Companies that fail to provide the customer experience demanded by today’s technology-savvy consumers risk getting hit where it hurts most -- their profits. The new Oracle Global Customer Experience Report highlights exactly how companies are falling short of modern customer experience benchmarks.

“There is a serious financial impact if you don’t provide the experience customers want,” said Brian Curran, VP, Customer Experience Strategy of Oracle during a briefing with CMSWire. Curran was discussing the results of the new report from Oracle, which indicate subpar customer experience can cost companies up to 20% of their revenue.

“It’s shocking how many companies said they haven’t gotten formal customer experience programs,” said Curran. “They’re flirting.”

For example, Curran said when it comes to social media, in general companies have done an “excellent job embracing social media from a marketing standpoint, but have missed by a mile engaging customer sales and service through social media.”

The Execution Chasm

One striking finding of the survey Curran discussed is the “chasm between what businesses think the impact of a poor customer experience will be and what customers say it will be. While 49% of executives responding to the study say a customer will switch brands due to poor customer experience, 89% of customers have done just that. And executives also underestimate the benefits of a good customer experience -- 44% say customers will pay for a great customer experience, a figure only about half of the 86% of customers who actually are willing to do so.

The “execution chasm also applies to companies actually getting started with formal customer experience initiatives, according to Curran. Ninety-one percent of executives want their business to be recognized as a customer experience leader, but 37% are still in the beginning phases of a formal customer experience initiative and only 20% say their initiative is “advanced.”


Knowing When and How to Engage

Another benefit of having a formal customer experience initiative is obtaining a better understanding of when and how to engage the customer, according to Curran. “A brand should engage when a customer asks about a product, he said. This means companies should do things like monitor product communities and customer commentary on social networks, as well as engage customers when they ask a question on a company’s official website.

In addition, Curran said mobile is “the customer’s device of choice,” meaning companies should focus on developing optimized mobile experiences. “Making a copy of a big screen and slapping it on mobile will not work. You should take advantage of unique mobile capabilities like GPS.”

Curran said there is no single answer as to whether companies should use responsive design or build a totally new site for mobile devices, but should decide what works best on a case by case basis.

The Holistic, ‘Human-centric’ Approach

One of the biggest obstacles Curran sees to developing an advanced customer experience initiative is the “silo mentality” of most companies. “There is a lot of new data and analytics you can use in real time to provide a relevant customer experience,” said Curran. “Data is king.” Yet departmental silos keep valuable data locked away, requiring companies to holistically look at the customer across all departments, meaning marketing and sales must share the same data, for example.

“People in contact centers need to be able to engage customers in a relevant way,” he stated. “You need an empowered organization.”

Furthermore, Curran said companies must use a “human-centric” customer experience design that shows “empathy” for the customer. “Have you empowered customers for self-service?” he asked. “Can they save access to data and knowledge they need?”

Other interesting data points from the report include:

  • Businesses estimate they will increase spending on customer experience technology by 18% in the next two years.
  • Only 49% of businesses offer customers personalized communications with relevant offers and information based on segments and preferences.
  • 81% of businesses believe social media is necessary to deliver a great customer experience, but 35% lack social media for sales channels and 35% lack social media for customer service.
  • 93% of executives name customer experience as a top three priority for the next two years.