CX maturity playbook: Technology and tools

Actionable insight to uplevel your use of technology and tools for optimizing the customer experience.

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How to use this playbook

This playbook features one of the nine key elements that we measure in our customer experience maturity assessment: technology and tools

Here we provide an overview of the element's five levels followed by actionable next steps to advance from one level to the next.  

If you have yet to assess your maturity, we suggest you take our assessment now, identify your current level of maturity for technology and tools and return to this playbook for how to move forward based on your score. 

The insight provided is in partnership with Jeannie Walters, CX expert, CEO and founder of Experience Investigators™.


Technology and tools

When it comes to delivering a great customer experience (CX), in a time where customers’ expectations and needs are constantly changing, having the right technology and tools is imperative. 

The term technology and tools casts a wide net, including everything from the right CX management solution and a robust tech stack, to internal resources like training and education, all made available to empower employees at taking the right, strategic action to better your organization’s approach to delivering superb customer experience.

A mature organization has technology and tools that allow its teams to scale and pivot quickly in order to meet evolving customer needs. This means they use solutions that are founded on agility—easy to implement and modify—and enable all employees to collect customer feedback where and when it matters most, so they can spot trends in real-time and take swift, impactful action. 

The North Star for technology and tools occurs when all business insights tools and technology—customer experience management, customer relationship management, Human Resources management, etc.—are integrated to provide a truly holistic view of the business. No decision is made without the consideration of the customer, the employees, and the business goals. 

Such a state is achievable through strategic action, which you can start taking today with the help of this playbook. 

The five levels below are defined based on general processes, rules, and expectations of technology and tools. We recommend you start with the level that our assessment scored you as. 


Level 1 to Level 5

Level 1   

What it looks like 

At this stage, there are no CX-specific tools or technology available to assess and improve the customer experience. Instead, customer feedback is collected, sorted, and evaluated manually.

For instance, Customer Support agents might capture feedback from incoming service calls and log it into a spreadsheet, or Marketing might track social media brand mentions by capturing the text into a Word document. 

At Level 1, leaders collect feedback only at some touchpoints in ad-hoc ways, so there is no alignment around the customer journey, an overall CX strategy, or a true Voice of the Customer (VoC) program

In other words, nothing is done from a centralized CX tool, and technology is not leveraged to deliver results at scale. 

Instead, employees are asked to use some basic tools to track internal efficiencies—like Contact Center inbound call volume or social media brand mentions—all of which aren’t connected to customer experience. As such, employees don’t have visibility into the customer’s overall journey and can’t properly recognize what actions a customer has taken, what communication they’ve received, or what interactions they’ve had with your brand. 

You might hear employees make statements such as:

Sometimes during a marketing campaign, we ask customers for feedback. But it’s not really part of our regular process, and we don’t store that information anywhere special or put it into use after the campaign is over. It’s sort of all over the place right now. — Marketing Leader

Priorities to advance to the next level   

Moving from Level 1 to Level 2 happens when leaders begin collecting feedback via the use of a basic survey tool(s) specifically to track certain customer experience metrics for their team.

To move forward, you’ll focus on:

  • Basic survey tool(s)

  • Team education

How to take action

Step 1: Identify a basic survey tool(s) that’ll empower teams to reach their specific customer experience goals and priorities 

At Level 2, leaders and teams are just beginning to establish more clearly defined goals for collecting the right feedback. And although it’s not recommended, at such an early stage, it’s common to have multiple survey tools used throughout the organization. 

To advance from Level 1 to 2, just focus on making survey tool(s) available for teams. Different tools offer different features, so when suggesting a survey solution, it’s important to be mindful of each team’s needs. 

Some questions to consider when looking for the right survey tool:

  • What are the basic features your team needs? 

  • What budget is available?

  • Does the tool provide best-practice templates (based on writing, survey design, and logic)?

  • Will teams be able to easily collect the type of feedback—like Net Promoter Score® (NPS®), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES)—that they need? 

  • Is there an easy integration with your CRM (for teams like Sales and Customer Success that are already using a Customer Relationship Management solution)? 

  • What are the reporting functionalities? 

  • Will the customer data export in a way that’s easy to share (like an online dashboard)?

Consider what features are most important and evaluate tools based on not just today’s priorities, but tomorrow’s. For example, you might not prioritize a CRM integration today, but will you need it in the near future? 

Knowing what features are important for the future will lead to better decisions around technology now. 

Step 2: Educate teams on how to use their survey tool(s) so they can confidently rely on it to improve the experience 

As mentioned before, survey tools vary in their features and structure. Leaders and their teams need to feel empowered to leverage whichever survey tool is provided.

