t like the word omnichannel, you know what, whether they like it or not is irrelevant. At the end of the day we’ve got to lift ourselves up to a level where we understand how customers do interact and want to interact whatever the channel or the product might be.

Dan Gingiss: Ian, I want to add on more story here, because Diane mentioned digital transformation. And again, a big word, sometimes feels overwhelming. But it’s a process, right? Digital transformation in and of itself is a journey. And the example I want to share for you is, before you said, another one from Discover. And what I love about it is it combines what I call, we all know what voice of the customer is, VOC. I also like to refer to AOC, which is not the Congresswoman from New York, but it actually stands for actions of the customer. And sometimes we have to look at the actions of the customer because they’re not actually telling us anything, they’re telling us by doing. So, one of the things that we noticed at Discover was that the number one reason why people logged onto the website, and this is 50 million logins a month, was that they wanted to see their most recent transactions.

At the time we had three clicks standing between that log in and getting to those transactions. Why? Why are we making it so difficult if that was the reason they were coming? Well, we ended up building a live feed, like a Facebook feed on the homepage. Where, as soon as you logged in, you got your last 10 transactions right there on the screen. An amazing thing happened that would make Jeff Bezos absolutely furious, but for a credit card company this was brilliant. Almost overnight we saw tens of thousands of people log into the website, not click on anything, and log right back out. Now again, Bezos would call that a bounce rate, which is bad for e-commerce, but for a credit card site it’s about understanding that no one wants to come to their credit card website. No one is excited about that. They want to get in and get out as soon as humanly possible.

Instead of standing in their way and throwing marketing messages at them and making them click three times, we just put the information right up there in the front. And you know what happened? Almost overnight all these CX metrics, the CSAT scores went through the roof because we were giving people exactly what they wanted. And we were adapting and transforming our digital experience to what they were actually doing and needed. It’s not that hard. It’s just about paying attention to the right things and then taking action on it.

Steve Offsey: That’s a great story, Dan. It just shows the point that you can’t truly be a customer-centric company if you’re taking purely inside-out approaches where you’re more concerned with streamlining the way your internal processes work and how much they cost, rather than focusing on the customer and the goals they’re trying to accomplish. So let’s move on now to the fourth finding, major finding from the report.

4. CX and Marketing are Not Aligned

Steve Offsey: This one is an interesting one that popped out, which was that CX and marketing do not see eye to eye. The survey found out that there’s a significant disconnect between CX and marketing teams, which can of course negatively impact customer experience and business outcomes.

Let’s jump into the data and see why. The results showed that more than two thirds of marketers believe they are tightly aligned with CX teams on a customer-centric approach and goals, but less than half of the CX leaders agree with them. Marketing teams also have a rosier assessment of their level of collaboration with customer experience teams compared with their colleagues in CX. While marketers say they prioritize CX metrics and initiatives, their customer experience counterparts disagree.

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

Steve Offsey: In addition, far more marketers than CX pros said their organization is effective at analyzing cross channel customer behavior and taking action on it. It’s no surprise that top performing organizations report tighter alignment between CX and marketing than under performers. Marketing and CX teams at high-performing companies are more than twice as likely to be tightly aligned on a customer-centric approach and goals, and to regularly collaborate on CX initiatives. This level of collaboration leads to greater satisfaction with customer experience investments and outcomes. This chart summarizes just how wide the perception gap is between CX and marketing. Ian, you’ve worked extensively with The Chartered Institute of Marketing, the oldest professional marketing body in the world. Does any of this surprise you?

Ian Golding: It doesn’t surprise me. And interestingly, I’ve just spent the last two days with marketers, educating them in the science behind customer experience. And I think that the more effective articulation of this, or the more accurate articulation is not necessarily that they don’t see eye to eye, but I think it comes back to that word alignment. I think it’s a lack of alignment. And what I’m about to say is a generalization, because as we know, every organization is different. But I think there is a lack of alignment, because very often marketing teams are given customer experience as a responsibility or an objective. But they are marketers, they’re not customer experience professionals. And almost to Dan’s point, you might be doing it, but by accident, without necessarily understanding what it really means. And so I think many marketers may well believe that what they’re doing is customer focused, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re practicing customer experience.

“I think many marketers may well believe that what they're doing is customer focused, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're practicing customer experience.”  – @ijgolding #CJXM21 Click To Tweet

Ian Golding: In other words, what they’re not necessarily doing is driving activity to deliver an experience that is intentional, that is sustainable, that is going to consistently meet the needs, wants, and expectations of the customer.

Now, interestingly, the CIM, which is a UK-based association, but a very old marketing body, has always had over the last 15 years a customer experience module as part of their professional qualification for marketers. But they’ve never taught it. There’s never been any substance behind it, because there has been a lack of acknowledgement in a way that customer experience is a discipline in its own right. So I think there are many marketers. So of course they understand the theory behind it, but what they don’t necessarily appreciate is that there are a number of competencies that go beyond just the core marketing principles that they may have been educated in.

