The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently conducted a survey of senior-level executives sponsored by Genesys. While it shows that face-to-face communications are still the most important customer experience channel, this is likely to change within the next three years as online support channels continue to grow.

Survey respondents expect the five most important customer experience channels in three years will be:

  • Online assistance support – 39%
  • Face-to-face communications – 37%
  • Social media – 35%
  • Web self-service – 35%
  • Customer insight – 29%.

While the survey showed a coming decline in the importance of offline channels, like telephone and paper-based operations, it also showed a decline in the importance of email-based communications by 3%, making it the only online channel expected to decrease.

Although social media is only tied to round out the top three most important customer experience channels overall in the next three years, its expected increase of 8% makes it the fastest growing customer experience channel measured.

The survey data further provides interesting insights when sorted by the respondent’s industry. By industry, the importance rankings of the customer experience channels changes to:

  • Consumer Goods –
    • 55% web self-service
    • 35% social media
    • 30% face-to-face
  • Retailers –
    • 54% social media
    • 46% face-to-face
    • 35% web self-service

Interestingly, both commercial and retail bankers see web self-service as more important than face-to-face and social media, while manufacturing and professional services companies view face-to-face as the far and away most important customer experience channel.

The survey results also show a clear bias based on the respondent’s job function. As expected, IT professionals view the various online channels as the most important, while respondents in more managerial and administrative roles believed face-to-face communications would remain vital. While those respondents in marketing and sales could see the importance of face-to-face and web self-service, they placed a higher importance on telephone operations than other job functions did.

When asked whether they measure the success of customer experience activities, the results again vary by industry. Respondents reporting measurement of success include:

  • IT Executives – 72%
  • General Management – 58%
  • Finance – 57%
  • Marketing and Sales – 47%

Of those respondents who reported not measuring customer experience successes, the most common reasons were not having access to data showing a correlation to customer experience activities and no way to automate the process.

Of course, 42% of these executives have increased customer experience investments by at least 10% in the previous three years and more than half plan to do so in the coming three years. When asked why they have or are planning to make these investments, the survey showed:

  • Improved customer retention – 33%
  • Increased sales – 28%

Granted, respondents from larger companies tended to place a higher emphasis on increased sales than improved customer retention.

With social media continuing to grow in importance from a customer experience standpoint, it’s likely that many of these corporate investments will be to broaden their initiatives with regards to social media and other digital channels. This makes improving the social media footprint of a company something worth thinking about now.


MarketingCharts. C-Suite Sees Social Rising In CX Importance. June 23, 2015.