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customer-experience maturity model

The Customer Experience Maturity Model

James GilbertJames Gilbert | March 4, 2019

You can’t decide where you’re going if you don’t take stock of where you are. An amazing customer experience won’t just happen by accident. To assess your readiness for CX improvement, look to the CX Maturity Model.

In thousands of interviews across industries, with companies of every possible size, we started to notice certain CX patterns emerging. Here’s how to find those patterns in your own organization, so you can assess your CX readiness and take action.

The Six Competencies

In a study done by Forrester, they concluded that a firm must master six specific CX competencies before they can achieve exceptional CX. Those competencies are:

  1. Research – understand customers in-depth by using both qualitative methods, like interviews, and quantitative methods, like web analytics
  2. Prioritization – identify and rank most important customer journeys and interactions, and allocate company resources based on those priorities
  3. Design – use research to guide CX design through the ideation, prototyping, testing, and refining processes
  4. Enablement – provide employees and partners with the right resources to deliver CX, through training, information, tools, and ongoing support across all touchpoints
  5. Measurement – quantify the quality of customer experiences through well-defined metrics that portray actionable insights
  6. Culture – create a system of shared values and behaviors that focus employees on delivering great CX through reinforcement and incentivization

The Six Competencies In Action

How would embracing these competencies look inside of a real-life organization? Following are a few examples of real companies that used these competencies to improve their overall CX model:

  • The HR technology firm Alight focused on their self-service portal, where 90% of HR interactions occur. Within their portal, they zeroed in on seven major life events (having a child, going on bereavement leave, etc.). They prioritized these events because they gleaned that if these events aren’t handled well, they can change the employee/employer relationship forever.  
  • Travelodge created one-page diagrams that summarized employee operations, so that anyone could pick it up and understand how to follow Travelodge’s customer-facing processes. From cooking breakfast to cleaning rooms, the company used enablement to empower all employees to perform to Travelodge’s standards.
  • The inbound marketing software company HubSpot created a “culture code” that aligns job applicants and employees around a set of core beliefs. They also employ a vice president of culture and experience, who is responsible for driving culture as the company grows. Through culture, they ensure that HubSpot’s evaluations, work, and hiring align with the company’s brand and goals.  

The Four Facets of Discipline

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for great CX, you need ways to sustain it for the long-term. This will require getting thousands of people to consistently work together to produce wonderful experiences across tens of products and channels. In other words, great CX management will require:

  • Rigor – effective documentation for standardizing performances
  • Cadence – a plan for how and when to perform CX activities to turn them into ingrained organizational habits
  • Coordination – collaboration on each activity, erasing disjointedness and gaps
  • Accountability – a senior person who can hold teams accountable for carrying out CX activities

How To Plot Your CX Maturity

To gauge your place on the CX maturity scale, you must assess your CX activities in each competency. Based on your maturity in each competency, to decide whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. For each maturity stage, you can then begin to understand what activities you need to pursue to achieve your CX goals. Here is a short summary of each maturity stage:

  • Beginner – Put in place all activities, including staffing, processes, and assets, required to ensure your organization has this competency solidly and rigorously established. Establish this competency if your organization does not yet perform these activities with rigor.
  • Intermediate –Apply best practices in this competency with discipline to be on equal footing with the companies that do it best. You are ready to advance with this competency if your organization performs these activities with rigor.
  • Advanced – Discover cutting-edge tactics for this competency, so you can emulate and experiment with them to ensure your organization maintains its standing among those few that do it best. You are ready to innovate in this competency if your organization performs these activities with all four facets of discipline.

Key Takeaways

Most companies still have major flaws in every CX management competency. As a result, companies can’t understand the quality of a customer’s experience, and they ultimately fail to build customer-focused structures.

You can reverse this threat by properly assessing your CX activities through the lens of six competencies and four facets of discipline. This framework will help you highlight obstacles and opportunities that are specific to your stage of CX development.