Van Valdez (Associate Research Director, CX, IDC Europe)
Van Valdez (Associate Research Director, CX, IDC Europe)

While customer experience (CX) and marketing leaders fully understand the importance of having a robust and well-managed customer experience management platform, too many fall foul of some key pitfalls in successfully implementing one. Many resources are being directed at this — our research has found that organisations invested over $210 billion in CX technology in 2020. With this much at stake, why do so many of them fail? We examine three of the most common hurdles:

  1. Poor integration with legacy systems
  2. Underestimating the role of cultural engagement and training
  3. Poorly defined success measures

Poor Integration with Legacy Systems

Outdated technology is among the biggest concerns for 4 in 10 business leaders in achieving their business goals — second only to securing the right talent, according to our research. Yet, when it comes to implementing a customer experience platform, few organisations have the luxury of a straight “rip and replace”. This is certainly the case more often than not in larger institutions with deeply rooted plumbing in place.

The challenge many implementers have in embedding a new platform is in finding a way for the old to work with the new. Well-managed customer experience is powered by good data. With customers’ data often residing in multiple silos across the organisation, there are benefits to be gained from a CX platform being suitably plugged in, to make the most of these disparate data sources and create a unified view of the customer. Many organisations, such as HSBC, are successfully using API strategies to create the connective tissue necessary to draw data from legacy systems to power new digital platforms.

The right systems integration partner with a robust mapping of the legacy infrastructure can be invaluable in laying out the right integration plan and saving headaches in poorly synchronised systems down the line.

Underestimating the Role of Cultural Engagement and Training

Any platform is only as good as its user base. With the levels of investment involved in implementing CX platforms, the organisations that enjoy the most success are those that have equally invested time and resource into an engagement programme that educates its people on the objectives, and ultimately the benefits, of the new tools and arms them with the necessary training to make full use of them.

The people aspect of any digital transformation should not be underestimated. I have seen platforms implemented into organisations that have over time become encumbrances rather than the CX facilitation tools they were originally designed for. Much of the cause for this can be put down to insufficient bedding in of the aims and objectives of the programme and not ingraining the platform into ways of working. This has resulted in less than ideal engagement levels with staff. Low usage leads to weak data. Weak data erodes the credibility of the platform and therefore usage. And the cycle continues until, as time goes on, the platform is reduced to a non-value-adding step in the process. As much as two-thirds of sales reps’ time is spent on non-revenue-generating activities and many have called out CX management tools among their biggest frustrations.

A bad workman blames his tools, as the idiom goes. Invest in the engagement and training necessary to operationalise your customer experience management platform and give it its best chance of success.

Poorly Defined Success Measures

It seems obvious to say that demonstrating success from any digital programme relies on a clearly defined set of success measures. But how to determine what those success measures are? This is a clear concern for many enterprises today — as our research finds, measuring CX is one of the biggest challenges for one in three businesses.  

It’s easy enough to pick a basket of measures that seem to be “the right things” from a CX perspective — the challenge lies in drawing lines between internal processes and external customer outcomes and making these success measures both meaningful and actionable.

Robust customer journey mapping and process mapping are essential in creating an understanding of how processes affect customers and therefore which components of the journey need the organisation’s attention — and therefore what needs to be measured and tracked.

Measuring an internal SLA without verifying its direct impact on a customer achieving its goal means efforts are misdirected towards improving the wrong processes. For instance, what would it mean to target query resolution within 4 hours? What about 2 hours? What is the return on the effort it will take to shave off those 120 minutes?

On the other hand, focusing measurement on a high-level customer outcome (like NPS, effort or satisfaction) without analysing what aspects of experience drive these scores means teams are chasing targets without a clear plan as to what will actually move the needle. Does a service team with, say, a target of increasing NPS from +40 to +50, know exactly the areas of the journey to focus on that have the highest likelihood of delivering those 10 points?

However, just because “what gets measured gets done” does not mean objectives should be restricted only to what can be measured today. In the course of managing and optimising customer experience, there will be outcomes worth pursuing but for which there may not yet be readily available measures.

Take customer lifetime value — undoubtedly, in the pursuit of tailored and personalised customer engagement powered by deeper insights into the customer’s needs and motivations, increased lifetime value must be one target outcome. Calculating a single reliable quantum for customer value based on a consolidation of data across multiple sources is notoriously challenging, meaning this metric does not find its way onto many CX dashboards. But the importance of measures such as this in quantifying the financial return on customer experience is the very reason companies like Starbucks and Netflix devote ample effort towards ensuring these are part of a programme’s suite of success metrics.

Getting a CX platform approved, financed and launched is challenge enough, more so with the pressures of competing for finite budget against other business priorities. The many levers that need to be focused on to achieve a successful launch means that some things get left on the sidelines. Be cognizant of the biggest pitfalls and make the necessary allowances to ensure these are fully addressed to maximise your programme’s chances of successful long-term implementation.


If you want to learn more about CX or if have any questions, please contact Van Valdez or head over to and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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