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Digital Customer Experience: An Open Goal?


Many of us reach for sporting metaphors to assist with the communication of business challenges. Once they don’t distract from the core discussion and provided they help illuminate the debate, I don’t see any harm in utilising them as an aid (apologies to non-sports fans!). There are some that immediately come to mind – ‘you are stuck in the blocks’, ‘hit them where it hurts’, ‘taking one for the team’, etc.

As someone who played soccer for many years and as a father who has fulfilled a supporting role on a sideline of a Sunday morning, the one line that you don’t want to be accused of or worst still hear mentioned about your own child:

“you missed an open goal”

Other expressions don’t come close to conveying failure and missed opportunity in a way that those 5 words do. It carries a strong sense that something was firmly within your grasp and well within your ability to achieve, yet you didn’t get the job done.

The Questions Posed

Having spent some time recently reviewing the latest version of the Customer Experience report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (i.e. The value of experience: How the C-suite values customer experience in the digital age), I cannot but conclude that many European organisations are missing a very big open goal when it comes to Customer Experience (CX). The research focused on four key questions:

What importance is attached to CX within companies?

Who leads CX initiatives?

How is the success of CX measured?

Which CX channels are most favoured?

They are a good set of straightforward questions, with the intent of getting behind important areas of interest such as Executive Sponsorship, Return on Investment, etc. The findings from the research show some strong positives but they really highlight massive opportunities ahead for organisations that properly approach this domain of organisational transformation.

Encouraging Signs

On the positive side of the research, I was very encouraged to see that:

  • 66% of European companies say that customer experience has been a “very important” priority over the last three years.
  • Investment is continuing to increase and countries such as the UK are leading the way.
  • 40% say that the CEO leads Customer Experience initiatives within their organisation. Sweden lead the way on this leadership item, with CEO’s leading CX initiatives in exactly half of the companies.

If the CX trajectory is tracking upwards and this is a current snapshot on status, then we should be hopeful that we are starting to get the right level of attention around CX as something that can truly transform a business as opposed to something that just feels good to have in a mission statement.

The Dangers of Complacency

If there was any danger of us getting complacent on the progress made, the following 2 findings from the research provide a sobering reminder:

  • On a global level, the research indicates a level of confusion within companies about who is leading the customer experience drive. Although 72% of CEOs surveyed believe they own the CX initiative, only 27% of other executives believe the CEO leads it.
  • Within Europe 37% do not measure the success of customer experience transformation initiatives.

This is worrying for a number of reasons. CX has suffered a lot from the silo’d structure of traditional organisations and associated culture, which in turn impacts leadership clarity. There can be no confusion in terms of who leads these initiatives. In my personal opinion, it has to be top down and organisation wide.

Putting The Ball In The Back of the Goal

There is nothing new or ground breaking about the advice offered to drive the ball into the back of the goal! Its about being really clear on your CX purpose and getting the basics right:

  • Make CX a priority – Across the board, companies that prioritise future investment in CX believe they are reaping the benefits of better revenue growth and improved profitability.
  • Place the CEO in charge 
  • Find the evidence – More than a third of companies in Europe (37%) don’t measure the success of CX initiatives. This endangers the effectiveness of CX investment.


Companies who prioritise future investment in CX initiatives believe they are more profitable and have better revenue growth than their peers, according to the research. As a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) who works with large corporations on their digital customer experience strategies I don’t just believe that is the case, I know it is!


Graham Fagan is Head of Customer Experience and Multi-Channel at BT and is also a speaker on the IMI Diploma in Digital Business. He leads the development and go to market strategy for digital customer experience services at BT. He has worked in the ICT industry for 18 years and during that time he has held positions in business transformation, architecture, commercial marketing and digital strategy.

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