C-suite facing challenges in fulfilling customer engagement strategies

CxO professionals are being held back from successfully fulfilling their customer engagement strategies, despite viewing customer service as a definitive competitive differentiator. This is according to new research from Aspect Software, who suggests that the C-suite must work hard to communicate to the Board the importance of customer service in an organisation.

The study from Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Aspect, surveyed 100 UK based CxO professionals from enterprise organisations employing over 1,000 people to determine the C-suite’s attitudes towards customer engagement and to ascertain where the C-suite felt responsibility for both the centre and customer engagement strategy lies. It revealed that while 83% of respondents believe that customer engagement gives them a competitive edge, there are key barriers to greater adoption, not least integration with existing technology.

Some 59% of respondents stated that they were concerned about finding a customer engagement solution that worked with existing company infrastructure and solutions; 45% expressed concerns about the existing technology infrastructure being able to cope with new systems; and 30% of respondents were concerned with legacy IT systems. Unsurprisingly, trepidation over legacy systems grows with the size of the company, with 44% of those in large organisations (5,001+ employees) stating their concerns.

Stephen Ball, Senior VP Europe & Africa at Aspect Software, suggests that if these challenges are not overcome, organisations will struggle to elevate their contact centres to fully engineered next generation customer engagement centres that are able to provide customer service and support, regardless of the interaction channel.

He explained: “Customer service is the definitive competitive differentiator and this has largely been recognised by the CxO professionals in our research. However, what’s also evident is that there are technology barriers preventing these organisations from effectively executing their customer engagement strategies. This is a justified assertion as even the most sophisticated contact centres can still be grounded in outdated architecture. Unfortunately, this rigid and dated technology can limit the ability for many businesses to respond effectively to customer queries in an acceptable manner and timeframe.

Exacerbating this challenge further is a difficulty for the C-suite to justify investment for the latest technology developments. Smaller organisations (1,000 – 3,000 employees) struggled with finding appropriate and adequate finances to invest in new customer engagement solutions (71%), especially when compared to larger organisations who saw this as a concern (3,001-5,000 employees: 46%, and 5,001+ employees: 52%).

Additionally, 47% of respondents found the pressure to show Return on Investment (ROI) to the Board as a key barrier to adoption, demonstrating that the Board does not always echo the C-suite’s faith in the importance of customer engagement.

Ball added: “Today’s consumers are far too connected, intelligent and demanding to be satisfied by an insufficient customer service operation. While it is often expensive to either remove these legacy structures – or to retrofit them to accommodate the newer systems – the operational benefits of newer technology, particularly cloud in the contact centre, include lower up-front costs, streamlined maintenance and upgrades and support for integrations between CRM, self-service and contact centres, which drives personalised interactions.

“As such, the C-suite needs to be more visible and proactive than ever, because if they aren’t evangelising to the Board about the importance of the role of customer service in a business and the ROI this will deliver, who will?” Ball concluded.

For further information on the C-suite’s perception of customer engagement, view the infographic here.