As I wrote previously, the jostling in the customer experience (CX) technology marketplace over the summer saw Kitewheel purchased by CSG, Usermind purchased by Qualtrics, and Medallia taken private by Thoma Bravo. Then Qualtrics bought Clarabridge, too.
Earlier this month, Genesys acquired Pointillist and Exceed.ai.
And there’s likely more to come.
All that activity might have escaped your notice, but that doesn’t mean you’ll escape the ramifications.
So what do these developments mean for you? Opportunity, if you play your cards right; danger, if you sit out this hand.
Rumblings across industries
In the course of doing business, I touch base with dozens of SaaS executives, business leaders, and CX professionals. This is what I’ve been hearing:
First, the bad news. Only a small fraction of companies are prepared for the paradigm shift in CX that’s upon us. Numerous companies are rethinking their CX tech stack, investing heavily in those capabilities in order to ramp up impact as soon as possible.
Even if you’re not among them, your competitors probably are, so before long you might be left too far behind to catch up.
There’s too much at stake to hop on just any platform. Do your own homework or leverage agnostic technical expertise before making a decision.
The good news, however, is that these advances in CX technology now also give you the ability to demand (and get) more from your CX team. Today’s journey mapping, analytics, and orchestration software can empower those pros to achieve your goals more effectively and efficiently than ever before.
And implementing these powerhouse SaaS capabilities no longer requires specialized IT teams and expensive hardware. That means they can more nimbly produce the quantifiable, sustainable financial benefits that have eluded so many for so long.
This shift in the CX landscape is the result of two compelling market forces:
- Technological advances that have made it possible to monitor and manage a real-time, 360-degree picture of customer behavior that can generate outstanding business and customer outcomes; and
- Mergers and acquisitions among the companies that developed these capabilities are spurring further innovation. And disconnected technologies are now consolidating into broad, integrated SaaS enterprise experience platforms.
We’ve come to a fork in the road
At this juncture, businesses face a choice: utilize these newly accessible tools and platforms, or continue to rely on traditional surveys and listening posts to understand what your customers want and need from you.
But the writing on the wall says that those who aren’t taking advantage of these enhanced capabilities today will lose out in tomorrow’s marketplace. Here’s why:
- Traditional CX surveys such as NPS and CSAT by their very nature track past, self-reported That means your understanding of your customers is going to be limited and dated. Nonetheless, those kinds of surveys are still a CX mainstay, as if the scores correlate to business performance. (Spoiler alert: they rarely do.)
- CX technology, on the other hand, measures and manages what matters as it happens…and intervene across channels in real time to improve outcomes for customers and the business.
- It’s well established that customer decisions are based on emotions, and eliciting an emotional response is the most reliable predictor of customer loyalty. Yet only the most innovative CX programs measure and design for that. Until recently, there hadn’t been a practicable, reliable way to capture customer sentiment. The enhanced capabilities of today’s CX tech stack put this goal in reach.
- With customer expectations higher than ever, ignoring emotion is riskier than ever. This goes beyond missing out on increased loyalty and customers who spend more with you, buy more often, cost less to serve, and recommend you to their friends. It also puts you at risk of degrading existing loyalty with scattershot initiatives that respond sluggishly to customer needs…especially if your competitors are taking advantage of these tools to knock it out of the park.
Evolve from reporting to acting
The ability of these newly merged SaaS companies to offer complete integration of the voice of the customer with metrics, orchestration, and communications enables sophisticated feedback collection, accelerated systemic responses, cost-effective A/B testing, and targeted interventions.
This fundamentally changes the playing field on which CX has traditionally operated. At last, designing to elicit an emotional connection can be standard practice, not just the gold standard. It’s hard to overstate the potential financial benefits of that development.
So empower your CX team to do what it was created to do and demand they deliver on that promise: to leverage voice of the customer insights to produce quantifiable, sustainable business growth.
Set yourself up for success
There is one caveat, though: to maximize rewards and minimize risks, look before you leap. This investment needs to be made for the long-term health of your bottom line. But there’s too much at stake to hop on just any platform. Marketplace volatility means even some of today’s most prominent players might not be around tomorrow.
Do your own homework or leverage agnostic technical expertise to see where you stand before choosing a platform. Then optimize implementation across your entire ecosystem so that you’re using all of the features you paid for to the fullest.
We can help.
Heart of the Customer offers a comprehensive assessment of your current CX capabilities and can partner with you to develop a customized measurement framework compatible with your existing systems that meets your unique needs, as well as help you design your future-state journey.
That’s the key to making the most of your team’s skills and today’s tools. The research is clear: Executing on a comprehensive CX strategy yields robust ROI.
These are exciting times in CX…and I believe the best is yet to come.