Connected customers expect a hyper-personalised, effortless experience but organisations are slow to respond

NTT Ltd., a world-leading global technology services provider revealed the findings of its annual Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report titled “The Connected Customer: Delivering an effortless experience. According to the research, only 5% of organisations in Europe are delivering a fully functioning experience, yet more than half (51%) consider CX to be a primary differentiator.

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Organisations struggle to align their CX strategies to voice of customer (VoC) feedback, with 59% having no formal process for considering this data and 14% which capture no feedback at all. Only 16% fully define, and track the value contribution of CX and less than a third (32%) are able to connect data relationships between channels – leaving the rest operating ‘blind’ with no full view of the customer ecosystem. That said, the collection of VoC feedback by organisations is improving year on year – there has been a 45% improvement globally since 2019 in those capturing some form of feedback and 7% now perceive their VoC programme to be at an advanced level across all channels.

“Customer expectations are higher than ever – businesses cannot afford to fail in CX,” said Rob Allman; Senior Vice President, Customer Experience at NTT Ltd. “However, most companies are missing valuable insights that are integral to better connect with and stay relevant to customers across every touchpoint. By listening to the voice of the customer, integrating data across systems, in addition to adopting emerging technologies like AI and RPA, companies have the unique opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.”

Listening starts with strategy

A successful CX strategy is proven to improve customer and brand engagement, and drive commercial performance, yet many organisations are still stuck in the developmental stage due to siloed technology systems, inconsistencies in experience, and a lack of clear processes. Specifically, challenges include:

  • Faltering technology systems: Nearly one in three (29%) say their technology systems are failing to meet current needs and many teams still struggle with legacy systems (40%) and the integration of multiple technology systems (44%). Additionally, the inability to secure budgets (44%) remains a concern and skills shortages is seen as a growing concern (28%).
  • Siloed channels and internal business organisations: Almost two thirds (65%) of organisations agree there is only partial collaboration between functions when it comes to designing CX, and 14% don’t collaborate at all. Nearly two thirds (64%) still have no cross-channel contact management strategy and less than a quarter (21%) claim to have good or complete consistency across contact channels.
  • Inconsistent priorities: Personalisation capabilities have surged from 55% to 83% in one year, but just 17% of organisations place “customer delight” as the top driving force behind their customer journey design strategy. This may account for why over a quarter (28%) of assisted-services enquires fail to be resolved during first contact, while automated channels fare worse with a 38% fail rate.

Creating a smarter CX with data analytics

While almost three quarters (73%) of organisations indicate that they are satisfied with their customer satisfaction capability, only 10% of their customers rate customer experience at ‘advocacy’ level. Worryingly, just 2% of AI and robotics users say customers rate their experience at advocacy level, exposing the gap between emerging technologies and satisfaction levels.

This demonstrates that businesses need to create a smart strategy which bases AI on optimum data, organisations must learn to fill the gap between data management and integration, and prioritise an efficient data management platform. As it stands, less than half (41%) of data capture needs are defined and aligned to desired business outcomes, and just 26% have a dedicated team managing the company’s entire data lake. In fact, 18% have no data management strategy at all. Because of this, data is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. More than half (54%) of all teams are evaluating and learning how to use available data and over a third (34%) do not have the required data management skills or resources to do so.

An increasing number of organisations are moving towards the use of smart data to inform CX decisions but are often overwhelmed by this transformation. Half of businesses confirmed data analytics and data management will be one of the top three tech initiatives prioritised by the CX team. Analytics (54%) is expected to be the top factor in reshaping the CX industry within the next five years. This is closely followed by artificial intelligence (49%), technology integration (43%), and service personalisation (44%).

Overcoming business organisational structure challenges

Many organisations believe AI and automation is the future for creating operational efficiency, hyper personalisation and providing an effortless customer experience. Rules-based robotic solutions “are the preferred option both now and in the short term with AI being the top five year priority.”

The vast majority (78%) of organisations also believe customer operations will be positively impacted by AI and CX robotics in the future, followed by business insight and customer intelligence (53%) and workplace management/operational productivity (51%). However, the implementation of AI remains difficult. Looking forward, businesses must find a solution for the current lack of skills across the business, which is currently considered a challenge for more than half (57%) of organisations today.

“Businesses must look at how technologies such as AI and RPA can work as part of their organisational team structures,” said Allman. “But to do this successfully, AI needs to work with the voice of the customer data which is collected by advanced social listening tools. This data must also be compiled from across the business’s value chain in order to help AI realise its potential. Therefore, design thinking and an ecosystem focused approach is imperative.”

Jason Hemingway, CMO, Thunderhead: “The survey from NTT reinforces that while brands pay lip service to the importance of customer experience and engagement, most are struggling to deliver the level of experience that customers expect. While NTT rightly talks about the need to listen to the voice of the customer and integrate data across systems, there is a critical component brands need to add. They need to make the transition to the new era of engagement-led marketing, based on nurturing relationships with customers, understanding customer intent and focusing on lifetime customer value. By harnessing the opportunity that real-time journey analysis and orchestration provides in understanding true customer intent, brands will be well equipped to utilise that insight to drive engagement at scale, increase customer satisfaction, and drive business growth.”

Sean Durkin, Head of Enterprise, UK & Ireland, OpenText: “Despite customer expectations being at an all-time high, this report is the latest in a long line of evidence suggesting that many businesses are still missing the mark when it comes to customer experience. In today’s world, regardless of a business’s size, products, service or industry, customer experience often determines success. Whether it’s using biometrics to unlock a mobile phone or asking Alexa to remember a shopping list, today’s digital generation are used to streamlined, instant services. For businesses in any sector, meeting these expectations is key to forging a loyal relationship. The secret to creating a special customer journey, and adding real value, lies in analysing data to better understand behaviours and preferences, which can help to create more personalised and impactful experiences. This report should act as yet another call to action; brands need to recognise that consumers have a preference for fast and flexible services and that modern technologies – such as artificial intelligence – could provide a way to meet these expectations.”

Suman Nambiar, Head of Strategy, Partners and Offering for Digital at Mindtree “The NTT Data research findings are not surprising and it correlates with our own research conducted on the value of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within global enterprises. Our findings tell us while some large enterprises are gaining a lot of value from AI (31%), a lot more can be done to coach the workforce on how to get their data infrastructure in shape so the business can deploy AI at scale. The training and development required for businesses to thrive in the digital age is critical. NTT’s research also highlighted a skills gap which is hindering the delivery of world-class customer experiences. What we see is that businesses are coming up with creative approaches to acquire and develop these skills, as our findings say retraining current staff (47%) is the most popular option. Delivering what the customer wants is an immutable law in business and the potential for automation and AI to transform the customer experience is immense, but defining business outcomes and providing the training required are critical first steps.”

About NTT Ltd.:

NTT Ltd. is a leading global technology services company. We partner with organizations around the world to shape and achieve outcomes through intelligent technology solutions. For us, intelligent means data driven, connected, digital and secure. As a global ICT provider, we employ more than 40,000 people in a diverse and dynamic workplace that spans 57 countries, trading in 73 countries and delivering services in over 200 countries and regions. Together we enable the connected future.

Visit us at hello.global.ntt