On the threshold of augmented customer experiences

Since the pandemic, digital disruptors have thrived and there’s been a revolution in CX operating models. C-level responsibility for customer experience (CX) has doubled in the last year. There’s been a transformational shift in organizational and customer behaviours, and a substantial improvement in automation. Our findings show that industry leaders and disruptors have made significant strides towards augmenting their CX capabilities, focusing on the all-important human factor and implementing technologies that enable greater agility and growth.

2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report

Close up on an eye looking away

Top 3 improvements consumers say organizations should build on


While CX is considered a differentiator by 90.9% of organizations, it is viewed as a primary differentiator by:

Enabling a global cloud-connected CX center for Henkel

'Our CX team can, as the internal service provider of contact center services, deliver any requirements within weeks rather than months, thanks to our newly consolidated global service platform.’

Read the case study here

Marek Klampár, Senior Consultant — Customer Experience, Henkel

2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report graph

Figure 1: VoC feedback on CX approaches
To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? n=1,402
2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report chart

Figure 2: Organizational view of CX as a primary differentiator
To what extent do you agree or disagree that CX is a primary differentiator for your organization? n=1,359


While the pandemic has accelerated improvements in CX delivery, it’s also exacerbated existing problems. Customers don’t rate CX capabilities as highly as organizations do.

Despite the positive steps taking during pandemic, customer ratings of CX delivery are lower than what organizations think. There’s a disconnect between CX strategy and execution, and between what customers want and what organizations think they want. A significant 43.8% of consumers say CX is at a detractor level, whereas organizations believe detractor ratings to be almost half that, at just 24.6%.

While the majority of organizations recognize that customers, employees and business functions are equally important to customer journey design, most are not using customer insights and collaborating across departments to augment CX delivery.

Big data capabilities will play a major role in driving CX value. Organizations with a more mature data analytics capability are quickly moving to capture both structured data and unstructured data to go beyond what customers are telling them and understand what they’re actually doing.

2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report graph 


Figure 3: Comparison of customer and organizational ratings of CX
Organizations: How do your customers rate your CX capability? n=1,359
Consumers: Thinking about when you contact the following types of service providers, how would you generally rate the level of customer service you experience? n=1,402

Understand that the customer journey is about choice

Organizations may be doing what they think is right, but if they don’t involve their customers and employees in the process of customer journey design, and use their feedback to improve CX delivery, they won’t get the results they want.


of organizations are using customer insight to inform service and product business improvements


recognize a voice of the customer (VoC) program as crucial.


Enterprises can no longer view automation in CX as optional – they must embrace it rapidly to remain relevant.

More CX processes are now being managed through automation and there’s been a high consumer uptake of digital channels: 9 in 10 organizations said the pandemic accelerated CX automation.

Organizations say they’re getting their value from automation – over one in five state that robotics and AI are exceeding expectations – but that’s not necessarily reflecting in improved CX. Only 34.7% of consumers say they’re fully satisfied with digital and/or automated CX solutions and just 17.9% rate digital/self-service CX at a promoter level.

Around a third of consumers are not discouraged from using digital/self-service contact channels, they’d simply rather engage at a human level.

Chatbots let Credit Agricole speak to their customers on their own terms.
‘We understand our customers and we didn’t want to force them to interact with us in a way they weren’t comfortable with. We needed a solution that allowed us to stay true to our principles but took some of the load off our contact center.’

Read the case study here

Iga Stępień, Product Owner Channel Excellence & Omnichannel Orchestration, Credit Agricole Bank Polska 2021 Global CX Benchmarking report graph Figure 4: Reasons for customer resistance to digital/self-service channels
What, if any, factors discourage you from using digital/self-service contact channels (e.g. internet, mobile app) when dealing with a company? n=1,402

Top 3 reasons digital/self- service systems fail to meet customer needs:

  1. They only offer limited capability/services.
  2. They misunderstand my enquiry or send me to the wrong place.
  3. They aren’t personalized enough.

Augment the human touch 

The number one factor discouraging consumers from using digital contact channels is simply that they’d ‘rather speak to a human’. To get promoter scores up, automation that supports the human is key.

RPA is passé, giving way to hyperautomation that brings together AI, machine learning, virtual agents and RPA in one package that ushers in the true value proposition of automation to CX.


Enhance CX through EX

While most organizations agree that human-led support remains a critical CX channel option, only half are investing in tools to support CX agents.

2021 Global CX Benchmarking Report Figure 5: Outcomes of evolving CX strategy
In the last 12 months, which, if any, of the following can your organization evidence as outcomes from your evolving CX strategy? n=1,359

From intelligence to execution

Customer choice, hyperautomation and a hybrid workforce form the new foundation for growth

We’re now starting to embark on a human-centered and augmented customer experience strategy, where customers have greater choice and control, and organizations that really listen to and respect their choices are rewarded with increased spend and share of wallet.

Find out how you can lead from the new CX baseline by downloading our 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmark Report below. This year's Report includes research from global organizations as well as global consumers, and commentary from our regional CX experts.


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