According to Forrester Research, more than two-thirds of brands now aim to differentiate based on customer experience. Confirming this, the 2016 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report which surveyed more than 1000 organizations this year across 81 countries and 14 industries shows that: 83% of contact-center-related executives now recognize customer experience as a competitive differentiator (a rise of more than 30% since 2012). And 78% recognize CX as the most important board level strategic performance measure. But another statistic from this report caught my eye. When asked about the top items that will reshape the contact center industry - and the customer experience - during the next five years, contact center professionals said this: Customer Analytics (50.2%) Integrated customer journeys / consistent omnichannel capabilities (47.5%) Digital channel service capabilities (43.8%) Yet, only 20% said it was executive commitment that would reshape their contact center and the customer experience. Which leads to a question: does customer service and the contact center feel it’s getting the executive support and commitment it needs? Because customer service and the contact center certainly impacts the customer experience. According to Microsoft’s own 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report which surveyed 5,000 consumers across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States: 97% say customer service is important in their choice of, and loyalty to, a brand. 60% have stopped doing business with a brand due to a single poor customer service experience. and 56% say they have higher expectations for customer service now than they had just one year ago. But right now, most customer service and contact center staff who interact with customers - and are creating customer experiences for better or for worse - tens to hundreds of time every day are struggling to keep up. Going back to the items they view as most important to them and the customer experience: 79% of those surveyed in the 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report say they have no big picture view of customer interactions across channels. They feel technology challenges are holding them back, including these top four issues: (1) integrating multiple systems, (2) legacy systems inhibiting flexibility, (3) pressure on resources and (4) budget burdens. And because of the above, only 4% of companies are able to solve a customer inquiry with a single application, according to a new Forrester Report commissioned by Microsoft. That report notes: “Companies are hampered by legacy technology and processes that keep them from delivering service excellence. Too often, this leads to ad hoc technology implementations without a clear tie back to the holistic customer experience strategy. “The effect on customer experience includes: a fragmented experience for customers who use an average of 2 to 3 channels per service inquiry. This fragmentation is compounded by the inaccessibility of information across channels. and a collapse of the overall customer experience and an increase in operational costs as customers restart their conversations with agents at each new channel.” Moving back to the CEO. There has been much written about the CMO and marketing owning the customer experience. But the CEO needs to equally assure the contact center and customer service that she or he knows their impact on the customer experience, has their back, and has her or his (and other executives’) commitment. Think of CEOs who give that hat tip to customer service and serve as very visible customer service representatives (Tony Hsieh and Sir Richard Branson for example), and how their brand’s customer experience is perceived. While many contact center professionals don’t think executive commitment will reshape their contact center and the customer experience in the next five years according to the statistic above – which is good for the CEO to know - maybe they just need more reason to believe. ---------------- Learn More About Customer Service Goals & Challenges In a Forrester report titled The Mandate for Intelligence Customer Service, Forrester Research outlines the challenges and the impact of customer service when it comes to the overall customer experience following a survey of top professionals. Find out what they had to say and how to improve your organization’s own customer service and customer experience. Click here to access the Forrester Report. To learn more about transformation tools that not only help to deliver a more consistent customer service experience, but a more consistent overall customer experience through better collaboration with sales, marketing and other departments, check out Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.