Some 70% of company boards lack customer experience (CX) knowledge, putting businesses at risk of falling behind in a competitive market, according to a Tuesday report from Dimension Data.

The majority of the 1,100 respondents surveyed worldwide said lower-level management typically assume responsibility for CX initiatives. Only 17% said their organization takes a fully integrated, centralized approach to CX.

Most professionals recognize that CX is an important competitive differentiator (88%) that is vital for driving loyalty (87%), revenue growth (68%) and cost reduction (56%), the report found. However, 23% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the customer experience they deliver, and only 11% said they believe they are providing experiences that would lead customers to recommend their organization to others.

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This essentially creates an “artificial reality,” according to the report, where companies talk about CX, but fail to deliver on it. While businesses are looking into several CX technologies–including artificial intelligence (AI), customer analytics, and digital integration–most are unable to implement them properly, it noted.

“Customer experience must be higher on the agenda for every business and the whole organization should get behind it,” Nemo Verbist, group executive for customer experience at Dimension Data, said in a press release. “Brands acknowledge how crucial customer experience is, yet so few are making it a board-level responsibility, leaving it siloed or delegating it to individual managers. There’s an artificial reality between organizations’ CX ambitions and making real change that benefits the customer. This disconnect must be resolved.”

Many organizations are turning to technology to improve CX, but they typically lack a clear strategy in doing so, the report found. Some 30% of businesses said the digital solutions they’ve implemented, such as chatbots and AI, don’t provide the functionality their customers need, while 57% of respondents said customer awareness of such technologies is the biggest barrier to adoption.

“Rolling out a technology only to claim it doesn’t provide the functionality required, or that customers are unaware of it, isn’t a failure of the technology, but a failure of the planning,” Verbist said in the release. “Technology can give businesses many powerful tools to improve and support great customer experience, but it’s not simply a case of flicking a switch and it will work. Brands need to back their investments in technology with investments in their people, processes and planning.”

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • 70% of company boards lack CX knowledge. — Dimension Data, 2019
  • Professionals said that CX is an important competitive differentiator (88%) that is vital for driving loyalty (87%), revenue growth (68%) and cost reduction (56%). — Dimension Data, 2019