Companies are committed to customer experience (CX). It's a priority in most, more important this year than last — and many companies are hiring more people to focus on it. Those are among the key takeaways in the latest  of a series of reports from Temkin Group, a customer experience (CX) research and consulting firm.

Positive Attitudes about CX

The report, Customer Experience Expectations and Plans for 2014, (fee charged) is the fourth in a series from Temkin Group. This one surveyed 152 companies with $500 million or more in annual revenues about their customer experience results in the past year and asked them about their plans for 2014 and beyond.

Managing Partner Bruce Temkin, who is also co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, told CMSWire the current report is characterized by companies’ “positive attitudes about CX.” He outlined three main findings:

•  CX remains the priority and companies have even higher expectations than in previous years. About 84 percent of companies report their executives are “fully committed to their company’s CX goals,” while more than half say their companies “fully understand the link between CX and business results.” The report notes that 87 percent of companies saw positive business results from CX in 2013, and seventy-seven percent expect positive or moderately positive results this year.

•  Companies are expanding their CX efforts across channels,  including websites and social media. About 85 percent of responding companies noted CX will be even more important this year than last, and 63 percent expect to spend more on CX this year. These statistics, the report said, represent the highest levels it has ever recorded.

About three quarters of respondents will be expending more effort in 2014 to improve CX for website and mobile devices. But in-store experience is at the bottom of the list, and phone self-service – those often frustrating trees of menu choices in automated voice response – is stagnating, with no change in CX effort. But there is a slight uptick in efforts to improve the CX of live phone agents.

•  Companies are hiring more people to focus on CX, and spending more money. Nearly 60 percent of responding companies now have more than five people in centralized CX units. Nearly a quarter have twenty or more, and slightly more than half plan to increase their staffing this year.

Firms are also spending heavily on consultants, with nearly a third expecting to increase their spending on CX consultants in 2014. Significant spending will continue for vendors in text analytics, voice of the customer software, predictive analytics, experience design and market research.

Learning Opportunities

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The Question of Why

Temkin pointed to an increased emphasis on text analytics as a key difference from previous years. He noted that text analytics began with “looking at things like comments in surveys or social media.” It now includes analysis of entire conversations in contact centers to give what he described as “a richer insight into how customers feel, if they’re satisfied, if they’re likely to recommend” a product or service – and, most importantly, the essential question of why customers are doing what they’re doing.

Companies with the most positive CX results have above-average financial performance, understand the connection to business results and possess the needed resources, skills and leadership. They are also the ones that focus most on websites, phone agents, mobile and measurement/analytics.

Customer experience, in some form or another, has been an aspect of most customer-facing companies since the first peddler started remembering the names of his customers. But it has now become a major component of modern business. When asked the role that digital media has had in causing this boom, Temkin pointed out that digital media, necessarily interested in usability, “has led to an interest in the usability of companies, and that has led to recognizing and emphasizing the entire layer of interaction” that takes place between a customer and a company.

Graphs by Temkin Group.