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I read an interesting study recently in MarketingWeek.com. It found that while marketers believe in the importance of the customer experience, within 2-3 years, that importance will decline due to business growth, transformation, and disruptive technologies.
According to the study, 83% of businesses reported that the customer experience was important. But just 49% of those same respondents felt that they were, in fact, delivering the right customer experience. These businesses have shifted (or plan to move) their focus AWAY from customer experience; instead, placing a higher priority on brand management, business transformation, and leading disruptive innovation.
The ironic part is that all of those priority shifts are subsets of customer experience. Think about it. How do you improve your customer experience? You put a plan in place to change your business and enhance the customer experience by using leading technological innovation!
Customers are all about convenience. That is precisely how some companies have come to dominate retail. But how did they accomplish that? By doing exactly what these CMOs are predicting their focus will shift to.
The goal of improving customer experience includes a business transformation. You cannot keep doing what you always have done and expect consumers to respond more favorably. This means adopting new (and potentially disruptive) technology to achieve that. The amusing part is that the technology is only "disruptive" until mass adoption occurs.
The automotive industry has undergone this change countless times in the past. There was a time when dealers didn’t think that they needed websites. That changed. Then dealerships didn’t want leads. That also changed. I could go on. But the fact is that all of these changes – websites, leads, etc. -- were due to consumer demand. To accommodate that demand, dealerships needed to change. And that's what they did.
In my opinion, the CMOS of the companies covered in this study are absolutely on target when it comes to what they should be focused on for the next 2-3 years. What I would argue is that while the research reports they are shifting away from a customer experience focus, the items they are focused on do in fact lead to a better customer experience. This, in turn, makes it easier for consumers to spend their money with that business.
Don’t lose focus on the ultimate goal of improving your customer experience. While these shifts may, on the surface, seem like a shift AWAY from that end goal; ultimately, they are simply cogs in the wheel that will make things more efficiently and improve that experience.
Yes, focusing on the pieces that are needed to complete a puzzle is essential. You should never take your eyes off the end goal of a completed puzzle. That is the only outcome which makes sense and will increase business.