And so I think it’s that lack of knowledge, it’s not about a lack of capability, it’s a lack of knowledge. And I think purist customer experience professionals, I think those scores are down to frustration. There’s just a frustration that they don’t get it. They think they get it, but they don’t get it. They capture customer insight, but they’re capturing customer insight to develop a segmentation strategy to sell stuff to people. It’s not the same thing. So, a lot of this comes back to my real desire for education, education, education. I think there are too many that think they know it all, but they don’t. We never know it all, and I think we need to increase the level of education.

Always be learning.

Diane Magers: And a big part of it is collaboration. So learning about it, but then also like when I have marketing departments come to the CX meetings, we’re working on a project, their eyes get open to the role that they play. And so I think it’s also important that they see it as, you’re not just out there bringing things in the top of the funnel or engaging customers throughout the funnel to keep that retention up. What you’re doing is really setting the expectations for what the customer’s going to experience. That’s super critical. And so we’re not designing that appropriately, talking about the value proposition and then delivering a value proposition. It becomes extremely difficult for an organization to really rally around what are we all doing to drive that same cohesive approach to the customer? So I think the education and collaboration to me are the two things that come together as the power team of getting people to the table with the right attitudes, the right knowledge of where they are and the right skillset to think about this more holistically.

Ian Golding: Absolutely. Dan’s looking very serious. I’m just hoping I haven’t upset his core specialism as a marketer.

Dan Gingiss: Not at all. Diane, I think you are absolutely spot on. I look at marketers as playing two roles in customer experience. The first is, as you say, they’re the ones that are basically promising the experience. And if you think about what advertising and marketing looks like, it’s often, “Here’s the feeling you’ll have by doing business with us.” It’s aspirational and it goes to the experience. And so marketers have to make sure that they’re not promising something that their company can’t deliver on. So that’s really key in terms of alignment.

“Marketers have to make sure that they're not promising something that their company can't deliver on.” – @dgingiss #CX #marketing #CJXM21 Click To Tweet

Dan Gingiss: The other thing I think marketers often miss is that they are generally the first part of the experience, they’re the experience before the experience. I mean, after all, the way that we get introduced to companies is often through marketing or advertising. And so the experience has already begun. We’re not customers yet, but it’s already begun. We understand the brand voice. We know that they have a sense of humor. We think that their commercials are funny or whatever it is. The experience folks have already begun, and marketers need to understand that they are creating the beginning of the experience, and that’s really, really key.

We’ve all, just as we’ve all watched great Superbowl commercials that we love and are memorable, we’ve also, we all have examples of commercials that we turn off or switch the channel every time. There is a charity I will never donate to because they have the most annoying radio ad in the history of radio. And I’m sure they do great work as a charity and I’m not knocking their work, but there’s no way I’m doing anything with them because I can’t stand the advertising. And so it all kind of wraps up into the same thing is that marketers are really in charge of setting the stage. And I’m not sure that it’s ever been quite explained to them that way before.

Steve Offsey: Well, I think one of the things that could really help this is what we talked about earlier about organizing a company around journeys like so many of the high performers are doing. Because there’s no question, if you look at a buyer journey, marketing should be leading that, but it takes a lot of other people to collaborate around that too. But, the converse of that is true also that there are certainly other journeys, like use journeys and leave journeys, that marketing plays a big role and they may not be the lead, but they need to be collaborating on them. And if you organize the company around journeys that way, it changes the whole perspective of marketers where they think their only goal is acquisition. I think that trend could go a long way towards closing this gap.

Let’s move on now to the fifth and final finding from the report. 

5. Delivering Exceptional Omnichannel Experiences is Still an Obstacle

Steve Offsey: Our last finding shows that analyzing and orchestrating consistent omnichannel experiences is still a major challenge for many organizations today.

Disparate and siloed data continues to be the primary barrier as 65% of organizations say that cross channel data is not accessible or is not unified into a single customer view. On the other hand, it’s not a surprise that high-performers are more than 11 times as likely to integrate customer journey data into a comprehensive unified view. As a result, high performers are far more likely to be able to connect customer behavior in any specific channel across three or more other channels. The difference is largest for voice of the customer and customer feedback management data, which came out as being the most siloed.

CX teams struggle with customer data silos

Steve Offsey: Customer-centric organizations are increasingly viewing customer journey orchestration as the best approach for providing consistent and personalized experiences. As you might imagine, high-performers are three times more likely to use this approach than under-performers. As a result they are six times more likely to be effective at engaging customers across channels and over time. Diane, what do you think are some of the obstacles preventing many organizations from analyzing and delivering consistent omnichannel experiences?

Diane Magers: I always talk about this like a puzzle. When we look at the profession that we have, we have all these different pieces of information. And the ability for us to bring not only the silos of people together, but that data together to get a holistic view of knowing how to think single unified, it all relies on that data approach. So I think that’s probably the first one of really trying to get that puzzle piece to get your picture together. 

The other obstacle is that we still struggle with the organization coming to the table. If we’re truly going to get omnichannel, there needs to be a lot of people in the room talking about the same thing, the same goal. And I think that we have all these disparate goals in an organization that really conflict with each other. So I’m finding incentives and the goals that the teams have just don’t let us align. So that’s standing in the way. So it’s important to pay attention to that.

