Report reveals obstacle to better customer service is organisational, not technical

Global survey shows organisations are struggling to create a seamless, friction-free consumer experience.

Companies face fierce internal resistance to change basic organisational and omni-channel strategies to improve their customer approach, a recent study released by The Economist Intelligence Unit claims.

The report, Creating A Seamless Customer Experience, surveyed 491 senior executives and 2403 consumers including those from Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific. More than a third of senior executives saw silos within their organisation as the biggest issue to omni-channel engagement, while around a quarter cited lack of senior management vision.

Close to half of consumers cited a lack of interest in customer satisfaction as the largest hurdle. By contrast, relatively few blamed technology gaps.

Customer expectations of interactions with organisations are changing rapidly, and the report stressed there is no longer any room for complacency. According to EIU, the customer experience is no longer considered a series of separate touchpoints such as a store visit, a website review or a catalogue perusal.

Instead, customers expect a holistic, seamless experience in which their interactions with a company or brand are easy and efficient, as well as sustainable over multiple types of engagements.

Taking a look at the nitty-gritty of creating an omni-channel presence, let alone a seamless one, the report made it clear many companies are still at a shockingly early stage of development.

While 79 per cent of senior executives surveyed recognised that improving customer experience was a strategic priority, many companies still have basic work to do creating an omni-channel presence. Of the companies surveyed that deal directly with customers over their websites, about one-third had not yet customised the site for use over desktop, tablet and mobiles, and only 40 per cent offered all of their products and services across all of these platforms. Just one-third could engage with customers in real time, at any time.

Related: Myer admits struggle to meet omni-channel customer expectations
Coming to terms with omni-channel retailing

The report showed there is little sign of the type of organisational shift necessary to make a clearer omni-channel strategy happen. Few have created roles such as a chief customer officer to take charge of the customer journey, the EIU found, and many have basic work to do on integrating content between different platforms. Less than one-third track customer behaviour across channels.

“Integrating channels can require major company reorganisations and significant investment in unifying separate IT systems,” said the report’s editor, Martin Koehring. “Most companies now accept that, but they have not yet faced up to the scale of organisational change necessary to become truly omni-channel.”

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