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10 Proof Points – Why Customer Experience Is the Next Big Thing

By Laura McLellan | October 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

If you’re bombarded as much as most marketers are with pushed content, then you’re probably skeptical of one more claim for the “next big thing”. Every marketing technology and service provider, every specialized association and publication, and every “independent” pundit has at one time or another proclaimed the “next big thing” you need to pay attention to – and of course invest in. Even when they present proof points, I take the claims with a grain (sometimes a heaping teaspoon) of salt.

So hearing that the next new big thing all marketers need to prioritize in their 2015 budgets is end-to-end customer experience, I thought “yup, just another set of projects in a marketer’s already bulging at the seams budget.” Even though it was a respected Gartner colleague who said it, and even though logically it made sense, I wasn’t about to jump on the bandwagon without proof.


Digging for Data

I’ve admitted before to being a data junkie. Always have been, always will be. So I went looking for evidence in primary research surveys, in interviews with C-level execs, in publications and blogs, in software and service spending forecasts, you name it. And I found lots of it – in fact a lot more than I expected to find.

One big problem is that the term “customer experience” means different things to different people – people in the same function and in adjacent functions. But let’s not go down that rat hole – I picked a commonly used definition and said “good enough”.

Next came the analysis to evaluate what was most credible – who said it, how many people said it, what kind of people, in what kind of companies, when did they say it, how did they phrase it …. you get the idea. I focused on what large and very large companies in sufficient numbers said as the basis, supplemented with name-brand company executives’ comments. I wound up with over four dozen strong proof points.

10 Proof Points

To cut to the chase, here is a subset of the proof points – a list of 10 findings from primary research surveys – that convinced me customer experience is indeed the “next big thing” that requires investment in people, process and technology for the foreseeable future.  The list is in alphabetical order by the firm who conducted the research. Note that some research requires registration. Gartner research requires subscription.

1.   Accenture – 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Survey (n=13,168 consumers)

“85 percent of customers are frustrated by dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them, 84 percent by companies promising one thing, but delivering another; and 58 percent are frustrated with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel.”

2.   CMO Council, in partnership with SAP – 2014 – Mastering Adaptive Customer Engagements (n=319)

“Marketers believe that customer centricity—and the customer’s belief that they are engaged with a customer-centric organization—is critical not just to the business, but also to the individual marketer’s success.”

“39 percent of respondents agree that the very definition of customer centricity is being established at the very top of the organization with the president/CEO”

3.   Gartner – 2014 – Gartner Survey Finds Importance of Customer Experience on the Rise — Marketing Is on the Hook (n=200 responsible for customer experience, revenue > $500M)

“89% of companies surveyed plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016 “

“65% of companies have the equivalent of a chief customer officer — they report equally to the CMO and CEO”

4.    Gartner – 2014 – The 2014 Gartner CEO and Senior Executive Survey: ‘Risk-On’ Attitudes Will Accelerate Digital Business (n=410)

“The most important technology-enabled capability investment to support growth over the next five years is digital marketing, followed by customer experience.”

5.   Gartner – 2014 – Gartner’s 2015 Marketing Spending Survey – Customer Experience Leads Investments (n=315 responsible for marketing budgets, revenue > $500M) [to be published October 2014] 

“The top marketing technology investment for 2014 was customer experience”

“18% of the total marketing expense budget was spent on customer experience in 2014”

“#1 innovation project for 2015 is customer experience”

6.   Gartner and The CMO Club – 2014 – CMO Leadership, Accountability & Credibility within the C-Suite (n=105) [to be published October 2014]

“CMOs say leading the customer experience cross-functionally at all touch points is the top investment over the next 2 years”

7.   IBM – 2013 – The Customer-activated Enterprise (part of the Global C-suite Study) (n=4,183 CXOs)

“As the digital infuses the physical, and vice versa, organizations are transforming the customer experience. Nearly seven in ten CxOs recognize the new imperative …”

“ 39% of outperformers have developed a fully integrated digital-physical customer strategy”

8.   IBM – 2013 – Stepping up to the challenge:  CMO insights from the Global C-suite Study (n=524 CMOs)

When asked to what degree they’ve implemented “Integrated customer touchpoints across physical and digital channels”, 16% said “large extent”, 38% said “somewhat”, 46% said “limited extent”

9.   McKinsey – 2014 – The digital tipping point (n=850 CXOs)

“Of the six digital trends we asked about, executives expect the largest share of their digital growth in the coming years will be from digital customer engagement,…”

“Respondents most often rank digital customer engagement as a top strategic priority, too, and report that current spending patterns mirror digital priorities”

10.  Oracle – 2013 – Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era (n=1300)

“93% say that improving CX [customer experience] is one of the top three priorities for the next two years; 97% state CX is critical to success”

Gartner clients can see more of the proof points on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders website. Free marketing research is available at


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