The State of CX in 2021 – Why Technology and Strategy Reign Supreme

By Jay Rumwell, VP and Group Partner Executive at Capgemini

No matter how much the world changes, the importance of serving your customers well will always be a top business priority. Yet how you achieve that goal must continually evolve. Customer habits are always changing, as do the realities of how companies do business. Brands must work to stay on top of the specific skills and tools required to provide customers with the kind of experiences that will keep them coming back.

Businesses started 2021 having faced a year like no other. Even so, for many companies a lot of the challenges they’ve grappled with through the pandemic are exaggerated versions of issues they were already dealing with.

Retailers were already facing pressure to add robust ecommerce options to business models that formerly focused on in-person experiences. And the importance of providing online options for customer interactions throughout the buyer’s journey is something B2B and B2C companies alike have been grappling with for years. Those existing needs simply grew more urgent and crucial as interactions moved primarily online.

 

In addition, many companies already struggled to provide a consistent customer experience (CX) across an array of online platforms and technologies. As more of the workforce shifted to remote work, that familiar struggle intensified as well.

The solutions to these issues are largely the same as they were before the pandemic, but the priority level of tackling them is higher than ever. Forrester Consulting was commissioned by Capgemini, Salesforce and MuleSoft to conduct a global survey consisting of 426 directors and above in marketing, IT and LOB roles with responsibility for technology purchase decisions. The research highlighted some of the central needs of modern CX.

Effective use of technology is central to modern CX

A natural consequence of the shift to more online interactions is that technology needs to play a more central role in the relationship businesses have with customers. Implementing and optimizing the right technology has become increasingly complex, however. Customers now expect to have access to businesses through a wide array of channels — from social media, to live chat, to messaging apps, to the more traditional phone and email options. Making sure business representatives can provide consistent experiences across all these channels requires a complex and well-integrated technological solution.

Sixty-eight percent of companies in the study said they’d already implemented or begun expanding their CRM (customer relationship management) or CX technology, suggesting they recognize the important role technology plays in providing the kinds of immersive, personalized, and engaging experiences customers now expect. A willingness to invest in CX technology is only one part of the equation though. They also need to address the main challenges to using it well.

Balancing multiple tech tools means businesses must prioritize integration

To provide the complex, omnichannel support expected today, most businesses need to add multiple CX tools to their stacks. When a new type of technology is added to solve a particular problem, it can create a new problem: one of integration. Sixty-two percent of companies say they’re operating in hybrid environments, but 52% say they’re only minimally, somewhat, or not at all integrated.

When different types of CX technology fail to work together, it causes problems for both the business and the customer. When a customer has a problem that requires multiple interactions with the business to solve, the last thing they want is to have to repeat themselves every time. For any business where CX tools are disconnected though, support agents will lack access to up-to-date data when trying to help customers. In addition, if customer-facing representatives have to open multiple products to find important information, it makes their jobs harder and the work less efficient.

Gaining a single view of the customer is crucial

Half of the respondents named improving the management of customer data their top CX priority for the next twelve months. “Most companies strive to be customer-centric, but the reality is that many aren’t operationalized as such,” said Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. “The race is now on to upgrade for a post-pandemic economy. A 360-degree view of the customer that brings all customer data into one place, while allowing cross-functional collaboration around insights in real-time, is the next competitive advantage.”

To start, customer-facing employees can easily access the information they need to provide more effective customer support. In addition, providing more personalized customer experiences finally becomes possible. And just as importantly, the business will gain the ability to see trends and insights in data that lead to better business decisions.

Eighty-four percent of companies recognized that having a platform with a 360-degree view of the customer and their data provides indispensable or significant value. Fifty percent recognized that it leads to improved service ticket resolutions, 45% said it helps the company align across internal departments, and 44% are confident a better view of the data will lead to improved CX strategy.

The right tech must be matched with the right strategy

Technology may play a key role, but having the right products doesn’t matter unless a business uses them effectively. Forty percent of companies are internally challenged by having only implemented their CRM or CX technology for one department or use case, ensuring its value is limited. Just as concerning, 34% experience low adoption rates across teams. No technology investment can help you achieve your goals if employees don’t use it.

According to Dan McAllister, Global SVP of Alliances and Channels at MuleSoft, “without a strong strategy and the right support, companies face difficulty achieving integration and siloed CRM use, resulting in low adoption rates. For investments in improved CX to actually pay off, working with the IT department and an experienced services partner early on to develop a roadmap that includes plans for onboarding and integration can make a big difference.”

With the right strategy, businesses can ensure CX tools work seamlessly together, employees use the products invested in, and the business gains the single view of the customer that leads to better all-around CX. To meet the expectations of today’s customers, nothing less will do.

Jay Rumwell is Vice President and Group Partner Executive at Capgemini. He is passionate about driving dramatic revenue gains and securing competitive advantage through effective partner recruitment, management, and marketing initiatives—working at the CxO-level with global SIs, OEMs, ISVs, and other enterprise technology providers. Jay has extensive experience in all aspects of enterprise technology alliances strategy and execution within both vendor and service organizations.

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