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Check Your Priorities—Are You Really Putting the Customer First?

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Business leaders have long wish lists for improving the customer experience, but competing priorities pose significant hurdles to transforming the experience, according to new research. Meanwhile, some companies are redefining what it means to prioritize the customer.

Although customer experience correlates to customer loyalty and financial results, companies still struggle to deliver excellent experiences to their customers. In fact, only 6 percent of companies have reached the two highest levels of CX maturity, while 79 percent remain in the lowest two stages, according to a new report, The State of Customer Experience Management, by the Qualtrics XM Institute.

“It’s no surprise, therefore, that companies intend to focus more on CX in the coming year than they did last year,” writes Bruce Temkin, head of the Qualtrics XM Institute and the report’s author. The report goes on to note that to improve the customer experience, business leaders expect to focus more on three core areas: employee experience, brand experience, and product experience.

Redefine priorities to change the outcome
While the customer experience is influenced by numerous factors, most CX initiatives have been dedicated to low-hanging fruit such as increasing efficiencies with an immediate impact to the bottom line. The notion that executives are beginning to connect the dots between CX and other parts of the business suggests that they can no longer ignore the need for greater change.

Other analyst reports have pointed to a broadening of efforts to transform the customer experience. As Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter, said earlier this year about why employers are beginning to prioritize the employee experience, “employees are consumers too and they have their own growing expectations. And unless the employee journey is modernized, companies will eventually fall apart.”

However, prioritizing change is a challenge in itself. Temkin’s report found that the most common obstacle organizations encounter as they try to mature their CX is other competing priorities. For some companies, the answer to juggling multiple priorities might be redefining their priorities.

Consider the new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” that was recently published by the Business Roundtable. Under the new statement, the chief executives of Apple, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, and other major corporations, have affirmed that their companies have a “fundamental commitment” to deliver value to their customers, employees, suppliers, and communities—as well as shareholders.

Although it remains to be seen whether companies will actually deliver on these promises, it’s an acknowledgement that businesses have to do more than maintain the status quo. Prioritizing shareholder interests is not enough; customers, employees, and partners also demand more from businesses.  

Prioritizing change
As CX strategies continue to evolve, what’s clear is that transforming the customer experience is a never-ending process. And meeting customer needs must be balanced with other business priorities. But by rallying around mutual goals and maintaining communications across the organization, leaders can bring CX transformation to every area of the company in a way that promotes progress, growth, and differentiation.

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