It’s not easy to please customers who embraced digital customer service channels during lockdown and now have high expectations of every enterprise they deal with. Organizations that haven’t kept up with this trend are likely to lose ground against their competitors.

Excellent customer experience (CX) fosters long-term customer loyalty while having a measurable effect on the bottom line. And, as NTT’s 2023 Global Customer Experience Report shows, it has become a priority for C-suite executives, accompanied by investment in technologies that support their CX strategy.

Of the CEOs we interviewed, 92% agree that CX improvements will directly affect their net profit, and 95% of organizations already have a specific C-suite executive responsible for CX – up from 75% in 2021.

CX does not exist in a vacuum

The rapid rise of AI-enabled tools and services is revolutionizing the full spectrum of customer service. Organizations now cite AI as the top enabler for CX in the next three years and are investing in building their AI-led capabilities – including by automating many tasks previously performed by humans.

There is also growing acceptance among customers of AI-based communication channels such as chatbots: our report shows that customer satisfaction for AI-led CX interactions is now on a par with customer satisfaction for human-led interactions.

The rising importance of EX

Organizations are also prioritizing and redefining employee experience (EX) as they look to differentiate their CX and grow. According to our research, EX has evolved to become the number-one C-suite priority. CEOs want to enable and empower their employees with technology and training that allow them to work more efficiently and productively.

According to our report, only 43% of employees who interact with customers directly are currently based in the office full-time, while the remaining 57% work remotely, either full-time (30%) or as part of a hybrid working arrangement (27%). It is therefore essential for organizations to focus on employee mobility to ensure that all employees, wherever they’re working, can do their jobs and collaborate and communicate easily with their team members.

As EX improves and evolves, it has a clear effect on CX: 96% of organizations agree that their CX and EX strategies must be closely aligned to maximize their impact on enterprise growth.

Cloud and cybersecurity underpin CX

All of these changes are underpinned by the widespread migration to the cloud, which enables innovation and access to new AI, CX and EX platforms.

Enhanced and continually updated cybersecurity is also crucial to protect sensitive employee and customer information (including financial and transactional details) at all times.

What are the top performers doing?

The 2023 Global Customer Experience Report spans 25 countries in five regions, and we interviewed 1,442 decision-makers and influencers across a range of business roles.

Our findings give insight into how top-performing organizations are doing in terms of their CX and EX strategies.

From the organizations whose responses were included in this report, top performers were categorized as those whose revenue increased by more than 10% in the last fiscal year and with a rise of more than 15% in their operating profit (as a percentage of revenue) in the same period.

What we found is that these top performers are more than twice as likely as underperformers to be very satisfied with their CX capabilities, and, in the context of EX, they are 91% more likely than all organizations in the report to have significantly increased their employee satisfaction levels.

They are also far more likely to have office spaces suitable for hybrid work (61% of top performers, compared with 26% of underperformers).

Top performers are also focusing intensely on using new technologies to spur business growth. They are 10 times more likely than underperformers to have significantly increased their IT spending, and they’re 25% more likely than all other organizations to already offer top-rated CX enabled by AI.

They’re also 42% more likely than underperformers to report higher levels of automation in CX because of cloud technologies, and 46% more likely to report improved security and legal compliance for the same reason.

Our report concludes that all organizations need to embrace new technologies to evolve their CX, supported by newly prioritized EX – just as the top performers are doing. This is best achieved with the help of a managed service partner like NTT with the expertise to guide organizations through the new world of intelligent CX and EX.

This article includes contributions by Hugues Treguier, Vice President: Product Marketing and Go-to-Market at NTT.