Article | 8 min read

How to prioritize your CX budget

The landscape of customer experience has changed drastically — here's how your industry has been affected.

By Ciera Nahale, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Solutions

Last updated May 6, 2021

The impact of the last year on customer experience will be long-lasting. Customers have adapted their expectations, teams have learned how to operate remotely, and businesses are ramping up tech adoption as they look for new ways to engage customers while staying connected to each other.

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, companies plan to invest more in customer experience across the organization. Improving IT security, internal collaboration, offering customer service across multiple channels, and flexible technology are all high priority touches for companies that have adapted to new workflows and processes. Knowing this, what should companies do next—and how?

Below, we break down high-priority touchpoints by industry paired with a deep dive into each solution so that you can deliver great CX without breaking the bank.

Deliver great CX within your industry

Financial Services & FinTech

The finance world’s shift to digital has been a long time coming, but its speed accelerated during the pandemic, which means we have a lot to look forward to.

  • While 54 percent of financial services companies saw budget increases for CX in 2020, 21 percent faced decreases.
  • 70 percent anticipate having more budget to invest in CX technology in 2021

So how can financial service companies invest in CX, increase revenues and reduce costs? By investing in technology that opens up more customer channels and internal collaboration tools. To illustrate this, we can think of transforming the loan origination process as one example. McKinsey & Company says digital collaboration tools can shorten the loan processing time by 15 to 40 percent, reducing the cost per customer by at least 15 percent

When a borrower begins their discovery, messaging channels on a website or in an app allow customers to pose queries with agents in real-time. With messaging, conversations are persistent, so when a customer comes back days later to begin their application, they can continue where this conversation left off. Chatbots can guide applicants through forms, while internal collaboration tools streamline the internal back and forth by keeping these conversations and application status in one unified workplace.

Check out our whitepaper on CX in FinTech

Retail & Ecommerce

Retail and e-commerce were early adopters of new technology in the face of the pandemic, with brands in China pivoting online in the earliest phases of the lockdown. This set a huge precedent for retailers globally, with many asking themselves how to make the most of their digital presence.

  • 33 percent faced budget decreases for CX in 2020, compared to 32 percent that saw budgets increase.
  • 50 percent anticipate having more budget to invest in CX technology in 2021.

How should retailers invest in CX?

The rapid acceleration of digital transformation in retail has revealed that many innovations we’ve become familiar with, like click and collect personal shopping, and proactive outreach, have fundamentally changed various aspects of consumer behavior. So much so, that according to McKinsey, over 75 percent of consumers will change something meaningful about the way they shop. That could be switching brands, or retailers, or channels—or even all three! Companies need to be prepared, not just for commerce online, but for omnichannel service on new channels to extend your ecommerce reach.

That is where Zendesk can not only meet this new demand but do so while exceeding customer expectations, turning detractors into advocates, and increasing retention. Our integrated messaging solution scales with your business as mobile users outshop the desktop. Zendesk helps agile retailers mature a typical digital interaction from simple text to data-informed conversations, enhanced with dynamic imagery, curated product carousels, and proactively communicated offers. Over 78 percent of consumers say that personally relevant branded content increases their purchase intent—and that personalization can increase AOV (average order value), reduce cart abandonment, and lower customer effort, all while growing loyalty.

Check out our whitepaper on CX in ecommerce and retail


No industry is immune to digital transformation. As manufacturing adopts new technologies and channels over legacy software and old habits, CX is becoming a high priority:

  • 44 percent have seen 2020 CX budgets increase, compared to 33 percent that reported budget decreases.
  • 2021 looks brighter: 54 percent of manufacturing companies anticipate having more budget to invest in CX technology.

How should manufacturers invest in CX?

In the industrial market, expanded service offerings such as tech support, training, and maintenance are the way of the future. These new profit streams are opening up recurring revenue business models in the industry. But according to Accenture’s Blueprint for Success, 57 percent of manufacturers lack strong service capabilities, often due to legacy product-first mindsets. Zendesk helps companies build a customer-first mindset supported by customer-first technology.

Our own manufacturing customers leverage the power of connected devices to receive real-time machine data, like alerts when preventative maintenance is recommended for a client’s machine. With Zendesk, proactive messaging can notify users of upcoming maintenance. The combined use of data and outbound notifications can reduce warranty and maintenance costs while increasing customer satisfaction, keeping everyone informed and happy.