The best way to do this is to include the team throughout the selection and onboarding processes. Here is how: 

  • Get their ideas and feedback about what features are most important. This will help employees feel engaged and, consequently, better understand why a particular survey tool is selected in the end. 

  • Invite employees to share what manual processes they wish were automated. Remember, many teams at Level 1 are still evaluating data based on manually entering and sorting with spreadsheets. 

  • Once the survey tool is selected, hold a group onboarding session and assign individual onboarding tasks to help employees feel comfortable using the technology. 

Introducing a survey tool can empower leaders to evaluate customer feedback faster and with more actionable insights. Over time, once teams see the results of strategically surveying customers, they will be more eager and confident to use the survey tool to its full potential.

Level 2   

What it looks like 

At this stage, different teams are using basic survey tools—most likely, there are multiple tools being used with the organization, leading to inconsistencies and a lack of a centralized view for evaluation and insights.

Feedback collection is done in siloes, so the holistic customer journey isn’t reflected or improved. Instead, each leader is deciding how to use their particular survey tool to make small improvements at touchpoints relevant to their team.

Customer experience metrics—like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES)—are reported at a team level, and leaders individually share hand-picked data points about specific touchpoints, not the overall customer journey. As such, reporting looks different from one leader to another. 

Employees are still relying on manual processes and there is very little automation, most likely around inventory, product returns, and service requests. Customer processes aren’t supported by automated triggers, so it’s easy for some process steps to slip through the cracks since it’s mostly manual. 

For example, instead of allowing customers to automatically manage their own orders via a website or app, a customer has to call Customer Support for a return approval, package and submit the return, and then wait to receive confirmation that it was received. Customer Support agents don’t have visibility into this pending process, so they could frustrate customers who are looking for a return status update. And when the Customer Support agent ends the call, it’s up to them to ask the customer for feedback and prompt the survey, instead of it happening via an automatic trigger, so it’s often skipped by the agent.

You might hear employees make statements such as:

I use a survey tool to send customers a CSAT survey after Customer Support interactions. I know Marketing is using another survey tool to collect feedback after events, but I don’t know what metric they are tracking customer satisfaction or something else. — Customer Support Leader

Priorities to advance to the next level   

Moving from Level 2 to Level 3 is possible when the use of surveys is centralized: Instead of each team deciding what tool to use, there is one single customer feedback solution for the entire organization. 

To move forward, you’ll focus on:

  • One customer feedback solution 

  • Employee empowerment

How to take action

Step 1: Implement a single customer feedback tool to gain consistent insights and alignment across the entire organization 

Customer feedback is more powerful when it is consistently collected and evaluated from a holistic customer journey standpoint. If separate teams are using different feedback tools, it creates inconsistent reporting and understanding of the customer experience.

At Level 3, customer experience is a priority for all leaders and teams; together, they start to work on improving the holistic customer experience. And CX metrics are tied to business values and goals. 

As such, to advance from Level 2, leaders must collaborate to agree on one universal customer feedback solution. And they need to prioritize the features most important to the entire organization. 

Common features in most customer feedback solutions include:

At this level, companies might choose a feedback solution lacking the integration of operational data, customer lifecycle data, and customer journey maps, purely because teams are not ready to use those functionalities—typically these are found in Level 4 of maturity. However, there is a chance that those measurements and insights are collected elsewhere in the organization, and are not yet centralized under one solution. 

Using one centralized feedback solution will facilitate better understanding across teams to empower improvements across key touchpoints in the customer journey.

Step 2: Empower employees to optimize their use of one feedback solution by educating them around best practices

Part of the rollout of a universal customer feedback solution is to educate employees on best practices, features, and reporting. 

Many feedback solutions provide resources for product training on their site and knowledge base, as well as social platforms like YouTube. 

To find high-quality training for employees:

  • Leverage the solution’s technology knowledge base for articles, how-to guides, and case studies that showcase how to use the product.

  • Search YouTube and other platforms for reviews, video tutorials, and helpful tips from actual users.

  • Join online user groups and communities to learn from peers.

And don’t forget about internal resources: Your Learning and Development (L&D) team can be a great resource for creating specific training around using the feedback tool.

In many cases, you’ll want to customize training and educational content for employees based on their role, such as those designing and sending surveys versus those who will be reviewing the results. 

A centralized tool means a centralized survey experience; be sure to include resources and cover topics that’ll empower employees to deliver consistency. 

Some topics to consider for training include:

Understanding how to use this singular feedback solution will empower employees to collect the right feedback, quickly gather key insight, and take swift action. 

