CX proponents believe CSAT, NPS or some other measure of experience quality are KPIs. This study, like many other surveys in recent years, finds enthusiastic support for CX initiatives. About eight in ten of the respondents (predominantly senior managers and CX professionals) report that improving customer experience is very important to their success, and a similar percentage agree that customer satisfaction is extremely important in measuring performance.
However, three dozen interviews with managers and experts in marketing, sales, and customer service positions revealed a different reality. For them, operational metrics play a much greater role in success.
Here’s a summary chart summarizing primary success drivers across the organization. CEOs strive to drive profitable growth through the combined activities of marketing and sales (revenue), and customer service (cost and efficiency). CX stands alone with its singular focus on customer satisfaction.
Figure 3 – Primary Success Drivers by Function
CustomerThink’s survey found good alignment between Senior Management and Customer Experience roles, in terms of the objectives considered “very important” to their success. For both roles, “improving customer experience” was No. 1. Similar priorities were found in customer retention, employee engagement, efficiency, and cost reduction.
Figure 4 – Objectives Important to Success
Some statistically significant gaps can be found in a few areas, however.
- CX professionals naturally rank “improving customer experience” very highly at 91%, compared to a still leading 75% for senior managers.
- Growth-related objectives received less weight by CX professionals: increasing sales, acquiring new customers, and growing existing customer revenue.
- Senior managers were more concerned about reducing compliance risks.
The overall picture appears encouraging; senior managers support CX, and there is good alignment on several other business priorities. All good, right?
Not quite. Appearances (and surveys) can be deceiving.
First, consider the biases implicit in any survey like this. The survey sample in this case was drawn from CustomerThink.com community members. They become involved due to an interest in CX and customercentricity, hence they are not representative of all businesses.
Also, CustomerThink believes that professing the importance of CX is an example of “social desirability bias” – the tendency of research subjects to give answers they think are more acceptable to makes them feel good about themselves, rather than revealing their true feelings or thoughts.6 Put bluntly, it’s become trendy to say customer experience is a top priority. That’s “lip service” when it’s not backed up with action.
CX Goals Are Not Cascading
To overcome these biases, CustomerThink used qualitative interviews to better understand job responsibilities, success factors, and how investment decisions are made within companies. They suggest a serious disconnect between top management rhetoric and how most companies operate.
When top management sets goals and creates strategies, these must be translated or “cascaded” down the organization, to ensure alignment between the declared strategy and employee activities. According to performance management expert John Courtney