Focusing on customer experience directly leads to higher business growth, according to new research.
Adobe’s 2020 Digital Trends report indicates that UK brands leading in customer experience (CX) were three times more likely to exceed their 2019 business goals.
It was also found that those leading in CX all shared a common approach to investing more in people, technology and structures.
Now in its tenth year, the Digital Trends report, in partnership with Econsultancy, surveyed over 13,000 global marketing, advertising, ecommerce, creative and IT professionals to understand their 2019 achievements and 2020 priorities.
- UK brands are recognising the importance of CX: 24% rank CX optimisation as their most exciting priority of 2020.
- The UK’s focus on CX is higher than the global and European average: The average is 22%; the UK is only behind the Nordics (26%) and France (25%).
- Despite this, there is a maturity gap between CX ambition and actual capability: Only 5% of UK brands rank their CX development as ‘very advanced’.
- CX talent acquisition is a problem: 19% of UK businesses leading in CX admit attracting and retaining talent in CX-related areas is their most pressing challenge of 2020.
- Acquiring digital talent is an even bigger issue: 31% of British brands say finding individuals with the right digital skills is preventing them from creating successful digital experiences (2% above European average).
“Today’s consumers have more choice, are better informed, and are more demanding than ever,” said Alvaro Del Pozo, Vice President of Marketing, International, at Adobe. “A customer-led approach is no longer optional – it’s business critical. Brands need to connect with customers in more dynamic and engaging ways. By focusing on creating the right culture and team, supported by the right technology, brands will be able to react to changing customer and market needs, faster than ever.”
Customer Experience is the top priority for UK brands, but maturity is lacking
Businesses in the UK clearly recognise the importance of taking a customer-first approach, with almost a quarter (24%) of British brands ranking CX optimisation as their most exciting priority for 2020. Encouragingly, the UK’s focus on CX outranks the global and European average of 22%, ahead of both Germany (23%) and Italy (16%), and behind only the Nordics (26%) and France (25%).
However, a clear maturity gap has opened up between CX ambition and actual capability in several European countries, with just one in 20 brands from the UK (5%), Germany and the Nordics (both 6%) ranking their CX development as ‘very advanced’. French brands rank themselves highest in Europe when it comes to CX maturity, with 16% saying their strategy and technology is aligned to the customer experience, ahead of Italy at 12%.
For brands seeking to close the maturity gap, they must look beyond a single piece of technology or initiative, instead focusing on creating an organisational structure and culture that adopts a customer-first model.
Attracting and retaining talent a top concern
Having the right people will be critical for brands looking to reach CX sophistication in 2020. However, the hunt for quality talent is proving to be a challenge for many, with one in five (19%) UK businesses leading in customer experience, admitting that attracting and retaining talent in CX-related areas is their most pressing challenge in 2020, second only to France (20%) in Europe.
Perhaps more worryingly, almost a third (31%) of British brands say finding people with the right digital skills is preventing them from creating successful digital experiences, ahead of the European average (29%). To plug the digital skills gap, particularly around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), brands must ensure they take an agile approach to upskilling, which aligns to long-term business strategy, flows from the top down, and spans the entire organisation.
AI will empower brands to optimise and personalise
The appetite for artificial intelligence and machine learning among UK businesses is continuing to grow in 2020, with 43% of British brands already using AI/ML or planning to invest this year. Brands that embrace automation possess a clear business advantage. Equipped with the ability to make intelligent real-time decisions that are personalised to the individual, businesses will be closer to their customers than ever before.
Encouragingly, a third of UK companies cite targeting and personalisation as their main area of focus in 2020 – while one in five say data-driven marketing that’s focused on the individual is their top priority, ranking ahead of both France (11%) and Germany (15%). This indicates that commitment to automation will only continue to grow this year and beyond.