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New survey from Forbes Insights and Glassbox reinforces the importance of digital customer experience

A new survey reinforces the need for companies to focus on the digital customer experience (CX) to edge out competitors. Forbes Insights and Glassbox recently joined forces to survey 400 leading U.S.-based business executives across industries. The results offer important insight into how leaders view digital CX, growth opportunities for digital CX technology and common challenges facing businesses as they implement long-term strategy.

Key takeaways from The Leading Edge of Digital Customer Experience are outlined below. Download your copy of the report to view insights and analysis in full, and to better understand the state of digital CX nationwide.

84% of executives agree: to survive, businesses must deliver excellent digital CX

The study confirmed that digital CX is vital for business. Eighty four percent of executives agree that to survive in today’s digitally transformed age, businesses must consistently deliver an excellent digital customer experience.

Digital CX was affirmed by 81% of business leaders to be an important competitive differentiator, quickly becoming as essential to a company’s success as products, services and pricing.

Understanding the importance of digital CX is a crucial starting point. However, effectively implementing a complex digital CX strategy company-wide has proven to be challenging. A deeper analysis of responses showed that many organizations may overstate the sophistication and readiness of their digital CX capabilities.

Obstacles to digital CX readiness are internal

Most executives speak proudly of their digital CX, with over a quarter claiming it to be the best in the industry. Only 9% of surveyed business leaders described their digital CX as below-average. Digging in, researchers found that many of these claims held little water, due in large part to the dearth of defined goals, strategy and internal ownership.

Only 38% of executives report having clearly defined goals and strategies for digital CX, and just 36% have established ownership and delegated responsibility for digital CX. These statistics indicate that a number of executives are overestimating their own organization’s readiness to overcome CX challenges.

The broad lack of detailed strategy is likely preventing many business’ CX from reaching its full revenue and retention booting potential. Without goals, metrics, clarity and assigned digital CX leaders, companies will struggle to build and maintain a competitive digital CX long-term.

Improved digital CX is linked to profitability

Echoing the supermajority of respondents who say they recognize the large and growing significance of digital CX to the present and future of their business, 83% of respondents agree that they see a positive correlation between improved digital CX and profitability. Seventy seven percent agreed that they can fully link digital CX investments to improved business performance.

What is having the biggest impact on success? Above all, omnichannel operations. Over forty percent of business leaders express high confidence in the strength of their organization’s ability to work across channels. Employees can easily access in-store and digital transactions at the same time (49%); and customer interactions in contact centers, mobile apps and online channels are fully integrated (43%).

The largest opportunity for growth and improvement is in mapping and understanding each customer’s digital journey. Only a third of executives reported having a full grasp of their customers’ entire end-to-end digital journey. Without this understanding, companies may be missing issues that lead to site abandonment and customer frustration. Comprehensive visibility also enables companies to personalize digital channels in ways that enhance customer loyalty–currently only 34% of business leaders are confident that their digital experiences are optimally personalized.

A theme emerged when analyzing digital CX weaknesses: organizations need to prioritize customer satisfaction and become more customer-obsessed. Executives rated revenue, satisfaction and customer effort as the three most important digital CX metrics in the year ahead. By focusing efforts in those three areas, businesses can provide a seamless digital experience that improves customer satisfaction, addresses invisible inefficiencies and doesn’t leave any money on the table.

Talent retention and legacy mindsets are among top challenges

Just as the majority of respondents are still working to find their full footing on digital CX strategy, most are still grappling with the challenges of implementing and maintaining a long-term digital CX strategy.

The top barriers to long-term digital CX success include:

  • Privacy and security: 69% of executives find achieving and maintaining security, data privacy and compliance a challenge. Tightening regulations and shifting customer preferences indicated that businesses must prioritize security, privacy and data collection consent within their digital platforms or risk losing customers.
  • Legacy analytics practices: 66% say they are having difficulty shifting their analytics posture from a reactive to a proactive/predictive stance. Often, legacy data and analytics methodologies are so ingrained into long-standing business practices that changes can take longer to implement organization-wide, even after leaders identify the shift as valuable.
  • Talent retention: The great resignation is in full swing, and digital CX is being affected. Sixty five percent find attracting and retaining talent that understands both the technological and business implications of digital CX a challenge. However, there is hope for high-growth businesses– organizations with 20%+ revenue growth reported less difficulty retaining talent.
  • Cross-team collaboration: 63% say fostering collaboration and communication across business functions around digital CX is difficult, and only 22% of CX teams collaborate closely with IT and data teams, likely creating gaps that impact customers. Departmental silos must be broken down to optimize digital platforms.

Addressing these challenges will require top-level executive commitment to digital CX improvement, coupled with dedicated troubleshooting resources.

A long-term priority, a rewarding investment

The digital world moves fast. The pandemic and emerging digital disruptors are making it increasingly difficult for businesses to differentiate from competitors through digital CX, but it has never been more important. In the near future, beginning this year, companies will prioritize digital CX by aligning organizational and budgetary efforts.

Nearly all respondents signaled that they will spend more on both digital CX technology and personnel in the years to come. Executives will expand their use of a variety of technologies that support CX improvement, including infrastructure, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence.

Their investments are more than likely to pay dividends in the form of increased customer happiness, customer retention and revenue.

Download the full Forbes Insights and Glassbox report, The Leading Edge of Digital Customer Experience, for additional insights and deeper analysis.

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