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The State of CX Teams: 5 Learnings From Our Peer Survey

We surveyed 180 CX professionals to dig into challenges, opportunities, and the state of CX teams.

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Do you ever wonder what your peers in the Customer Experience profession are up to at other companies? Do they face the same challenges you face? From team size, to reporting structure, to areas of focus, the CX role continues to evolve and looks different from company to company. Wouldn't it be great if we had a better understanding of what CX looked like? Or better yet, what we could do to elevate the impact of our CX efforts?

We heard from 180 CX professionals from businesses small and large, B2B and B2C, and across a wide range of industries. Here, we present what CX programs look like from company to company—and department to department.

Introduction

Who we heard from

Of 180 respondents, 43% identified their role as: “I lead the team responsible for holistic customer experience.” Another 27% focused on customer support experience, 25% on customer success, and 18% on customer advocacy and storytelling. 

The majority of our respondents identified their business as focused both on B2B and B2C (51%), while 30% focused on B2B only and 19% focused on B2C only. 24% worked at small companies with 1–49 employees. 30% worked at companies with 50-499 employees, and 19% came from large companies with 5,000+ employees.

Most of the surveyed CX professionals have been in their current role for 1–2 years (29%), 3–4 years (20%), or 5–6 years (13%). Fewer said they were in their role for over 11 years (12%) or less than 6 months (9%).

Among industries reported, the Technology sector was most represented, with 22% of respondents hailing from this industry. Next were Financial Services (9%), Manufacturing (7%), Consulting & Research (7%), Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals (6%), and Education (5%).

Takeaway 1

CX professionals don’t fit in a one-size-fits-all mold

There is no standard “CX leader.” While they’re unified in their goal of providing great customer experiences, CX professionals can sit in different departments and have different job titles. While 24% of surveyed CX professionals report to the C-Suite (24%), most sit on functional teams such as Marketing (21%), Customer Support (9%), Strategy and Business Operations (9%), Customer Success (7%), Product (7%), Sales (4%), and IT (2%). 

Our data also revealed that where they sit within the organization has an impact on CX professionals’ responsibilities. 

Chief Customer Officers (CCO) and other CX leaders reporting to the C-Suite are typically responsible for cultivating a culture of customer-centricity, with 84% selecting this responsibility. Those reporting to the C-Suite are also responsible for action programs to improve product or process (73%) and measuring the impact of CX (66%). 

When CX falls under marketing, the top priority shifts to establishing or expanding customer feedback programs (79%). For Customer Support professionals, measuring the impact of customer experience (retention, growth) is the top responsibility (85%). Meanwhile, CX teams that report into Product are far more likely to list establishing an action program for improving product or processes as their top duty (85%).

The correlations we found between responsibilities and reporting structure could indicate a bias in what CX leaders focus on: the data shows that CX leaders on functional teams are more likely to perform responsibilities that skew toward meeting the goals set by their department, while CX leaders reporting to the C-Suite are more likely to focus on holistic programs such as building a customer-centric culture.

CX isn't a one size fits all

Takeaway 2

CX professionals say metrics are their top challenge

Asked to identify what challenges they face, CX professionals across all departments selected the following top three:

  • No clear metrics defined or measured                               32%

  • Connecting CX data with operational data                       29%

  • Continuously proving value                                                  24%

Interestingly the top two challenges, defining metrics and connecting CX data to operational data, are both critical to successfully proving value, the third biggest challenge reported by CX professionals. Having defined metrics in place is essential to measuring (and communicating) the impact of your CX program. Connecting CX data with operational data not only helps you identify and correct issues with a holistic view of the customer journey, but also map CX initiatives back to revenue to build a business case or show ROI. 

CX leaders need to show impact so they can secure much needed resources and earn a strategic seat at the table, but having the right metrics in place is often the missing first step. Learn more about the best metrics to use here.  

While this summarizes what we’re seeing across the board, challenges also vary depending on reporting structure. Below, you can view the top challenge our research revealed per department.

Chart of top CX challenges filtered by department reported to

Takeaway 3

CX teams are extremely lean

We commonly hear CX leaders feel overwhelmed in their roles, and it’s no wonder—1 in 3 say they run a 1-person operation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that percentage increases for small companies: nearly 50% of CX teams at small companies (1–49 employees) have just one person. Even at the largest companies (5,000+ employees), 1 in 4 have only one or two people working on CX.

For any CX program to succeed, you need employees to help bring initiatives across the finish line. CX leaders are tasked with setting strategies for the organization and also executing against them, which requires close collaboration with many cross-functional partners—a big job for one person to carry out alone. But in the world of CX, small, scrappy, get-stuff-done teams are more prevalent than fully staffed teams. And while an understaffed team might get by, to truly elevate your CX initiatives, you’ve got to invest resources in them.

1 in 3 CX teams has just one person

Takeaway 4

CX program maturity correlates with resources invested

So how does the size of your team impact the maturity of your CX program? According to our data, team size does correlate with CX maturity—which we’ve broken out into 6 stages, from the least mature (Stage 1: Ignore) to the highest level of maturity (Stage 6: Embed). 

For teams of just one, we see CX maturity skew heavily toward the early stages. 44% said they are at Stage 2: Explore, meaning the organization is just starting to investigate what it needs to do to boost CX. Another 7% are at Stage 1: Ignore, where CX isn’t yet viewed as a crucial competitive differentiator.

On the other hand, CX teams of 10+ lean towards the mature end of the scale. The majority, 42%, are at Stage 4 of GetFeedback’s 6 stages, Operationalize (meaning operational processes are starting to be re-designed based on customer insight and other CX metrics). Another 19% are at Stage 5: Align, where being customer-centric is reinforced and maintained throughout the company. Only 1% have reached the final level, Stage 6: Embed, where CX has been integrated into everyday decisions and practices.

Meanwhile, among companies with 2-5 CX team members, the majority are in Stage 3: Mobilize, where execs were on board with improving CX and work had begun to develop a CX strategy.

Learn more about the 6 stages of CX maturity and find out where your organization falls here.

Takeaway 5

CX professionals have to prove their value again and again

To get the budget, headcount, and resources they need to succeed in their efforts, CX leaders need to win over executive leadership and continuously reinforce impact. 

But how do you demonstrate consistent impact to executive leadership without the right data? As we revealed earlier, the #1 challenge across CX teams is a lack of defined metrics to measure. Without a defined set of metrics, organizations lack a north star to guide efforts and drive cross-functional collaboration to impact customer experience. 

Perhaps that’s why 37% of CX professionals are unable to agree with the statement: “My company understands the role of CX and the value I bring.” 

The good news? That leaves 63% of CX professionals who say they agree or strongly agree that their company understands the role of CX and the value they bring. 

It’s difficult to truly boost customer experience if the organization doesn’t have your back. But, if we keep the conversation going, support one another, and share best practices, we can continue to elevate and demonstrate the value of CX to an ever-expanding audience.

37% and 63% stat image

Conclusion

Final thoughts

Ultimately, this peer survey provides a glimpse into the state of CX today. There are commonalities across CX teams in areas. But there are also places where we each face our own hurdles. 

As everyone’s experience is different, we welcome your input. Do the challenges and realities presented above ring true in your experience? Are we missing something? Let’s keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn or Twitter

Want more firsthand insights on CX? Catch our LinkedIn livestream series, where CX leaders will share their challenges, opportunities, and success stories.
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