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ISG Study Finds Customer Experience a Top Enterprise Priority, Off-Limits From Cost Optimization

A new study by Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm, finds the majority of executives worldwide consider customer experience a top, strategic priority that is off limits to cost optimization efforts.

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“In an uncertain economy when cost-cutting is the norm, the fact that enterprises are protecting customer experience programs from cost optimization shows they understand that solid, long-term customer relationships are truly foundational for growth and success.”

ISG experts will detail the study findings, and join with corporate leaders to discuss strategies for driving customer loyalty and leveraging data to create differentiating experiences, at the ISG Xperience Summit, May 15–16, at the San Francisco Marriott Union Square in San Francisco.

The global ISG Buyer Behavior Study, which surveyed more than 250 senior executives in February 2023, found 48 percent of respondents cite customer experience as extremely important to their organization’s strategic direction, and 53 percent say they intend to “completely protect” customer experience from cost optimization programs.

“Enterprises have successfully created friction-free experiences that are consistent across physical and digital platforms. Now they’re challenged by their customers to not only maintain but exceed that experience,” said Sush Apshankar, practice lead, ISG Data Analytics and AI/ML, and co-host of the ISG Xperience Summit. “In an uncertain economy when cost-cutting is the norm, the fact that enterprises are protecting customer experience programs from cost optimization shows they understand that solid, long-term customer relationships are truly foundational for growth and success.”

Bill Schlough, senior vice president and CIO of the San Francisco Giants, will deliver the day-one keynote address, “The Fan Experience: A Whole New Ballgame,” with strategies for keeping customers engaged even during non-winning seasons.

Among other sessions on day one, Deb Ermiger, vice president, digital enablement, Aflac; Shruti Khatod, vice president, growth marketing at Unilever unit Nutrafol, and Hardy Myers, senior vice president, strategy, Cognigy, will participate in a panel discussion on humanizing digital experiences.

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Day one will also feature the ISG Startup Challenge, featuring three entrepreneurs who will pitch their technology solutions to a panel of judges, with the audience voting on the winner.

On day two, Alex Genov, head of marketing insights and customer research for online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos, will deliver the keynote address, “Giving Customers a Voice in a World Full of Numbers.” The address will be followed by a fireside chat with Ashmeet Sidana, founder and chief engineer of Engineering Capital, who will discuss transformative CX technology.

Also on day two, a panel discussion, “Driving Brand Loyalty and Trust through Customer-centric Ecosystems,” will feature Eric Norman, head of infrastructure architecture and innovation, IHG Hotels & Resorts; Sahil Sabharwal, vice president, enterprise data platforms, American Express, and Clare Megathlin, managing director, software engineering, Alaska Airlines.

“Brand loyalty is driven by consistent, seamless experience, but customers also want businesses to align with their values on topics like sustainability, DEI and the environment,” said Pratibha Salwan, director, ISG Travel, Transportation, Hospitality/Leisure and Logistics and co-host of the event. “Technology is key to automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks, reducing human errors and creating self-service channels, so brands can focus on providing consistent and differentiated services and building trust.”

Salwan noted that 33 percent of respondents to the ISG study said they will protect ESG programs from cost optimization, reinforcing the importance of corporate values.

Day two continues with a panel discussion on strategies for achieving operational excellence and meeting sustainability goals with an intelligent and connected business value chain. The session will feature Google’s Global ISV Lead, Sustainability Denise Pearl; Kraft Heinz’s Global Head of Employee Digital Experience Tope Sadiku, and Comcast’s Executive Director, Supply Chain Strategy and Solutions Raj Rege.

The event will wrap up with a panel discussion about the role employee experience, acquisition and retention play in exceptional customer experiences featuring Rahul Khatod, transformation and self-leadership coach, Genentech Inc., and Paul Cook, president and CEO, CoastHills Credit Union.

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