Businesses responded to the customer experience (CX) demands that arose in the pandemic — but the biggest changes are still ahead.
From deploying automation in the customer service center to boosting the employee experience for CX gains, businesses understand technology should support their customer touchpoints.
Nearly half of executives say CX is a main strategic priority, ahead of compliance and overall IT strategy, according to Rackspace data. Executives also started the year with CX atop their technology spend priorities, according to 37% of leaders in a West Monroe survey released in January.
In the coming five years, consumers will expect the businesses they interact with to deliver a cohesive experience across all touchpoints, and organizations will shape that experience through a host of supporting technologies under CIO leadership.
Customers will expect, or even demand, a more tech-enabled experience that is:
And carries customer information across different platforms.
"I really think it has to do with a holistic experience as a customer," said Dave Lehman, president and COO at Birdeye, when asked about the next stage of CX. Going forward, customers will expect brands to have data on them across any customer-facing platform.
Though companies have been trying to create that type of experience, the challenge is to have it happen in a seamless way, said Lehman.
There's certainly room to grow in terms of optimizing CX across all types of companies. Eight in 10 B2B organizations and 65% of B2C companies are at the early stages of CX maturity, according to Gartner data.
A total experience
Many factors comprise what Gartner calls the total experience, a union of customer, user, employee and multi-experience. It's a trend impacting how companies will approach CX in the near future and has a direct impact on tech leadership.
"The CIO would likely be involved in the technologies that underpin all four of those areas," said Don Scheibenreif, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner. The set of technologies include mobile development application platforms, human resource management systems, customer relationship management systems or the platforms UX designers use to connect with customers.
"Our message to CIO is: this is where you can kind of raise the game so to speak, in terms of overall experience, by supporting that type of connection point" across experience, said Scheibenreif.
Gary York, CEO of Help Lightning, said the next five years will bring more "Uber-ization" of customer expectations. Technologies such as AI and VR can play a role in delivering more complex experiences.
"We're seeing increasing interest in bringing intelligence to the customer service process," said York. "Especially the self service process, so that customers can get the right expertise but do it on demand, when they need it."
CIOs are tasked with leading their companies to a place "where you have the right technology and the right connections to all of your key data that it feels natural to the end customer through the whole lifecycle," said Lehman.
But more technology atop existing services isn't, on its own, the response to changes coming to CX demands.
"It's important to remember that technology is a means to deliver more value to your customers," said York. "It's not about more technology, it's about the right technology that delivers value."
CX changes will also need updates to management styles, according to Scheibenreif. While technologies must support a company's ability to operate with the same information throughout the different touchpoints, human-centric design is at the forefront of companies ability to provide a total experience.
"It is a mindset shift," said Scheibenreif.