SYDNEY: Few Australian brands have a well-structured and organised customer experience strategy despite professionals in this field expecting the proportion of self-service customer interactions to grow sharply over the next five years.

Salmat, a specialist in customer marketing and engagement, polled 288 customer experience professionals for a Customer Insight white paper and found that 37% of customer interactions were currently self-service and that figure would grow to 61% by 2020.

But when it asked what marketers were doing to address this, it discovered that that only 22% had what they considered a well thought-out plan in place.

A further 31% said they had a plan but admitted that it didn't always get followed, while 13% didn't have a strategy.

Even among those who did have a plan, only 38% said that it fully addressed all stages of the customer lifecycle.

Sarah Pike, chief marketing officer at Salmat, was critical, saying that brands did not really understand their customers' needs, even though they were employing a range of tools to measure their experience, ranging from net promoter score to customer effort score.

"While most brands use some form of customer experience measurement, for the most part these results aren't used to implement change," she told B&T.

For example, 39% of CX practitioners claimed to use net promoter scores at least annually, but one third of these rarely made any changes as a result.

The biggest challenge, according to the white paper, is keeping pace with emerging technologies.

"Knowing what data to collect, how to collect it through multiple touchpoints and knowing what to do with it are all concerns for CX professionals," Pike noted.

And of the expected growth in self-service, she said that "brands are worried that providing no direct contact with customers will impact loyalty".

She recommended taking a holistic approach, rather than looking at each initiative individually.

Data sourced from Salmat, B&T; additional content by Warc staff