6 must-know customer experience technology trends

Our customer experience technology trends survey of 250 North American tech buyers and influencers reveals that the CRM to CX migration is well underway.

As TechTarget moves into the post-CRM era of customer experience management and strategy and technology platforms, we're in good company -- based on a January 2019 survey on customer experience technology trends we conducted, many companies are either exploring or executing CX improvement projects, and they're increasing budgets to fund new technology platforms to support them.

More than 250 North American IT leaders responded to the customer experience technology trends survey. The results give us great insight into customer experience management and the pain points for which readers need expert advice. Here are the six major findings.

1. Marketing and IT lead CX initiatives

In the past, IT may have been the big problem-solver when it came to choosing and deploying technology platforms. However, it's a team approach with CX.

Survey respondents were asked to choose up to three departments that were the most successful at leading CX initiatives in their organizations. Marketing was the most common answer (42%), followed closely by IT leadership (40%), customer service (36%), operations (26%) and sales (25%). This is a far cry from the sales-driven technology initiatives of CRM's early-2000s adolescence.

2. Salesforce leads CX mind share ...

While its stock symbol remains CRM, the house that Marc Benioff built is more associated with customer experience management than any other vendor.

While its stock symbol remains CRM, the house that Marc Benioff built is more associated with customer experience management than any other vendor. According to respondents, who could select more than one vendor, 53% associate CX management with Salesforce, followed by Microsoft (40%), IBM (27%), SAP and Oracle (each with 26%), ServiceNow Inc. (21%) and Adobe (20%).

3. ... but Microsoft gets more looks

However, when we asked what software vendors IT leaders have on their evaluation lists for upcoming CX projects, Microsoft won out with 40%, followed by Salesforce (34%), IBM (20%), Adobe and ServiceNow (each with 18%), Zendesk (16%), Oracle (15%) and SAP (13%).

4. CX budgets are here and increasing

Almost two-thirds of respondents said their companies have allocated budget for CX initiatives. Of those, 61% indicated that spending on CX initiatives will increase in the next 12 months and 32% said it will remain the same -- leaving very few who said they were investing fewer resources in CX.

When asked to select all that applied, the technologies that respondents most frequently chose were customer analytics (38%) and AI chatbots (35%), followed closely by customer data management and CRM (both 29%), and Digital experience management and personalization (both 28%).

Interestingly, if you combine the voice of the customer and customer feedback management, they add up to 29% -- which tells us that companies are investing in data to improve their CX.

survey results chart

5. Cost, integration the biggest barriers to CX

What's holding back CX projects in these early days as companies explore the feasibility and steps to completing them? Respondents checked all that applied and 50% listed either cost or lack of budget, followed by integration of disparate tools (20%); security concerns and lack of available skills, talent and expertise (both 17%); lack of executive buy-in; immature technology; or not identifying the right use case (all 13%).

6. CX technology buys a group effort

Respondents to the TechTarget survey, as well as recent Salesforce research, indicated that marketing leadership typically leads CX initiatives, which makes sense -- marketing automation campaigns are the headwaters of CX. But it takes a village to determine what IT tools to use to support CX initiatives.

Our survey respondents, who chose all the options that applied to them, indicated that those involved in the CX technology purchasing decisions included C-level IT leadership, directors and staff (a combined 53%); CMOs or marketing managers (a combined 49%); and CEOs, COOs and CFOs (21%). They were followed by groups such as customer service and sales leadership; web, data and product development staff; analytics officers; and the emerging C-suite position of chief customer officer.

About the survey: We received 255 responses from North American decision-makers. About two-thirds indicated that their jobs are 50% or more IT, while the rest indicated their positions are 50% or more line of business. About a third make final recommendations or decisions for IT projects; the rest initiate projects or evaluate and research technologies.

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