“If we're truly going to get #omnichannel, there needs to be a lot of people in the room talking about the same thing, the same goal.” – @DianeMagers #CJXM21 #CX Click To Tweet

Diane Magers: And then the third one I’ll talk about is, we’re going to beat this a little bit to death, but it’s really the skill set of understanding. If you are able to achieve this omnichannel, truly an omnichannel where customers can go between different channels and you’ve optimized each of those to know where they are, you’ve guided them, you understand where they are and you’re showing that to them, that becomes part of the, then getting over that hump and we just don’t have the right way to see or view or manage an omnichannel experience without those things, so. Dan, I see you nodding?

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I do want to hear from Ian, because I know that omnichannel is one of his favorite words, but what I’ll say here is, omnichannel does not necessarily mean every channel in the universe, right? You still just have to be where your customers are. And an example here, when I worked for Humana and we were focused on Medicare products, the audience were seniors. It didn’t matter that we weren’t on Snapchat because it’s not where seniors are, right? And so you got to be in the channels that your customers are. And again, you go back to sort of the examples we gave before and think about how you do business. You go shopping, you start on your mobile app and you end up on your laptop, that’s omnichannel. Or you walk into a store, that’s omnichannel. It’s not, it doesn’t mean that you used 15 different channels. It just means that you used more than one in your buyer journey and or in your servicing journey, for example.

And I think the word omnichannel is, as I’m sure Ian is going to attest, has really gotten to be not only a buzzword, but one that scares organizations. Because they don’t know what it means. They think it’s too big and too expensive and whatever, it really isn’t. I think we can all help companies by sort of calming them down a little bit and saying, “Look, this is just about the fact that when we do business with companies, we often use more than one channel.” Maybe it’s only two, but it means a consistent experience through those two.

One last example I’ll give you, because as I’ve mentioned, I spent a lot of time in social media, is that when social media first came onto the scene, companies incorrectly gave more power to their social media customer service agents than to their phone agents. And so what happened was, customers quickly learned, “Oh, I don’t like the answer that the phone person gave me. I’m just going to go to Twitter because they’re going to give me a better answer.” That is not a good omnichannel experience, right? We want our agents trained the same way across channels, because we shouldn’t care which channel someone wants to communicate with us in. We should be there for them and have the same answer. Ian?

Ian Golding: Fascinating to hear both Diane and you, Dan, talk about it. I completely agree about that omnichannel word as I’ve already said. But I think fundamentally this comes back to the age-old issue of lack of cross-functional collaboration. Unfortunately this is more about organizational design and operating models than it is anything to do with customer experience really. Organizations historically have structured themselves to work independently of each other. The problem is that if you want to deliver an intentional customer experience, you can only do that if you’re working together, because the experience is delivered by everyone in the organization, not just one function.

And so, this is an age-old problem because we’ve been working in silos for decades and no one yet has found a good way of being able to eliminate that, because everyone’s so comfortable, just focusing on their own little bits of the puzzle, as Diane said. So I think one of the things we need to increasingly articulate is the importance of everyone understanding the role they play in delivering the customer experience, because that I think is still misunderstood. Customer experience is not the role of the customer experience team, it’s not the role of marketing, it’s the role of everyone. And the analogy that I use is that customer experience is like a chain of events. Every single person in the organization is a link in a metaphorical chain, connecting customers to your products and services.

The problem with that is that you only need one link in that chain not to understand the role they play and the chain breaks. Now some tell me that their organization is more complicated than that, and it’s like a spider’s web, but the principle is still the same. Break a strand of the spider’s webinar and it all falls apart. So again, this comes back to the importance of recognizing that we’ve built businesses based on process, what we do. We now need to redefine our businesses based on the journey, what the customer experiences, and then realign what we do to be able to better deliver the journey that the customer is having.

“We now need to redefine our businesses based on the #journey, what the #customer experiences, and then realign what we do to be able to better deliver the journey that the customer is having.” – @ijgolding #CJXM21 #CX Click To Tweet

Dan Gingiss: You know, Ian, just to be blunt, customers don’t care about companies’ org charts, right? Employees care. They say, “Well, I’m in this department and that’s my responsibility. And this thing is in a different department, someone else’s.” But your customers don’t care. They look at you as one company. They don’t care that there’s a whole bunch of different departments or that you siloed, that’s not their problem. And I think that the issue is silos, I think we all agree. We don’t, we prefer the companies not to be siloed, but ultimately, at the end of the day, if you want to be siloed, be siloed, you just can’t let the customer see it. And as long as the customer sees you as a single organization and their experience is fluid and consistent, then you’re going to be okay.

Ian Golding: Absolutely.

Steve Offsey: I think you all brought it right back to where we started, that the customer journey is king and companies who organize around the customer journey, measure the customer journey, and engage with customers in the context of their journeys are the ones that are going to win today and in the future. The data shows that and everything we’ve talked about today connects the dots right back to the point that we started with.