Level 3   

What it looks like 

At this stage, teams use a single feedback solution across the organization to collect and report customer data in a centralized dashboard. Also, certain automation is available, such as targeting and automated triggers, allowing for a more streamlined workflow for taking action. 

Customer data is better integrated into consistent reporting, and leaders are able to prioritize taking action based on the automated, real-time communications they receive through the universal customer feedback solution. 

Dashboards are visible to all leaders, plus some key members of their teams delivering real-time information in personalized views. Technology is used to consistently evaluate customer feedback and provide teams with a centralized view of the organization’s Voice of the Customer program

You might hear employees make statements such as:

Any time a member of my Success team receives negative customer feedback, I am notified immediately via email. This is great because I can quickly connect with the team member and together we can work on a swift, real-time response to remedy the situation. — Customer Success Leader

Priorities to advance to the next level   

Moving from Level 3 to Level 4 requires all CX-related technology and tools to be integrated into an agile customer experience management (CXM) tool that’ll streamline and automate your customer experience efforts. 

To move forward, you’ll focus on:

  • Automation and integrations

  • Training for CXM tool and tech stack 

How to take action

Step 1: Scale strategic action via automation and the integration of customer data with operational insight

In Level 3, there might be several tools used for different organizational goals. These might include:

  • A customer feedback tool to collect and report on outcomes directly from customers. 

  • A customer journey mapping tool to identify and visualize customer journeys.

  • An operational dashboard to track measurements around efficiencies and organizational success metrics.

  • A customer relationship management (CRM) solution for Sales and Customer Success to best manage their interactions with potential and existing customers.

To deliver a truly seamless journey for customers, and move to Level 4, all of this data needs to be in one place. Proactive customer experience management means collecting and analyzing—holistically—large amounts of data on a constant basis. And then, acting on the insight you find to improve, at scale, the customer experience across touchpoints. 

Each agile customer experience management solution offers different features, so it’s important to ensure the integrations your organization needs are available. Consider where data lives now at your organization. It might include:

  • A CRM system, like Salesforce.

  • Social media management platforms.

  • Customer support platforms, like Zendesk.

  • Customer communities.

  • Digital analytics.

Automation, via tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), can empower teams to quickly understand large-scale data so they can make smart decisions that will improve the individual customer journey.

Find an agile customer experience management solution and tech stack that suits your organization’s needs and CX strategy priorities. Here are some automation concepts to consider:  

An agile customer experience management solution will allow you to see the interactions a customer has with your brand regardless of the channel. It also can help drive better decisions by quickly spotting trends and predicting customer behavior and needs.

Step 2: Train employees to maximize the benefits of your agile customer experience management solution and tech stack 

At Level 4, employees are engaged with the CX strategy and understand how their individual roles influence customer experience success. 

So, to advance to this stage, employees will need guidance around how to best use the CXM tool; they need to better understand customers, act on insights, and report on data in meaningful ways.

To get employee buy-in and optimize the use of your agile customer experience management solution and tech stack, help them get the most out of training and education.

Consider rolling out employee training with several techniques to increase usage and comfort levels quickly. It could include: 

  • Ongoing training around specific use cases, like accessing individual customer data, identifying different views of the data, and how quantitative data and qualitative data can be used together for insights.

  • Peer sharing sessions where employees present what they have achieved with the agile customer experience management solution and tech stack.

  • Resources like instructional videos and learning tools from the technology providers can be shared or assigned as part of the onboarding process.

  • Share customer stories—both successes and failures. There are always lessons to be learned and opportunities to be found from mistakes. 

It’s common to see some resistance to any change in how things are done. Demonstrate to employees how these tools will help them do their jobs better while living up to the vision and values of the organization.

Level 4   

What it looks like 

There is a universal agile customer experience management solution to streamline and automate how you collect real-time feedback, analyze it for insights and trends, and take swift action to deliver better customer experiences. 

Customer data is integrated with other existing solutions—such as customer relationship management (CRM), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML)—to further enable teams to be customer-centric.  

Teams access overall CX metrics and individual, customer-level data with ease. Technology provides consistent ways feedback is collected, as well as protecting customer data and preferences. 

Level 4   

What it looks like 

There is a universal agile customer experience management solution to streamline and automate how you collect real-time feedback, analyze it for insights and trends, and take swift action to deliver better customer experiences. 

Customer data is integrated with other existing solutions—such as customer relationship management (CRM), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML)—to further enable teams to be customer-centric.  

