Customer experience professionals with advanced CX management in place are almost 4x as likely as those without to have exceeded their department’s top business goal by a significant margin in 2019. So these “CX leaders” are probably worth an examination. Adobe’s latest Digital Trends report [download page], produced in collaboration with Econsultancy, provides some insight into their priorities this year.
When asked to choose three digital-related areas, the most commonly-cited top priority was social media engagement and analytics, with more than 1 in 4 (28%) choosing it as such. Following this, content management (25%) and targeting and personalization (25%) were each chosen by one-quarter of these respondents.
These findings should not come as any big surprise. Previous studies have shown that social media analytics is seen as an essential tool by the majority of marketers and that social media as a channel hits a sweet spot between effectiveness and ease of use. Meanwhile, most marketers take a strategic approach to managing content and also believe that personalization should play a bigger role within their approach. The Adobe survey also shows that more than one-third (36%) of CX leaders are delivering personalized experiences in real-time.
Another common priority for CX leaders in 2020 is video content (23%). Likewise, the performance of this medium appears to be strong and growing in a range of areas, from its use in Instagram Stories and targeted premium ads, right through to the use of video in B2B as a lead generation tactic.
Talent and Privacy Cause Concern in 2020
Adobe’s survey compared CX leaders with the rest of the survey sample to identify differences in their approach. When looking at main concerns, the results show a large gap in worries about the economic climate. Indeed, when asked to choose an area that poses the most significant concern for 2020, significantly fewer CX leaders listed fears of recession (19%) compared to the mainstream (29%), perhaps feeling that as long as they outperform the competition they will be poised to succeed no matter the environment.
Instead, CX leaders appear to be most concerned with attracting and retaining talent in digital / data / CX-related areas (23%) – an issue less of a priority for the others (18%). Given that some 7 in 10 marketing teams were expecting to grow last year, the competition for skilled talent is unlikely to go away, particularly as marketers regularly add new technology into their processes. In an effort that might counter talent issues, some 39% of CX leaders provide face-to-face training for job specialties.
Another area where CX leaders seem slightly more worried relates to consumer concern about data and privacy (19% CX leaders, 16% mainstream). This jives with a new study by Pew Research Center, which finds that some 7 in 10 Americans now feel their personal data is less secure than 5 years ago. In addition to consumer sentiment, increasing regulation (such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, which has now come into force) means that businesses must be more mindful of data issues in order to avoid significant penalties.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Despite the concerns regarding data, its use is clear in terms of the advanced technology that CX leaders are employing.
Simply put, CX leaders are ahead of the pack when it comes to AI and machine learning. More than one-third (36%) currently use such technology, with a further 28% planning to invest in this area in 2020.
That being said, AI is not a panacea. A consumer study by Invoca found that many consumers have been left frustrated by the technology in the absence of human interaction. Marketers should therefore keep the whole experience in mind before leaping to deploy such tools.
About the Data: Figures are based on a global survey of almost 13,000 marketing, advertising, e-commerce, creative and IT professionals working for brands and agencies. CX leaders are those with “advanced customer experience management in place that’s aligned across strategy and technology.”