IDC recently hosted a senior executive dinner in London to discuss the latest trends in enterprise investments in customer experience (CX). By marrying up in-person executive responses with IDC survey data we can reveal some surprisingly rich CX market insights. Read on.
The truth about ‘the customer data truth’
Fundamental to delivering superior customer experiences is a single version of the ‘customer data truth’ that can drive ‘next best actions’ for front-line customer-facing staff. When we asked marketing leaders this question, they were very gung-ho, with 97% rating their ‘single customer data view’ as ‘middling’ to ‘complete’ in a recent European survey.
Executive leaders were less optimistic. No-one at our executive dinner had a complete view of the customer that included all online and offline data – leaving vital gaps both in knowledge of customers’ behaviors and their complete customer journey. Most agreed with IDC’s research survey findings that many enterprises struggle with (in order of priority) data integration and master data management, customer data management, the provision of different views for different operational departments, incorporating real-time customer data feeds, and gaining access to siloed departmental data.
Introducing AI for customer-facing use cases
IDC research shows that the most important use case for customer-facing AI is the automation of customer service agents. This is a big adoption trend across all industries in Europe. 22% of companies are already using chatbots in customer service applications, 11% are using AI for sales automation, and 9% are using AI for online commerce applications, such as fraud detection and credit risk scoring. In almost all cases, efficiency and cost reduction are the key drivers for AI investments. Only 1 in 5 enterprises in Europe is not considering customer-facing AI.
Again, our dinner executives were less enthused than our survey respondents. It was easier for our executives to build business cases and secure funding for more established technologies providing guaranteed ROI, such as digital and analytics, than to justify spend in the uncharted waters of AI. It was felt that the vendors were not being unduly helpful here. Greater availability of use cases, benchmarking data, and quantified cost savings would help justify greater investments in AI.
Investments in customer journeys, channels and apps
Virtually all large enterprises are mapping customer journeys with their associated channels to technology investments. However, customer journey management is not without its challenges. IDC surveys shows European organisations have problems ‘turning customer journey maps into business processes and systems’ and ‘overcoming departmental boundaries or internal product siloes’.
Enterprises are pulling back from investments in all customer journeys and omni-channels as this is proving costly and complex to manage. They want to focus resources on the ‘golden journeys’ and the ‘golden channels’ that deliver most customer value. This was the experience of our dinner executives who struggle with synchronising channels, especially online and offline channels, and implementing customer journeys that cut across different departments and operating units.
Our executives felt there
were 3 levels of technology investments that offer escalating closeness to the
customer: (i) the mobile app (ii) the web site (iii) the enterprise application
stack. In terms of customer engagement, a mobile app is best but may not be ‘sticky’
enough to create repeat visits. Travel, personal banking, and social apps are
by nature ‘sticky’; others, like insurance services are not. In the latter
case, CX investments in the web site or enterprise apps might be more appropriate.