Teams access overall CX metrics and individual, customer-level data with ease. Technology provides consistent ways feedback is collected, as well as protecting customer data and preferences. 

You might hear employees make statements such as:

Every week our cross-functional CX governance team gets together to review how we’re performing across departments and make critical decisions based on the in-depth customer and operational data available through custom dashboards. — Customer Experience Leader

Priorities to advance to the next level   

Moving from Level 4 to Level 5 occurs when technology and tools are used in even more advanced ways to empower everyone in the organization to deliver a seamless, personalized customer experience and a positive and rewarding employee experience (EX)

To move forward, you’ll focus on:

  • Integrating all business tools

  • Custom learning paths

How to take action

Step 1: Rely on a robust customer data platform (CDP) to show a holistic view of the customer experience and how it integrates with the organization’s processes

At Level 4, customer experience data and operational data are integrated. Now is the time to bring other data, like employee experience measurements and custom marketplace research, together to drive better results. This can be done with a customer data platform

A CDP is a collection of software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems. The data is combined and organized to create a single, holistic customer profile. This insight can be accessed by many business and CX tools, like marketing automation software and customer experience management solutions. 

There are options for how to bring this data together. When considering Customer Data Platform, ask yourself: 

  • What data is already collected that needs to be included?

  • What are the ways we’ll use this data?

  • How will we translate this data into business intelligence?

Of course, it’s also critical to ensure data privacy and excellent information security. To respect the choices customers have made regarding opt-ins or opt-outs, look for tools that are enabled for that level of compliance.

Combine centralized data with business intelligence (BI) tools to gain valuable insights at scale. Include non-customer-facing teams—like Human Resources, Supply Chain Management, and Technology—in your decision-making process. As such, no decision is made without the consideration of the customer, the employees, and the business goals. 

Centralized data about individual customers, employees, and products allow employees to make smart decisions while serving customers directly. Artificial intelligence and machine learning provide proactive predictions to take advantage of trends, insights, and future needs.

Data centralization also enables each tool in the overall tech stack to do what it does best. Leaders throughout the organization rely on the tools and data to help them deliver and report their outcomes.

Step 2: Create custom learning paths to educate employees on how to use this advanced technology and tools 

As more mature technology and tools are introduced, each employee will need to know how to use them for specific tasks and insights.

Learning paths provide direction to employees and help managers track on-demand training and education. Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide automated suggestions for ongoing training and education, based on skill assessment and employee-need analysis. 

Leaders can provide expectations around training, and some teams may want to provide internal certifications for those who are providing business intelligence and customer insights throughout the organization.

Tools and technology require new skills and knowledge; ongoing, focused, and customized education is critical to success.

Level 5   

What it looks like 

At this final stage, all business insights tools and technology—customer experience management, customer relationship management, Human Resources management, etc.—are integrated to provide a truly holistic view of the business. 

Technology enables every leader in the organization to gain insights and to take action for both customers and employees. 

Individual employees have constant, clear visibility into how they and their team drive business results. And internal training resources encourage the right learning path and knowledge-building activities that empower every employee to develop in their role. 

Customer experience is part of the culture in ways big and small. Each employee understands the importance of their role, and the tools and technology they use support these goals. 

You might hear employees make statements such as:

Through customer experience data and individual employee CX metrics performance, we’re able to identify strengths and weaknesses within our organization as it relates to customer centricity. From there, we can identify areas of opportunities for internal training. — Human Resources Leader

Where to go from here  

Organizations and technology will continue to evolve together. As technology becomes more adaptive, flexible, and intuitive, organizations will find even more smart uses for it.

Needs around automation, integrations, and business intelligence will expand. So you must work with your technology partners to ensure a well-aligned future together. 

To look to the future:

  • Take note of needs technology can’t meet yet and discuss these gaps with your technology partners.

  • Collaborate with cross-functional partners on what data sets or business intelligence would help deliver an even better customer experience.

  • Stay on top of enhancements and updates from technology partners to get the most out of every tool and the entire technology stack.

Technology and tools are there to empower, enable, and enlighten leaders so they can make better decisions and deliver improved outcomes for their customers and their organization. 

Centralized data and powerful, agile tools mean more meaningful and personalized experiences throughout the customer journey. The future of these tools means delivering faster, better insights.


Closing thoughts

When building your technology and tools stack, look for solutions that’ll enable your organization to remain agile and scale its strategic actions. 

As you take action, retake our maturity assessment to track your progress. Remember, you shouldn’t expect to make all major improvements at once—this is a slow process, but each change will add up to positively impact the quality of your customer experience program. 

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*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.