8 key ingredients for good customer experience revealed

Epsilon and research firm Econsultancy have released findings into a joint research project looking at the maturity levels of customer experience (CX) in Asia.

The study surveyed 350 client-side marketers and their suppliers and found that the majority of both rated their companies as being 'not very advanced' in their approach to customer experience.

While marketers felt the complexity of customer experience was the biggest barrier to offering a better CX service, agencies said a lack of overall strategy and vision was to blame.

Jefrey Gomez, managing director, Asia Pacific at Econsultancy, said the complexities of delivering a relevant and consistent customer experience across all channels and touchpoints are significant, but forward-looking organisations are making strides by focusing on technology, data and ownership.

Michael Kustreba, managing director of Epsilon Asia Pacific, added there are tremendous opportunities for brands to achieve greater CX maturity.

"Now is the time to address these shortcomings because consumers are expecting more from brands. The good news is that there are valuable insights from data, technology and proven methodologies that organizations can adopt to help them improve their customer experience delivery."

So where to start? Here are eight key takeaways from the study:

1. CX will continue to be key differentiator over the next five years
More than three in five (63%) client-side respondents indicated that the primary ways they will differentiate themselves from competitors over the next five years will be through providing better customer service, cultivating the digital customer experience or enhancing the digital customer experience, among others. Most of the remaining (33%) client-side respondents stated they will use product-related initiatives to differentiate themselves.

2. Customer experience is more advanced when it is the responsibility of the entire organization
Survey data showed that all respondents felt the responsibility for customer experience sits across a mix of different departments. 20% of client-side respondents believed it was the responsibility of the whole organization, versus 9% of supply-side respondents. When responses were segmented by level of self-declared CX maturity, the effect of different approaches becomes clearer. In half of the 'advanced' companies, responsibility for customer experience is either shared across the organization (34%) or resides in a dedicated customer experience team (16%). For companies rating themselves as 'not very advanced' or 'immature,' responsibility for customer experience is far more likely to lie within a mixture of different departments (40% versus 18%) or the marketing department (18% versus 5%).

3. Responsibility for CX is allocated, but budget is often not
Marketers reported that only 7% of companies in the region have a single, dedicated budget for understanding the customer journey, while an additional 27% have a dedicated budget split across different departments. While most companies assign responsibility for customer experience, they are far less likely to allocate budget specifically for understanding the customer journey.

4. Understanding the customer journey is about driving business and helping customers
Survey respondents indicated that three of the major benefits of understanding the customer journey are business-related: increasing customer lifetime value/loyalty, driving revenue and profitability and improving relevance and effectiveness of marketing communications were all rated as major benefits of understanding the customer journey by both client-side and supply-side marketers.

5. New channels and innovations are relatively unimportant to marketers
The study found that organizations are less enthusiastic about improving customer experience through creative innovations and new channels, with 27% of client-side respondents considering experimentation with channel-specific creative 'not important' for delivering a great customer experience.

6. 'Advanced' companies are more likely to make improvements using insights
20% of marketers surveyed rate their companies' ability to make improvements and changes based on insights as 'poor' or 'very poor.' 'Advanced' organizations are nearly five times more likely to rate themselves as 'excellent' or 'good' versus the rest.

7. Both qualitative and quantitative insights are used to inform understanding of the customer journey
According to client-side respondents, quantitative data is the most important tool for insight on the customer journey, followed by web analytics and CRM data. Organizations who rated themselves as 'advanced' in terms of CX maturity are more likely to use user experience (UX) analysis techniques like touchpoint mapping, UX audits and heatmaps in addition to more traditional quantitative and qualitative insights.

8. Return on investment is being measured in traditional ways
The two most popular ways companies measure the return on investment for their customer experience initiatives are very similar to the ways in which most companies measure marketing efforts: increased conversion rates (45%) and increased sales (43%).