Recently, we came across a report that greatly surprised us all. In the annual Top 10 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions report (put out by the Financial Brand site) for 2019, customer experience (CX) did not claim the number one spot as it usually does. Instead, survey respondents declared that the use of data, artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics was their top priority in the coming year…. over customer experience. Take a moment to let that sink in; we had to.

So this got us thinking about the role of global CX and how business tech trends may be shaping it unintentionally. No one can deny the importance of data in an organization, but to say that retail banks are more committed to data, AI and analytics than they are to improving CX seems like a giant step backward. So we dug into it further, and here’s what we found.

Consider the role of CX

Customer experience is incredibly important to all businesses, especially banks. In fact, it’s been found that 89 percent of companies today compete primarily on the basis of customer experience and it’s been said that, “CX is no longer just a discipline; it is the basic ingredient for growth.” And providing a great customer experience is hardly just a lofty ambition, but actually crucial when it comes to increasing revenue.

An article from the Harvard Business Review goes so far as to cite that customers who had the best past experiences spend 140 percent more than those who had poor past experiences with a company. That’s a big deal and can appear the difference between growth or stagnancy. So it’s clear that the level of customer experience your brand provides can be directly connected to revenue, and can also go a long way in customer retention (which of course further solidifies your brand reputation and yields even more revenue).

Now consider the role of tech & data

But, despite the obvious emphasis on CX across all industries, the Financial Brand’s report shows that technology and data are trumping it in priority. This isn’t just a fluke in one survey, either.

Gartner also recently reported that around 30 percent of CMOs’ budgets for 2018 and 2019 would be allocated to marketing technology, while CMOs would dedicate just about 18 percent of their budgets to CX initiatives. That’s a pretty big gap and one in which technology takes precedence again.

It seems that these current business tech trends are revealing a premium being placed on data and futuristic technologies, while CX is still being prioritized – but quite a bit less.

Consider the interplay between tech, data, and CX

We’ve assessed these trends, and have come to the conclusion that these reports, while initially shocking, are not comparing apples to apples. All of these initiatives are interwoven, and nearly impossible to segment entirely.

Think about it this way. When a business, like a retail bank, invests in a new technology platform that integrates all of its customer data, makes services more accessible to customers and increases data security… who wins? The customer, of course. Or when that same bank uses advanced analytics and AI to better provide customized offers and services to customers at the right time… who wins? The customer again.

So when reports look at CX as an individual priority for businesses, they’re generally looking only at overt, standalone CX initiatives. But they’re not including the positive impact of smart tech investments, and how prioritizing data and AI usage can ultimately elevate customer experience (which it absolutely can).

Of course, data and technology will never be more important than CX, nor should ever be prioritized above it. But when technology and the data it gives us can improve the customer experience, it makes sense that it would be a top priority.

Without better tech and data, we couldn’t provide a truly personalized, optimized customer experience. So, businesses need it all; just with the right intentions and execution. We can help you get that. Contact us any time to learn more.

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