Five Customer Experience Challenges That Must Be Overcome


November 28, 2017

by Carlos Hidalgo

Customer experience continues to take center stage with high-performing B2B organizations.  According to a Forbes Insights, EY Study on Customer Experience, 69% of CMO’s state customer experience was vital to their organizations growth strategy.

While the majority of organizations have their sights set on delivering customer experience, the task of implementing the focus largely falls to role of the already overburdened CMO. To be effective in implementing a customer experience strategy, there are still major challenges that persist across organizations that may impact success.

Below are five challenges that organizations must overcome if they are going to deliver on customer experience:

1. Organizing Their Data

In Dun & Bradstreet’s study, Driving Growth With Customer Data Management, it estimated that only 2-5% of organizations are “highly data mature”. Additionally, in another survey by Dun & Bradstreet, the average B2B database is rated as “questionable”.

Having organized and clean data is foundational to any customer experience initiative, yet data integrity and organization continue to pose a challenge to organizations of every size. The data challenge persists largely due to a lack of data governance. Additionally, many organizations have siloed, non-integrated technology stacks that each house data independent of the other, which is a recipe for continued poor data quality.

B2B organizations that want to be successful in delivering on the promise of customer experience, must improve upon the stewardship of their data.

2. Lack of Employee Engagement

In a previous post we discussed the value of employees understanding the brand promise of the organization. For many organizations, customer experience continues to live at the executive level as an aspiration, while the real customer experience happens in the trenches with marketing, sales, professional services and customer support.

If employees are not engaged in the meaning and delivery of customer experience across the organization, it will never happen. Leadership that is intent on delivering customer experience must realize the importance of EnablementEquipping and Empowerment of their employees as it is what will make the difference on delivering on the promise of falling short of expectations.

3. Marketing Does Not Have a Realistic View Of Their Connection With Customers

Marketo’s 2017 State of Engagement Report states that,“82% of marketers believe they have a deep understanding of how their customers want to be engaged.” However, the same report states “few think brands are taking the time to understand them and build a relationship.”

While many marketers take the steps to understand their customers, are they taking the right approach? Many take an internal approach of speaking to sales, working internally to chart the customer journey and mine their structured data.  However, this is a very limited and insular view and does not incorporate the true voice of the customer, which is the most important piece.

Marketers need to be realistic in how well they truly know and understand their customers needs and preferred methods of engagement. Without this customer insight, it will be impossible to consistently deliver customer experience.

4. Lack of Change

The change and sophistication of the B2B customer has been well documented on this blog and countless others. However, despite the disruptive change that has occurred with our customers, the majority of B2B brands still have not made the corresponding changes to keep pace.

While many organizations have been doing different things, i.e. creating more content, buying more technology, creating new roles, they are fundamentally not doing things differently.

I spoke with one CMO several weeks ago who stated, “we have best-of-breed technology and very smart people, but the communication and engagement we have with our customers is still so old fashioned and we are falling behind.”

While there is value in recognizing they are falling behind, the reality is that organizations that do not change to better meet the needs of their customers will eventually be incapable of catching up.

In today’s B2B environment, you change or you die.

5. Poor Definition of What Customer Experience Means

If you Google “Customer Experience” the results range from thought-leadership articles, to software companies, to customer service. In speaking to numerous CEOs and CMOs about customer experience, the conversations range from a focus on customer service and support, to customer success teams. Although many executives are talking about the subject, rarely have I sat with an executive that can state a clear and concise definition of what they mean when they say “customer experience.”

The most concise and clear definition I have seen for customer experience and one that I have adopted comes from Adam Richardson from Harvard Business Review:

“The sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”

The key words here are “sum totality” and “entire arc of being a customer”. This means there is not just one area, one function, or one department that is responsible and this impacts the organization holistically. Understanding the meaning and the impact of customer experience is necessary if it is going to be successful.

Customers will continue to demand a great experience with brands and brands will need to deliver excellence if they intend to grow. However, challenges abound as it relates to enabling this process and the development and implementation of customer experience is an ongoing task. Organizations that address these and other challenges are the ones that will win the customer experience battle and realize the benefits of revenue growth.

This post originally appeared on the VisumCx blog.

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About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.