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Are businesses failing their customers? New research delves into customer experience

The global climate around business-customer relationships is shifting, with customer expectations changing around their experience and interactions.

New research indicates that businesses are not meeting changing expectations, with only 17% of organisations in Asia Pacific saying customers rate brand experiences as fully satisfactory. Furthermore, satisfaction around AI and robotics is even worse.

According to the research from NTT titled ‘The Connected Customer: Delivering an effortless experience’, today customers are looking for hyper-personalised, effortless experiences.

NTT Asia Pacific director for intelligence workplaces Pranay Anand says, “Customer expectations are higher than ever - businesses cannot afford to fail in CX. By listening to the voice of the customer, integrating data across systems, in addition to adopting emerging technologies like AI and RPA, companies can leverage CX to gain a competitive advantage.

“However, most companies are missing valuable insights that are integral to stay relevant to and better connect with customers across every touchpoint.”

The report states that only 12% of Asia Pacific organisations are delivering a fully functioning experience, yet more than half (64%) consider customer experience (CX) to be a primary differentiator.

A large problem with the lack of satisfaction from customers is the organisation’s inability to respond to feedback, according to NTT.

The report shows organisations struggle to align their CX strategies to voice of customer (VoC) feedback, with 54% having no formal process for considering this data and 19% which capture no feedback at all.

Only 34% fully define and track the value contribution of CX and roughly a third (34%) are able to connect data relationships between channels leaving the rest operating blind with no full view of the customer ecosystem, the research shows.

However, this is slowly improving, with the collection of VoC feedback captured by organisations increasing 45% since 2019 and 10% now perceiving their VoC program to be at an advanced level across all channels.

NTT’s report offers various suggestions as to how to improve customer experience and overcome various challenges that may be present.

According to the research, the top three challenges are failing technology systems, siloed challenges and internal business organisations and inconsistent priorities.

One in five (20%) organisations say their technology systems are failing to meet current needs and many teams still struggle with legacy systems (42%) and the integration of multiple technology systems (43%).

Additionally, the inability to secure budgets (48%) remains a concern and skills shortages is seen as a growing concern (26%). When it comes to internal operations, half (51%) of organisations agree there is only partial collaboration between functions when it comes to designing CX, and 13% dont collaborate at all

Less than two thirds (60%) still have no cross-channel contact management strategy and 30% claim to have good or complete consistency across contact channels.

As for inconsistencies, personalisation capabilities have surged from 62% to 78% in one year, but just 17% of organisations place customer delight as the top driving force behind their customer journey design strategy.

This may account for why over one third (44%) of assisted services enquires fail to be resolved during first contact, while automated channels fare worse with a 57% fail rate.

When facing these challenges NTT states having a robust strategy and making use of data analytics is a useful approach. It is especially important that organisations consider strategies around AI and robotics, as only 11% of AI and robotics users say customers rate their experience at advocacy level.

NTT states organisations must learn to fill the gap between data management and integration, and prioritise an efficient data management platform.

As it stands, only half (50%) of data capture needs are defined and aligned to desired business outcomes, and just 20% have a dedicated team managing the company's entire data lake.

In fact, 15% have no data management strategy at all. Because of this, data is becoming increasingly difficult to manage, NTT states.

Half (50%) of all teams are evaluating and learning how to use available data and 22% do not have the required data management skills or resources to do so.

NTT finds that an increasing number of organisations are moving towards the use of smart data to inform CX decisions but are often overwhelmed by this transformation.

Half of businesses confirmed data analytics and data management will be one of the top three tech initiatives prioritised by the CX team.

Analytics (59%) is expected to be the top factor in reshaping the CX industry within the next five years. This is closely followed by artificial intelligence (57%), service personalisation (38%) and technology integration (37%).

Another feature that will positively impact user experience is to fill the skills gap, especially when it comes to AI and robotics.

Many organisations believe AI and automation is the future for creating operational efficiency, hyper personalisation and providing an effortless customer experience.

The majority (71%) of businesses believe customer operations will be positively affected by AI and CX robotics.

Rules-based robotic solutions are the preferred option both now and in the short term with AI being the top five-year priority. However, the implementation of AI remains difficult.

Businesses must find a solution for the current lack of skills across the business, which is currently considered a challenge for more than half (59%) of organisations today, NTT states.

Anand says, “Businesses must look at how technologies such as AI and RPA can work as part of their organisational team structures. But to do this successfully, AI needs to work with the voice of the customer data which is collected by advanced social listening tools.

“This data must also be compiled from across the business value chain in order to help AI realise its potential. Therefore, design thinking and an ecosystem focused approach is imperative.”