Check out our whitepaper on CX in manufacturing


Health, wellness, and medicine took center stage this year as healthcare companies and hospitals faced enormous pressure to adjust to the changing nature of the pandemic. Many healthcare organizations grappled for the first time with the need to improve CX at a vast—and virtual—scale, but not all have had the budget to invest in the virtual tools they need.

  • 20 percent of healthcare companies saw their CX budget decrease this year, compared to 30 percent whose budgets increased.
  • 2021 looks a little brighter, 48 percent anticipate having more budget to invest in CX technology.

In 2021, it’s all hands on deck to administer vaccines and treatments to patients around the globe. Where healthcare companies and government bodies do not invest in better digital technologies, vaccine distribution is an administrative nightmare, raising issues of long wait times and even poor accessibility on online registration platforms.

Zendesk’s vaccine management solution streamlines the vaccination process for both recipients and healthcare staff. Live chat and AI bots can help field questions around general FAQs, eligibility status, and more. When a patient does become eligible, messaging can notify your patients and bots can guide them through scheduling. Outbound notifications can then remind patients of upcoming appointments as well as when it’s time to schedule their second shot.

Check out our whitepaper on CX in healthcare

Technology & Software

Practically overnight, tech companies leaped lightyears ahead in their plans for digitization, distributing the workforce and the rapidly evolving needs of their customers and users. But in a difficult economy, not all have the budget to invest in the digital tools they need to stay ahead of the CX curve.

  • 39 percent saw their budgets increase for CX in 2020, while 39 percent faced budget decreases.
  • 58 percent anticipate having more budget to invest in CX technology in 2021.

What should software companies invest in for better CX?

Software companies are in a prime position to take advantage of secure internal collaboration technology that enables employees to work together from anywhere in the world. As support tickets spiked for tech providers, more software customers integrated with other parts of their organizations–like product, marketing, and engineering–to triage support and better understand their customers.

Integrating bug tracking software like Jira into their agent’s workspace means support tickets linked to bugs can automatically be routed to engineering teams. Zendesk’s internal collaboration on tickets also allows engineers to communicate resolution updates back to agents directly on the original ticket. Investments in workflow automation increase efficiency across the whole organization, reducing handle time and ensuring better, more efficient routing of support queries.

Download our free whitepaper on CX in technology and software

Media & Entertainment

If one pandemic experience could be called truly universal, it’s been spending more time consuming media, thanks to new streaming services and apps that deliver content suited to our unique tastes and preferences. While not everyone learned the latest TikTok dances or binged every episode of Friends, we did spend a lot of time looking for safe ways to stay entertained. The media and entertainment industries, however, still struggled in a difficult economy.

  • 30 percent faced budget decreases for CX in 2020, while only 27 percent saw a budget increase.
  • 43 percent anticipate having more budget to invest in CX technology in 2021.

How should media and entertainment companies invest in CX?

With the rapid growth in over-the-top (OTT) content providers, retaining customers has become a priority. It’s crucial that streaming services and content providers improve their customers’ experience by being available on every channel at any time. Customers are engaging on new channels all the time. Social messaging has taken the CX world by storm, and media companies should take heed. Users of legacy customer support software may have difficulty integrating new support channels, with conversations and tickets spread across systems. This creates a fragmented customer experience while making it more difficult to stay on top of customer data. Disparate systems can also put customer data at risk, which is not ideal when dealing with information like billing details.

The good news is that platforms like Zendesk allow companies to support multiple messaging channels using a single centralized platform that makes it easy for support teams to collaborate, while maintaining a consistent customer experience. A conversation originating on any support channel can be consolidated into a single conversation thread. Since agents use a centralized platform, it’s easier to secure and manage customer data. This is consistent with what we heard from our customers:

  • Media firms with the happiest customers are more than three times as likely to have invested in omnichannel communication
  • Media firms with the best CX results are 1.8 times more likely to be messaging with their customers

Download our free whitepaper on CX in media and entertainment

Sudden shifts in customer needs and business operations revealed the importance of a robust customer experience. And while companies must work within their resources to adopt new technologies and processes, there’s a risk of falling behind higher-performing peers as customer expectations rise. To see how you stack up, check out our free assessment below.

Forget multi-year plans for digital transition—the time to act is now

Companies are rapidly adding digital tools to help them scale their operations and better serve customers.

Forget multi-year plans for digital transition—the time to act is now

Companies are rapidly adding digital tools to help them scale their operations and better serve customers.

See how your CX tech stack adds up