Economist-Blog-ImageA lot of business ink surrounds two different topics: the C-level suite and the customer experience.  You’ll easily find a story, blog, expert commentary or opinion piece about “the customer experience” in virtually any current business or industry vertical publication and what various CEOs, CIOs, CMOs and other CXOs are doing well, or not so well.

A potential reason for all this buzz about the C-suite and the importance of the customer experience, or CX, is their interrelatedness.  Without suspending disbelief, organizations large and small have realized that neither the C-levels nor the delivery of high-quality CX can be wholly successful without each other.

Now we have some proof

It’s one thing to talk about the co-dependence of C-level executives and CX, and another thing entirely to validate the hypothesis and chatter with cold hard facts and research. New research available now from the Economist Intelligence Unit provides a new motivation for C-level engagement, which goes well beyond the historic platitudes about being a “customer service leader”.  The research shows that investment in CX is just plain good business.

The just finalized and released study is solely focused on the relationship of C-level engagement in CX initiatives.  It’s worth looking both at the global data itself as well as the analysis, and most importantly, the opportunities that lie ahead for those organizations whose C-level executives truly engage on CX.  By that we mean C-level executives not merely engaging with customers, which is of obvious value,  but engaging in leading customer experience initiatives.

Both broad and deep, the new Economist research survey was conducted with more than 500 senior executives from a wide variety of both business and consumer vertical industries, across 21 different countries around the globe.  Not surprisingly, the title of the Economist study is:  When The C-Suite Is In Charge of Customer Experience Initiatives, Business Performance Thrives.  

As obvious as that headline is to us at Genesys, and our customers, it is perhaps not to others.

What the data shows

The Economist data shows that traditionally, C-suite executives have not been engaged in CX initiatives. C-level executives may have talked a lot about CX, and may have even understood the value, but haven’t followed through with a solid commitment.

Now, according to the survey, we are seeing a shift. These 500-plus senior executives believe there is actually tremendous value in CX programs and initiatives, especially when top executives themselves are holding the reins of their organization’s CX initiatives.

Benefits of CX involvement to the bottom line

The data also reveals there are business benefits when senior leaders become involved in not just watching, but driving CX initiatives. These benefits include increased profitability, higher customer retention, higher revenue growth and reduced costs.

  • 64% of companies reported much higher profitability than their competitors when the CEO is in charge of the customer experience.
  • 59% believe they have better revenue growth as a result of their company’s actual investment in its delivery of customer experience.

These C-level ties don’t just stop with revenue and profit margin.  There’s also more accountability when senior executives run CX initiatives. That means greater success when the idea or program concept to improve CX actually turns into a campaign, gets measured and has accountability all the way up to the C-level team.

Lots of room to grow

According to The Economist survey, only one-third of executives said their company fails to measure the outcomes of CX initiatives, which is not surprising when considering these initiatives are increasingly C-level driven. That’s good, but probably not good enough.  Who would be comfortable as a customer to know that the company they’re paying is one of the 33% that doesn’t bother to measure the customer experience.

In addition, there is still both confusion and a power struggle over who specifically is leading the CX charge.

  • 72% of CEOs think they are in charge
  • 27% of the other C-suite executives disagree

Prioritizing CX is a journey

So should we feel either smug or disappointed, whether it’s a C-level or as part of the rank and file of an organization, in how well we may see our executives engage with CX?  Neither.

What matters most is how well companies align to the customer and their experience to create a new paradigm in managing customer interactions. It’s going to require a commitment to moving from a ‘department’ mentality to the entire organization owning CX. If that happens, the benefits go beyond just better CX for customers – it’s better for business performance. And that’s a lot of ink worth reading about.

Download the complete report featuring global results conducted by the Economist Research Unit here. 

7-1-15-Genesys_Economist_global_webinarAttend our global webinar, Wednesday, July 1st, which will go into the survey results in great detail.