Is Your Brand A High-Maturity CX Champion?

The 2021 State of CX Maturity Report surveyed more than 3,000 CX decision makers to understand the characteristics and benefits of CX leadership.

Improving customer experience matters. According to recent research by Zendesk, in partnership with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), companies that have continued to invest in their customer experience (CX) over the past year are 10 times more likely to have maximised their resiliency during the pandemic, and three times more likely to have grown their customer base year over year.

“The findings indicate that the shift to digital and remote work during the pandemic served as a trigger for companies to accelerate their adoption of new technologies, policies and processes to benefit from a higher CX Maturity,” added Adam DeMattia, Director of Custom Research at ESG.

The 2021 State of CX Maturity report surveyed more than 3,000 CX decision makers to understand the characteristics and benefits of CX leadership. Nearly all respondents surveyed agreed that without continuous CX innovation, their business will lose customers to more customer-centric competitors.

ESG built a CX maturity scale to identify common patterns and behaviours that separate high-maturity CX organisations – what ESG calls the “Champions” — from three levels of less-mature ones: “Starters”, “Emerging”, and “Risers”. The report outlines what businesses need to do to move up the maturity scale.

While organisations are clearly maturing their CX capabilities, every organisation must evaluate if it is transforming its customer service teams fast enough to keep pace with customer expectations. For those organisations stuck in either the Starter or Emerging segment of the market, this data is a clear warning that CX stagnation will lead to customer loss and competitive displacement.

Service, when done right, lets customers know they are heard and valued. A conversational experience conveys empathy, builds rapport, and helps the service team have a productive interaction with the customer. Organisations recognise this and have made transitioning away from traditional transactional experiences a key goal for their teams.

However, while 88 per cent of all respondents agree they have this goal, those at Champions are much more likely than Starters to strongly agree (85 per cent vs. 19 per cent). In short, Champions are 4.5x more likely to prioritise delivering conversational customer experiences.

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Nearly all Champions (97 per cent) agree that pivoting to a more conversational experience with customers is a key goal for their teams – signalling the shift away from transactional service focused purely on resolving tickets. Moreover, Champions are three times more likely to prioritise delivering conversational CX that can build deeper customer relationships.

Many anticipate that preferences and changes will continue to shift as well: 63 per cent of organisations predict that chat and social channels will be most used by customers in the future, up from 50 per cent who say this is the case today.

To deliver the best CX, agents need to be informed about the brand-customer relationship. This information helps an agent do their job better, and Champions are far better at delivering it. In fact, 90 per cent of Champions report their organisation provides customer profiles, combining interactions in any channel with CRM and database records, which can be viewed as a “single source of truth.”

There also continues to be a clear correlation between improved CX maturity and the benefits of increased customer satisfaction (CSAT), faster response times, and effective customer service. Notably, the study also calls out the connection between CX maturity and greater business growth and revenue.

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Investment in CX leads to better agent retention

  • Agent turnover, training, flexibility and wellbeing all emerged as areas of investment and focus for teams over the course of the past 18 months. This led Champions, in particular, to move quickly to implement tools to support overwhelmed service teams.
  • More than a quarter of organisations (35 per cent) say staffing turnover continues to be a challenge, up from 29 per cent in 2020.
  • Organisations expect an 8 per cent increase in the number of remote agents, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer an issue.
  • Investments and process changes made by Champions in the early stages of the pandemic include increased mobile device use by agents (46 per cent); increased utilisation of public cloud services (62 per cent); more flexible work policies (56 per cent); adoption of new collaboration tools (56 per cent); and expanded mental health/wellbeing initiatives (54 per cent).

“This research confirms what our customers across industries, sizes and life cycles all tell us: that customer experience requires continuous investment and innovation to truly set their business apart,” said Jeff Titterton, Chief Operating Officer, Zendesk. “The way the customer service function is viewed is changing – it’s the hub of your customer relationships in this digital-first economy. Having the tools for proactive service, information sharing, and cross-selling are now just as important as issue resolution. These are the skills that will shift your call centre from being a cost centre to a revenue driver.”