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Despite increasing investment from brands in marketing technology, nearly half of consumers say brands aren't meeting their expectations when it comes to the customer experience (CX), and even fewer remember the last time a brand exceeded expectations, according to a global survey commissioned by Acquia. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

Today's consumers have more options than ever before and high expectations of the brands they choose. Leave them unsatisfied or betray their trust, and they"ll go elsewhere. As the marketing landscape becomes more competitive and demanding, marketers need the very best insight, tools, and resources to compete. Yet, companies and data remain more siloed than ever.

The findings of Acquia's inaugural global survey on the state of the CX pose interesting questions about the disconnect between consumers and marketers, as well as the return on investment gained from an ever-growing inventory of marketing solutions. More than 5,000 consumers and 500 marketers across Australia, Europe and North America provided input for the report, 'Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019'. It exposes several disconnects - that marketers rate their effectiveness much higher than consumers, that consumers are skeptical of how their personal data may be used by brands, and that consumers expect personalized customer experiences. It also shows that earning a customer's loyalty is critical, and the need to earn and keep their trust through CX is an imperative.

"The bar for customer experience has been raised. Marketers have expanded to new channels and adapted new technology to keep pace with consumer expectations. Yet our research found that technology has become more of a barrier than an enabler for a great customer experience," said Lynne Capozzi, Acquia CMO. "Closing the CX Gap is about arming marketers with new insight, so they can better review and evaluate their tech stack, people, and processes and plan for the new year. Now is the time for marketers to take back control and execute an open approach that provides the right level of personalization and data privacy to drive long-term customer relationships."

The report examines the CX gap through the lens of three frames: people, technology, and data. Results uncover several areas where marketers and consumers don't share the same view of the world. Key findings uncovered in the report include:

  • People
    Although half of the consumers surveyed believe brands are failing expectations for a good CX and two-thirds could not recall when a brand exceeded expectations, marketers don't share this skeptical view of their own work. In fact, 87% of marketers feel they are hitting the mark in delivering engaging customer experiences. Yet 4 in 5 of the same marketers polled felt disappointed by their own experiences as consumers.
  • Technology
    Nearly three-fourths (74%) of marketers globally feel like technology has made it harder, not easier, to offer customers personalized experiences. Overwhelmed and inundated with often-siloed tech, getting a clear view of customers often proves challenging. Sixty-five percent of marketers said complex technology makes personalizing the CX difficult, yet 62% of marketers surveyed globally plan to spend more on marketing technology in 2019.
  • Data
    The data also shows that consumers prefer a personalized brand experience, but they"re skeptical about whether brands have their best interest at heart - and they"re concerned about the personal information brands hold about them. Marketers overwhelmingly indicated they"re confident in their data privacy practices with respect to personal information, with 85% feeling that they are doing a good job ensuring compliance with data regulations.

"We have the opportunity to break the mold with today's strategic marketing initiatives, capitalising - albeit thoughtfully - on mobile applications, chatbots, conversational interfaces, email, social, and so many other touchpoints to create personal, meaningful, and valuable experiences for customers," the report concludes. "Blindly investing in martech isn't the answer. Fundamentally, marketers and consumers aren't on the same page when it comes to experience or data privacy, and that needs to change."