Zendesk has released its 2021 State of Customer Experience (CX) Maturity Report, with chief findings including that CX investment in the years prior to the pandemic made companies more resilient to COVID-related hardships.
The report breaks companies into four tiers of customer experience maturity: champions, riser, emerging and starters. Along with pandemic resiliency, champions were also 3.4 times more likely to have grown their customer base in the past six months and three times more likely than starters to have profitable customer service teams.
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Interestingly enough, the number of organizations that fall into the champion category has more than doubled since 2020, from 6% to 14%. Adam DeMattia, director of custom research at report partner Enterprise Research Group, said that forced digital transformation during the pandemic led many companies to realize customer service excellence can be a differentiator.
“The findings indicate that the shift to digital and remote work during the pandemic served as a trigger for companies to accelerate their adoption of new technologies, policies and processes to benefit from a higher CX Maturity,” DeMattia said.
What differentiates CX leaders from the rest
Jeff Titterton, COO at Zendesk, said that the research proves what many business leaders already know: “customer experience requires continuous investment and innovation to truly set [a] business apart.”
Based on its research, the report singles out three different areas that it said were “key imperatives for CX maturity.” Organizations looking for some key strategic points to focus on may want to consider these.
Use data to drive CX innovation
Champion-level companies were seven times more likely to be using customer service data as part of their CX planning, and those companies were also 12.7 times more likely to say that CX data’s impact on sales success was game changing.
Among North American respondents, 89% said CX innovation was essential to protect themselves from the competition, and 44% said there was more they could do with their customer service data.
Ergo, use the data generated from your customer service interactions to plan your CX strategy.
Treat customer interactions like conversations, not transactions
Ninety-seven percent of respondents said that their customer service teams are shifting toward more conversational interactions with their customers, and with good reason: Champion-level companies are already doing it.
Champion companies are three times more likely to “prioritize delivering conversational customer experiences that can build deeper customer relationships,” the report said. Many companies are also reaching out to customers on more service channels, with the average number of channels in North America rising from 6.6 to seven over the past year.
Make CX investments that include employees
Many companies, the report said, started investing more money and time in turnover reduction, training and employee well-being during the pandemic. Champions, in particular, moved fast to make CX changes that accounted for the comfort of their support teams.
In the early stages of the pandemic, 46% of champion-level organizations increased mobile device use for agents, 62% increased their use of the public cloud, 56% increased scheduling flexibility, 56% added new collaboration tools and 54% expanded their mental health and employee well-being programs.
All of that has led champions to have nearly four times the agent retention rate, and champions are 10.3 times more likely to believe they made the right investments during the pandemic.
Be sure to check out Zendesk’s additional CX maturity strategies.