ServiceNow Workflow Quarterly: The Customer Issue


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for significant shifts in nearly everything we do, as well as new business imperatives—to reduce expenses, transition workforces, and digitally transform the enterprise. Though cutting costs may have been the intuitive first response to the COVID-19 crisis, retaining customers is the existential one.

In February and March of 2020, ServiceNow and ThoughtLab surveyed 600 C-level executives to learn how companies in five major sectors are digitizing their customer experiences, and the resulting impact on their businesses. The respondents came from 12 countries and represented five industries. Job titles included CEOs, COOs, CIOs, CHROs, and board directors.

The survey, which canvassed executives in financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, telecommunications and the public sector, showed North American companies are furthest along in their digital transformation journeys. However, European and Asian enterprises are picking up the pace. The survey also suggests that the roadmap to digitizing the customer experience remains constant across industry sectors. Based on the findings, ThoughtLab and ServiceNow recommend business leaders first create a customer experience strategy aligned with business goals and install a customer management system to support that strategy. Next, identify key customer touchpoints and use them to build an immersive personalized experience. And finally, make sure your team has the skills to support a digital customer experience.

Not surprisingly, the survey also showed profitability and return on investment grow as an organization’s digital transformation matures. In addition to the overall findings, we segmented the respondents into three groups—leaders, intermediates, and beginners—based on 11 key dimensions of a digital customer experience dimensions and found:

  • Leaders are far more likely than beginners to report high or very high returns on a wide range of technology investments.
  • 37% of leaders report better profitability per customer as a result of their CX efforts, compared with just 25% of beginners.
  • 76% of current CX leaders expect to make big improvements to CX in the next three years, compared with 16% of beginners.

The study makes clear that the biggest returns from CX initiatives don’t come from initial moves, but from having the people, processes, and technologies in place to provide a consistent, superior experience over time. Nearly half of leaders report a moderate to large ROI from building an immersive, personalized customer experience, versus just 22% of beginners.