Customer experience maturity: Assess where you are now to get to where you want to be
Five imperatives to strengthening your customer experience programs to keep pace with customers’ changing needs.
While we all know excellent customer experiences (CX) will help attract and retain customers, the definition of a “great experience” changes over time. That’s because competitive offerings, technology, and consumer expectations are ever-changing. Which means customer experience programs must keep pace.
At the recent GetFeedback 2021 CX Impact Summit powered by Momentive, customer experience industry experts and leaders shared their strategies for strengthening customer experience initiatives. Here are five takeaways from the event.
1. Regularly assess your customer experience maturity
At the session, CX Chump or Champ, Momentive Chief Customer Officer Ken Ewell led a discussion with panelists about great—and not so great—customer experience scenarios.
Myra Golden, customer experience designer of Myra Golden Seminars, described “scheming to get customers to reach out.” While the idea of “scheming” might seem manipulative, Golden gave the example of a champ move by flooring company Armstrong Industries. Customers’ new flooring comes with Armstrong’s number printed on it. For instructions on how to remove the number, customers must call a toll-free number, which puts them in touch with the customer care department.
While it’s a snap to remove the phone number with soap and water, Armstrong wants customers to call so they can establish a connection with them. On the call, Armstrong representatives offer care tips to help customers get the most out of their new flooring, creating an opportunity for deepening engagement.
At the more immature end of the spectrum, customer experience representatives collect customer feedback and share it only with their individual teams. It’s a chump move, explained CX expert Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CEO, Experience Investigators™ because the result could be missed opportunities to serve the customer throughout their journey.
To fully realize CX potential, customer experience professionals must intentionally improve their program’s maturity level. Here’s where a resource like the GetFeedback maturity assessment, which we co-developed with Walters, can help you assess your current level and how to move up.
Customer experience is multi-dimensional, and each dimension contributes to the health of your program. The assessment scores your program on nine dimensions, and you can download playbooks for each dimension for pro-tips and strategies:
2. Consider the end-to-end experience from the customer’s perspective
Is it a champ or chump move if different teams, with specific customer experience goals, focus on improving their part of the customer journey? “Chump,” said Walters.
A recent Salesforce study of 15,600 consumers and business buyers around the world found that 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. However, 54% said that they believe sales, marketing, and service groups do not share information and do not talk to each other. This could result in customers being asked the same question by different departments or receive different answers.
“This happens when we have goals that are so team and departmentally focused that they’re missing the overall organizational goals of customer experience,” explained Walters. That’s why it’s critical to have a centralized view of the customer. “We all need visibility into who our customer is and how we can best serve them.”
The customer journey mapping playbook explores the five maturity levels of mapping, and provides actionable steps to help organizations advance from one level to the next. Perhaps you’re using customer journey maps but you’re still focused on individual team efforts (level 2). Focusing next on key customer touchpoints and building a cross-functional coalition will help get you to level 3.
3. Get leadership behind your customer experience efforts
Nicola Vote, head of customer insights and advocacy at McAfee, spoke at CX Impact Summit and listed leadership buy-in as the first, most important dimension of customer experience. “If the leadership—and I mean, the full leadership team—are not really buying into what you’re doing, you can struggle,” she said.
Unfortunately, many customer experience professionals are challenged to convince executive leadership to believe in and actively foster customer-centricity. Competing business priorities and differing ideas about CX often lead to a lack of alignment and progress.
Demonstrating that great customer experience contributes to existing business goals and strategy is one way to win leadership support. Another is to give leaders tools that enable them to more easily adopt customer-centric practices.
4. Build seamless collaboration across your organization
Walters emphasized that teams must collaborate to ensure that the end-to-end customer experience is consistent and supported by their organizational goals. “The best customer experiences are intentional, proactive and positive,” Walters said.
Walters added that 67% of customer churn could be avoided if customer issues are resolved during the first interactions. “We want to make sure that when we approach feedback strategy, we’re looking at the entire customer journey,” said Walters. “We’re centralizing the data and we’re making it available to everybody throughout the organization.”
The Employee Experience playbook offers in-depth recommendations for empowering all employees to have ownership of the customer experience. By the time an organization is ready to move to level 4, for example, individual employees understand how they support specific phases of the customer journey and how that fits into the overall customer experience. At this level, organizations are investing in CX tools and training to support a positive employee experience.
5. Take action on customer feedback in a way that leads to real results
Just talking about customer feedback is not enough, said Nicola Vote of McAfee. “You need to engage employees … have them understand the customer; understand the stories.” McAfee uses the GetFeedback platform to centralize, prioritize, and deliver the actionable insights that excite “action teams” and help them prioritize issues to address.
Once you’ve listened to your customers and understand their needs, you must take action, fast. Closing the loop on critical feedback as it happens is vital if you want to avoid churn. Acting quickly on feedback requires processes that range from setting up automatic triggers that notify support agents of a disgruntled customer, to providing new tools for scalability, or establishing employee training programs.
The Listen, Understand, and Act playbook offers guidance for upleveling how organizations listen to customers, understand their needs and take action to improve the customer experience. Today, your organization may be at level 1, where feedback may be used primarily to justify internal goals and projects. The playbook demonstrates how to advance to level five, where customer feedback is ongoing, dynamic, in real-time—and is integrated and acted on almost immediately by your organization.
True CX champs have a growth mindset
As Ken Ewell pointed out, CX is an ongoing maturity journey. “We’re never going to get to the destination, but we're always going to be making progress,” he said. CX chumps blame each other and stay internally focused, with the lack of external focus leading to lack of action on feedback. Champ moves? “Focusing on collaboration and bringing an outside-in perspective to the table is the secret sauce,” said Ewell. Another big one? “CX champs keep on learning.”
Take GetFeedback’s free CX maturity assessment to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in your program.
Sara Staffaroni is a principal content strategist at Momentive.