I’m always curious about the latest research on the state of all things customer experience. A few days ago, UserTesting’s 2022 CX Industry Report came across my desk, and I took a run through what they uncovered. The following three topics were touted as the highlights of the report. I’ve shared the topics, plus the highlights drawn from their PR agency.

Human insight is in high demand

A better understanding of the customer has never been more important. Human insight plays a pivotal role in not only creating better customer experiences but helping organizations develop better products and services. The value of human insight is clear as the research revealed that having a dedicated team for UX and CX research increased by 39 percent since 2020. Despite this growth, UX and CX researchers reported that they don’t have the capacity to take on more work. Less than half (44 percent) say that they can keep up with the requests they get for research projects, which aligns with what other teams report as well. A lack of time, resources, and feedback platform were the key roadblocks for these teams when it comes to gaining human insight.

My thoughts: While not an earth-shattering finding (because we saw that customer insights very quickly became the golden ticket during the pandemic), I agree – and my hope is that this finding is here to stay. Customer insights are at the heart of designing and delivering a great experience. Customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer-centricity. This finding directly impacts the other two findings below. That lack of time and resources is a real shame. The problem is that most companies have more data and insights about their customers than they even know; they just don’t know where they are or what to do with them.

Improving CX maturity hasn’t translated into execution (yet)

Meeting the demand for human insight has been challenging but despite this, many organizations reported that they have been improving their CX maturity. Since first being asked in 2020 how mature their organizations were when it came to providing great CX, teams have consistently reported improvements year over year, with a 50 percent improvement between 2020 and 2022. However, the improvements in maturity don’t lead to fully executed CX strategies. Less than 50 percent of all marketers, designers, and product teams reported that they’re regularly getting feedback on key experiences they create.

My thoughts: This finding is confusing. You can’t improve your CX maturity if you’re not getting and using feedback, both from employees and from customers. You can’t improve your CX maturity if you’re not doing a lot of things. So I’m curious if these folks (respondents) really know what CX maturity looks like or what it takes to consider your company mature or more mature than it’s ever been. The building blocks of a CX strategy are many, and maturity doesn’t happen until you (a) get the foundation right, (b) execute on all the parts, and (c) evolve your strategy and execution as you learn and iterate.

CX is both a solution and a challenge for many executives

Executives recognize the value of human insight to create great customer experiences—seventy-eight percent of executives noted that CX is a top area of investment for them. However, expectations and reality are not yet aligned. It was found that 80 percent of executives say they have a strategy in place to improve customer experience, yet only 19 percent of respondents would describe their organization as ‘Visionary’ when it comes to CX maturity. Although executives may think they have a strategy and investment plan in place to help them compete based on CX, their teams are reporting otherwise.

My thoughts: I agree. There’s a disconnect – a huge disconnect. I’ll go back to the CX perception gap (Bain’s delivery gap) to explain this one. (Check out that post for the details on the difference.) In a nutshell, it’s all about numbers before the people. They see ROI on marketing and advertising. They see growth. But they aren’t focusing on retention, CLV, and other metrics that show that the experience is worthy of continued business and loyalty. While CX is a solution (I’ve heard plenty of my clients say that they want to improve the experience because it will be their competitive advantage), it’s a challenge because there are still too many executives who don’t understand it, don’t know what it means, and don’t know how to execute.

Doing research on the state of customer experience today is great, but the report needs more context and more details about the respondents. And quite honestly, I probably would’ve asked the questions differently or asked different questions to get better insights into what these respondents are really saying and doing. It’s a good lesson in asking the right questions so that you can truly interpret the findings in a meaningful way and make informed decisions that are contextually relevant. (That is my new favorite adjective, by the way!)

There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2021, she wrote the manuscript for her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business (Advantage|ForbesBooks), which is now available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.

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