If your business is like many these days, you’re looking for ways to stand apart from the competition and become an industry leader––but it’s a challenging journey. You have more competitors than ever, and it’s difficult to break through a marketing-saturated world. The key to rising above the rest of the crowd right now? It’s creating excellent, exceptional customer experiences.
But your business might have a little (or a lot) of room to grow in providing great customer experiences on a consistent basis. How can you tell where you are right now, and where you need to improve? This is where a customer experience maturity model comes in. It’s a framework that helps your business determine different areas of development that contribute to your overall customer experience, along with critical milestones in each area so you know where you stand and where you need to go.
You can use a customer experience maturity model to assess the current state of customer experience in your business, diagnose areas that need improvement, and guide your customer experience program.
Customer experience management
In order to understand what a maturity model looks like, you first need to have a strong grasp of customer experience management, also known as CXM.
CXM is a system used by businesses to oversee, track, and respond to all customer interactions. Every interaction a customer has with your business, no matter how small, impacts how they feel about your brand. That’s why CXM is so important.
Since there are so many touchpoints in the customer journey, CXM helps you manage each interaction so you are confident you’re exceeding your customers’ expectations every time, and that increases customer retention and loyalty. Wondering how to build a customer experience program for your business? It all begins with a thoughtful customer experience management strategy.
What is customer experience management?
Customer experience management is the process of designing and optimizing customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations. These interactions include any step along the customer journey––when customers see your ad or read an online review of your business for the first time, when they interact with your social media channels, research your products or services, make a purchase, or need help from your customer service team.
Carefully organizing and curating each step of the customer journey to delight your customers and serve their needs is what CXM is all about. After all, there are too many interactions customers can have with your brand to simply hope they all go well. Customer experience management ensures each touchpoint is optimized to center around customer needs and deliver an exceptional experience every time.
How to build a better customer experience program
Wondering how to improve the customer experience at your company? The first step is understanding where your business currently stands––exactly what a customer experience maturity model is designed to help you do.
Customer experience maturity: the nine elements
A customer experience maturity model assesses how advanced your business currently is at providing a deliberate, strategic customer experience. It’s a framework for understanding and managing the customer––it will tell you where your business currently stands, where you can make improvements, and what goals you need to set to uplevel your CX maturity.
If you don’t know where your customer experience framework currently stands, you won’t know where to improve or which improvements will make the most impact.
The following nine elements of CX are measured in GetFeedback’s CX maturity model––here’s what the beginning and final stages of CX maturity look like for each element.
If you’re just beginning to build a culture of CX, there is no CX strategy in place to enable change within your organization. While customer experience is understood as important for your business, the culture is not centered around customer-centricity. Standards, best practices, and recognition are ad hoc and not centralized with the values of the organization.
But if your CX maturity is at its highest level, customer-centricity is woven into every aspect of your organization’s culture, reinforcing and rewarding great customer experiences. Employees, leaders, and customers all feel a sense of belonging and pride in their connection to your organization.
When you’re at the early stage of creating a CX program, employee performance is not aligned with customer experience in your organization. An employee’s success is not measured based on CX metrics—like NPS®, CSAT, or CES—nor are employees empowered with tools to enable their success. Instead, employee performance is evaluated based on a person’s specific roles and responsibilities.
However, if your organization is fully mature in this element, you’ve embraced the employee experience completely. Employee feedback is consistently collected, evaluated and acted upon. Customer-centric behaviors are reinforced and rewarded. Also, the employee journey is well understood and communicated throughout the organization by leveraging employee journey maps and Voice of the Employee (VoE) programs.
Listening to customers
At a very early stage in your CX journey, the motivations for collecting feedback at your organization might not actually be based on the desire to listen to and understand the customer. Instead, feedback is most likely used to justify internal goals and projects. Additionally, there is no alignment across teams about where and when you should collect feedback.
But in a highly mature organization, you collect both proactive and passive feedback across all touchpoints in the customer journey. Proactive feedback refers to the feedback that you actively request from the customer after a specific interaction. Passive feedback includes the in-the-moment feedback you collect in a non-disruptive, always available manner as users navigate your website or app. The process of providing feedback feels seamless to your customers.
In an organization with low CX maturity, customer feedback data is either manually evaluated—the act of moving customer data from its original source to basic tools, such as spreadsheets, that require manual effort—or not reviewed for insights at all.
In a highly mature organization, on the other hand, experience data, operational data and marketplace data are centralized in one location—like an online dashboard. The data is analyzed to identify urgent, real-time issues as well as to predict future customer expectations.
Take action for customers
At an early stage of CX maturity, your organization uses customer insight in an ad hoc way, if at all. And when used, the customer feedback doesn’t drive any significant action. You might collect some amount of CX metrics, but the information you gain from them doesn’t translate into any improvements or changes.
At an advanced stage of CX maturity, all data—experience, operational, and marketplace— is in one centralized location. And teams in your organization are leveraging customer trends to take scalable action that positively impacts business results.
Technology and tools
In a low-maturity CX organization, your business isn’t using any sophisticated tools or technology to enable your teams to deliver better customer experiences. Instead, you’re collecting customer data manually, whether via customer service calls or chats, social media posts, forums, or other forms.
In a highly mature CX organization, 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 business goals.
At the beginning stage of CX maturity, the CX strategy—an actionable plan set forth to achieve your customer experience goals and vision—is not defined in your organization. Improvements to the customer experience are only done sporadically when the need is very obvious.
