Why Companies are Missing the Mark on Digital Customer Experiences

For the past several years, enterprise marketers have been laser focused on improving customer experiences. The annual digital trends surveys by Econsultancy and Adobe have repeatedly shown that improving customer experiences is one of the top strategic priorities for enterprise marketers.

Virtually all kinds of large enterprises are launching multiple digital initiatives designed to improve the customer experience (CX). Unfortunately, however, some of these initiatives have not been as successful as hoped, and as a result, they have not had as much impact on the customer experience as expected. A recent report by the IBM Institute for Business Value provides at least a partial explanation for the lackluster success.

The IBM report is based on the results of two surveys. The first was a survey of 600 senior business and marketing leaders at B2C companies located in China, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The second was a survey of over 6,000 consumers in the same countries. IBM compared the executives’ survey responses to the consumers’ responses to gauge how well the two groups were aligned.

IBM found that there are significant disconnects between companies’ and consumers’ expectations for digital customer experiences. Three of these disconnects are particularly important.

  • Business leaders and consumers mostly disagree about what will motivate customers to try digital CX applications – Except for “convenience,” the motivations ranked highly by business leaders were near the bottom of the consumers’ list.
  • Business leaders underestimate the impact of generational differences on consumers’ interest in digital CX applications – Sixty-three percent of millennial consumers said they are excited to see how companies will use digital CX technologies, but only 39% of baby boomers expressed this view.
  • Many consumers have been disappointed with companies’ digital CX offerings – Most consumers who said they had tried a digital CX application but didn’t adopt it for regular use indicated that the application provided a disappointing experience. The primary reasons for the disappointment were that the application didn’t work as expected, or that it was inconvenient or too difficult to use or too confusing.

The primary takeaways from the IBM study are that business and marketing leaders must analyze and understand their customers’ root motivations, desires, and pain points, and that they must design digital experiences to meet identified customer expectations.


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