A month after IDCwarned companies about the tough challenges in improving customerexperience, a new survey by the research firm shows little more than half thefirms areeven trying.

About 53 percent of the 799 organizations in the follow-up study said they'repursuing a customer experience program, according to MaryWardley, the IDC vicepresident and CRM analyst who also conducted the earlier study.

The survey also found 22 percent are actively working to improveemployee experience, which Wardley said is "integral" to improvingthe customer experience. Sixteen percent are working with their partners to servecustomers better.

Wardley sought the additional data, which has not yet been formally released,to get more clarity on how well organizations understand customer experience andits popular siblings: employee experience, partner experience and supplier experience. She also explored how,who, why and what are involved in current programs.

Come Together

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The split between those actively working on customer experience and those whoaren't shouldn't surprise anyone. In the earlier report, Wardleynoted that "while many corners of the organization understand and believe in the customer imperative, these departments often do not come togetherto collaborate on customer experience initiatives."

In an interview with CMSWire then, she estimated most organizations are onlyin the first or second levels of the five-story climb to improved customerexperiences.

The new data confirmed this while also shedding light on whatcompanies are doing now, assuming they're doing something at all. Wardley wasn'tavailable for a second interview, but shared her notes on the new study.

"As we will see in the data, there is a direct link between customerexperience and employee experience that organizations are seeing," she wrote.

Who's In Charge?

The intent of the companies to move forward with customer initiatives wasclear in answer to another question: Who will run it?

Almost three in four respondents said they either have a CustomerExperience Officer or similar person in place today (39 percent) or will appointone during 2015 (34 percent). An additional 27 percent also plan to add oneafter this year. Only 0.2 percent said they have no plans to put someone incharge of customer experience.

Asked what they felt were the key factors driving a superior customerexperience, the top answer, with nearly 50 percent, was to be expected:"consistent experience across different channels."  Immediatelybehind it came "personnel that are motivated, capable and friendly."

That suggests most organizations know employee experience programs are needed,eventhough less than half that many companies have initiated them.

"The data came back showing us what we have been espousing for a while-- that employee experience may be equal, if not more, in importance inproviding a standout customer experience than just focusing on thecustomer," Wardley wrote.

Learning Opportunities

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What Workers Want

Not only do companies recognize the importance of employees in satisfyingcustomers, they also have some thoughts on "driving a superior employeeexperience."  The top suggestion was to "align processes toensure that all relevant  information is available and shared."

Nearly70 percent of the sampling cited that. But six in 10 companies also found it wasimportant to provide "excellent and extensive" self-service options,and to provide seamless collaboration with other employees.

Additional answers included: training employees (55 percent), hiring the rightpeople (54 percent) and rewarding and retaining the best employees (54 percent).

"You have to hire the right people, train them, nurture them and putthem in an environment that helps them perform their job," Wardley said."Today, technologies can greatly aid that process."

Of course, before you can improve customer experience, it helps to understandthe reason for the interaction. Pricing questions and product support were theonly two factors noted by more than half the respondents. Three categories wereclose behind in a virtual three-way tie: questions posed in an online community,shipping information, and billing and payment.

Turning to technologies, well over 50 percent thought that both mobile andsocial were helping to improve the customer experience.  Trailing them, inthe low-40 percentiles, were the cloud and analytics -- technologies that havebecome pervasive in the past few years.

Everything's Connected

Looking over all the new data, Wardley summed up the findings with achallenge: "Tell me these aren't interdependent."

  • Customers want a consistent experience across channels
  • Employees need to be hired and trained effectively
  • Partner experience needs a unified view
  • Supplier experience needs business process alignment and proper supplierselection

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Titleimage by BaileyRae Weaver.