At the most advanced stage of CX maturity, your CX strategy is fully supported across all teams in your organization. Each team has CX-specific goals that support the overall CX strategy and every employee prioritizes what’s right for the customer, every time.
Customer journey mapping
Your organization with low CX maturity does not use a customer journey map, which is a visual representation of the holistic customer journey. It helps you understand your customers’ experiences with your company across all touchpoints. Customer journey maps play a crucial role in the success of any CX program.
Your organization with high CX maturity, on the other hand, uses customer journey mapping as a key function not only to react to customer insight but to innovate around the future of customer experience strategy.
Executives in organizations with low CX maturity talk about the importance of customer experience, but don’t provide resources to support a CX program. As such, there is no strategy in place to optimize the customer experience. There are also no tools and technologies to enable customer-centricity across teams.
Executives in organizations with high CX maturity, on the other hand, view a customer-centric culture as the top priority for business success. In fact, customer-centricity is woven into every aspect of your culture, reinforcing and rewarding great customer experience. And actions are taken to nurture and evolve this state throughout the organization.
Looking for a way to measure how your customer experience maturity experience currently stands, and get actionable ways to improve? Take the GetFeedback CX maturity assessment today.
How to improve customer experience
Once you’ve assessed your company’s customer experience maturity, you should have several areas noted for improvement within your current customer experience. This can seem discouraging, but it’s actually an exciting place to be––now you can take the right steps to improve the experience for your customers.
Within a customer experience model, there are four key pillars to focus on that will help you optimize your customer experience program. Each pillar is vital - and all of them should work together in harmony to create an excellent customer experience.
In order to successfully create an excellent customer experience management strategy, the commitment and momentum need to begin from the very top of your organization. If your leadership isn’t committed completely to the project and driving to your goals with purpose, you’re not going to successfully create a customer-centric organization.
Leadership at your company needs to be aligned on the importance of the customer experience in order to make changes stick. And they must work together across every department to determine the most effective CX strategy for the organization, and to put that strategy into place. Leaders also need to effectively communicate to employees why this new or expanded focus on the customer experience is essential to the health of the business and tied to the success of employees in their roles as well.
When your company has fully moved into CX maturity, your leadership will be consistently operating within your CX strategy as a matter of routine. Since each department in a business has an important role to play in the customer experience, the leader of each department must be on board with the strategy to make it work.
Your employees are essential to your organization’s customer experience - they’re the ones interfacing with customers on a regular basis, and those interactions make up the bulk of your customer experience. When your business has reached the highest level of CX maturity, your employees will be fluent in your customer experience strategy and engaged in the goals outlined by your leadership.
In order for employees to deliver a truly excellent customer experience, they need to be engaged in their roles. That means they have a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their jobs - they know what they’re doing and why it matters to their team and their organization. Connecting the goals of your organization and the key elements of CX to the work that employees do every day helps keep them engaged.
And you also need to give them the tools, knowledge, and training to actively contribute to the CX strategy. Employees will feel frustrated in their efforts to improve the customer experience if they’re not given the tools they need to do that well.
Employees can also be a great source of ideas to improve the customer experience themselves. Since they’re very close to it, they might have very effective suggestions for what your company can do better. You can conduct employee surveys or focus groups to allow them to offer ideas for improvement––this is especially helpful with frontline workers who have a lot of customer interaction.
When your organization begins to move towards a customer-centric culture, you must align your brand values with the customer’s needs. That means every decision you make starts from a place of considering what’s right for the customer, instead of what’s right for your business. And all of your company processes should support the customer-centric culture as well, from your ecommerce checkout to your billing and payment processes to your customer service team.
This can be difficult at first––business leaders are used to putting their company first, after all. But remembering that serving your customers with excellence and diligence will also make your business stronger and more profitable can help get leaders aligned on the importance of creating a customer-centric culture.
What’s the best way to create a culture centered around the customer that delivers excellent experiences every day? Well, it looks different for every company because your customers and your business are both unique. The best way to decide what will work for your business is to ask your customers directly, gather accurate data, and use those insights to identify trends, issues, and opportunities to take action.
You can gather customer insights and feedback in many different ways. Customer surveys such as NPS, CES, and CSAT offer a variety of metrics that can tell you about the experience you’re currently providing to customers and how it’s affecting their levels of loyalty and satisfaction. Data points like customer churn rates, retention rates, and win rates can tell you how effectively your efforts to create a great customer experience are going. And other feedback mechanisms like focus groups and customer reviews can point out issues with your products or services that are proving problematic.
Also, collecting data is just a starting point. Your data, and the insights you gain from this data, should be shared with the entire organization where relevant. And your teams across the organization should be using these insights to actively improve the customer experience. Many organizations do a great job of capturing and recording data, but fail to take action on what the data tells them they need to improve. While improvements can certainly be challenging, they’re also necessary to create a fully mature customer experience program.
The best way to stand out from your competitors and build a strong foundation for your business is to consistently create exceptional customer experiences. These experiences delight your customers and keep them coming back loyally for years to come, and encourage them to tell everyone they know how great your company and your products or services are.
And the best way to begin creating those experiences is by assessing where your organization currently stands using GetFeedback’s customer experience maturity model. It’s filled with highly actionable findings and specific guidance so you can build your own customer experience program and step up your organization’s CX maturity to take your business to the next level.