Working Up the CX Maturity Curve

Companies today are operating in an experience economy, where customer experience (CX) serves as the number one competitive differentiator. Traditional indicators of industry leaders, such as product, innovation, and price, fail to create the lasting emotional connections that yield customers for life, so getting CX right is a high priority. It's a challenge many businesses are willing to tackle head on. Forrester Research's U.S. Customer Experience Index revealed that 14 percent of companies significantly improved their CX Index scores over the past year.

That said, achieving exceptional CX is not easy, and there's no single path to achieving it. Every business is different, with unique needs, customers, and priorities. For example, a customer for a mobile phone company might define a positive experience as proactive notifications when he's eligible for a free upgrade, whereas a banking customer might want a seamless and intuitive app interface. A simple and effective approach to building better experiences, no matter what business you're in, is to look at CX in terms of a maturity model. Separating advancement for CX into several stages, each with its own objectives and metrics, enables organizational leadership to better measure progress and growth.

If you're looking to build a maturity model to help guide your CX advancement strategy, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Make CX Company-Wide

Modern CX doesn't exist in a bubble. The way customers engage and communicate impacts every aspect of the company. Each department—sales, marketing, contact center, product development—needs to be customer-centric, infusing their needs at every stage and within every process.

Because of this, building a maturity model requires buy-in from across the organization. That means sourcing input, aligning priorities, and setting achievable metrics that are holistic. The alternative would mean alienating certain parts of the business whose concerns would go unheard, stifling overall progression. This needs to start at the top, with a clear organizational structure that shares CX responsibilities and defines cross-departmental roles.

CX is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Modern customer journeys aren't defined by a single, outstanding moment that created a customer for life. Rather, they're a patchwork of innumerable micro-moments and touchpoints that take place across a diverse range of channels. It's that persistency that drives the best experiences.

Businesses need to take the same approach to building a maturity model, not a single one-and-done activity but an ongoing effort that tracks toward reasonable, but meaningful benchmarks. One example is implementing a technology solution that supports effortless experiences, with the right analytics bedrock to understand why a customer is connecting with the company. Another is launching a system for feedback management incorporating both customer and employee feedback to inform better decision-making in real time.

Consider New Types of Metrics

Traditionally, customer experience has been mapped to efficiency-based metrics like average call handle time and call resolution rates. This doesn't account for the increasingly emotions-first KPIs CX leaders are leveraging. For example, simply because a business was able to quickly resolve a customer service inquiry doesn't mean they're any closer to understanding whether the customer feels positively or negatively.

Putting structure around these previously nebulous concepts is a powerful way to shift perceptions and ultimately create brand advocacy. Good metrics to keep in mind include: customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and even larger business metrics like customer lifetime value (CLTV).

Planning for Long-Term Transformation

In some ways, the path toward CX maturity can be seen in line with a path toward any other transformation, like digital. They're both fundamental changes in processes that leverage technology to enable businesses to better understand themselves and their customers and create exceptional value in the least amount of time. Furthermore, they both require a targeted, strategic approach, as opposed to a single, massive project. And, they need to be powered by the right intelligent cloud solutions. By taking the time and understanding the needs of core audiences throughout the business, companies can climb the ladder to CX maturity. Start your CX maturity journey byevaluating where you are so you can set a goal, measure, iterate, and improve.

Gayathri "G3" Krishnamurthy is director of product marketing at NICE inContact.