Customer engagement is one of the most highly valued business functions for the C-suite and has firmly established itself as a board level issue, according to the latest research from Aspect Software. However, there is a recognition that no system is perfect, with several steps needed to be taken in order to improve the customer contact centre and subsequently bolster the overall customer experience.
The study from Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Aspect, surveyed 100 CxO professionals from organisations either based in the UK or with a UK operation, employing over 1,000 people. The research found that the C-suite views customer engagement as more important than increasing profit (75%), customer retention (72%), new customer on-boarding (71%) and business growth (66%). Further, while many other subjects fail to become a Board level issue, customer engagement has established itself as an important discussion topic. Customer engagement strategies are discussed at Board level in most of the respondents’ organisations, with it being a topic at Board meetings at least once a month for 60% of those surveyed.
However, while many see it as a great business tool that is giving them a competitive advantage, as cited by 83% of CxO professionals, only 32% of respondents agree with the statement that their customer service is “great” and that their customers are “very happy”, whereas 65% see areas for improvement within their current system.
The results also reveal that there is a wide disparity in thought regarding who is responsible for the implementation, development, and P&L statement for this area. The Chief Marketing Officer was seen as the most likely to be in charge of both the strategy, and the budget— being selected by 47% of respondents. This position was closely followed by the Chief Operating Officer (46%), then the Chief Executive Officer (42%) and Chief Information Officer (41%).
Steve Ball, Senior VP Europe & Africa at Aspect Software, commented: “The results reveal that the C-suite places a high importance on customer engagement, with a solid understanding of the benefits that an effective strategy supported by the right technology can bring. This is a positive and significant revelation as customer engagement is facing a number of consumer and market-driven pressures to fit a new mould.
“However, a large portion of respondents recognise that their customer engagement operations do have room for improvement. Customer service is the ultimate competitive differentiator (particularly if the market is price inelastic, such as energy), and they are still aware of the flaws that the system holds if it is not optimised. Adding further complexity is the fact that there is confusion as to who is ultimately responsible for the strategy, and in any customer-driven enterprise I’d question why that is,” he said.
Ball said that the confusion over responsibility could indicate that the issue is not commonly being discussed in enough depth in the Boardroom, and that customer engagement may lack a champion. He said: “There needs to be a strong link demonstrated between the contact centre and the rest of the organisation. The Board wants to see ROI; data from the contact centre will increasingly be critical for decision making and should be regularly presented and discussed.
“We are in the right time and the right place to be boosting customer engagement’s position on the Boardroom agenda from a high level footnote to the top; as enterprises become increasingly customer-driven, we’re going to be seeing this more,” concluded Ball.