Last week, I released an update to a very popular report titled “The State Of Customer Experience, 2012.” The research is based on a survey of customer experience pros about their plans for this year. The data mirrored what we hear anecdotally when talking with clients every day and should help you answer the perennial question, "What's everyone else doing?" But beyond that, here are my big takeaways:

  • Everyone is talking about customer experience. Ninety-three percent of respondents said customer experience (CX) is on their company’s list of top strategic priorities. For 28%, it is the top priority. And when we asked CX pros how they plan to build customer-centric culture in 2012, about three-quarters said they expect to run training, education, and internal communication programs.
  • Despite the economy, CX funding doesn’t appear to be on the chopping block. We asked respondents how they expected overall spending on CX to change in 2012. Just more than one-third said they expect it to stay the same, and more than 40% expected their company’s overall spending on CX to grow. That’s good news since, in the past, seemingly soft programs like CX were among the first to go in tough times. Finally, some executives seem to realize that the business impact of customer experience is real, and something they can’t afford to ignore.
  • This year will see lots of data collection but not enough action. When we asked where firms plan to spend CX money other than on culture, the two most popular answers were CX measurement and voice of the customer programs. That’s no surprise given the number of client calls we take on both topics, but I'm concerned that firms will gather all this data and then not use it. That’s happening at many companies today, and I’m not sure it’s going to change. Why? Because when I asked respondents to tell us how their companies perform 25 of the key practices in Forrester’s customer experience maturity framework, I confirmed that, in most cases, CX practices are either ad hoc or nonexistent. All of that data collection has to go hand-in-hand with business processes to use that data on a regular basis, or all of those bits and bytes will go to waste.

To help firms get the most from their 2012 efforts, my research over the next several months will focus on the best way to establish regular processes for monitoring, overseeing, and managing CX quality — something we call "customer experience governance." I’ll be debuting the first phase of this research at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum in New York City on June 26thand 27th and would love to see you there.

Before then, if you have thoughts on CX governance best practices or examples you'd like to share, comment here or email me, and I’ll be in touch.