European leaders are underinvesting in customer experience (CX) as they see CX improvement as a lower priority than their global peers. This is a mistake.

According to our Forrester Analytics Business Technographics® Priorities And Journey Survey, 2021, 44% of leaders in APAC and 38% in the US tell us that improving CX is a high or critical business priority. Only 29% of European leaders agree.

Of those European organisations that are prioritising CX improvement, improving digital experiences is the clear priority. This comes as no surprise given the mass digitisation of everything from banking to entertainment to grocery shopping that we’ve seen in the last 18 months. But European businesses grasp multichannel complexity more than their global peers, with 27% prioritising improving omnichannel or cross-channel customer experiences compared with only 17% in the US. We see this reflected in our European consumer and employee surveys, with Europeans — and particularly southern Europeans — placing a higher value on face-to-face experiences than UK or US consumers.

So European CX leaders potentially face more complex, cross-channel CX challenges than some of their global peers, yet in the last 12 months, European leaders are more likely than their US counterparts to tell us that the pandemic has decreased their efforts to improve CX. Right when customers need a step change in CX, and just as we are opening up businesses again and starting to face the reality of managing hybrid CX — like consumers using their smartphones to check into a restaurant or book a grocery delivery slot — European firms are de-prioritising CX investment.

This is reflected in the actions European leaders are taking and the projects they are initiating. European organisations lag on CX basics, like journey mapping and persona development. European leaders are more likely than those in either the US or APAC to tell us that implementing such CX basics is a low priority or even not on their agenda at all, yet they risk deluding themselves, with fully 57% of European leaders telling us that they “excel” at using CX techniques to drive critical customer outcomes.

European leaders must prioritise CX improvement. Let me show you why.

Globally, firms that say CX is not on their agenda or is a low priority; 49% reported revenue growth in 2020; and 22% reported double digit growth. Impressive in a global pandemic? Maybe — until you consider that 67% of firms that tell us improving CX is a high or critical priority reported growth in 2020 and 38% showed double-digit growth, with one in 10 reporting 20% or higher growth.