Three-quarters of organisations surveyed by Gartner increased customer experience (CX) technology investments in 2018.

Customer analytics continues to be one of the biggest investments, with 52 per cent intending to increase funding in 2019, focusing on customer journey analysis, customer needs analysis, voice of the customer (VoC) and digital marketing.

The figures are contained in Gartner’s 2019 Customer Experience Innovation Survey, which gathered data from 244 respondents in seven countries in North America, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific, across a wide range of industries — 26 per cent were from Australia and New Zealand.

The objective of the study was to understand the priorities, technology investments and high-stakes situations faced by organisations in their CX initiatives.

The survey revealed that when organisations grow in CX maturity, a greater focus of technology investment is placed on increasing customer understanding and delivering accurate actions by analysing data.

At the same time, CX programs expand from a core team to a wider group of employees. The requirement for change management makes employee training tools an important technology investment.

According to the survey, the top five CX project priorities in 2019 are metrics (64 per cent); VoC (50 per cent); increasing speed of product and service launches (45 per cent); product proliferation and personalisation (45 per cent); prioritisation of CX investments (44 per cent); and customer journey automation (44 per cent).

“Knowing where your strengths and challenges lie and the next steps needed to improve maturity will help with project prioritisation and planning,” said Olive Huang, research VP at Gartner.

“Also, extend your spending to different technologies as your CX maturity increases, paying particular attention to customer analytics investments.”

According to the survey, the top three emerging technologies expected to have the biggest impact on CX projects in the next three years include artificial intelligence (53 per cent), virtual customer assistants and chatbots (39 per cent) and omnichannel engagement solutions (37 per cent).

The survey reveals that many organisations have faced crisis situations in their CX program within the last three years. Economic or financial pressure has impacted the highest proportion of respondents (53 per cent).

For those with lower maturity levels, 60 per cent had CX initiative launches stalled due to lack of executive support, and 59 per cent found it difficult to demonstrate value or ROI, which leads the CFO to question all future investments.

“High-stakes situations impacting CX programs can result in the removal of funding for a CX initiative or its cancellation, or even employees losing their jobs,” Huang said.

“This may lead to a decline in the quality of the customer experience, weakened financial performance of the organisation and erosion of its competitive position.”

According to Huang, there are many actions you can take to avoid these situations or reduce their impact, from securing management buy-in to improving technologies that support change management programs, such as employee training tools.

“Pay special attention to building recruitment, retention and succession plans for key technology leadership roles related to CX,” she said.

“Candidates for these roles are often hard to find and highly valued in the job market.”

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