Customer Experience Management is bloody challenging. Delivering a consistent (and pleasurable) experience across dozens of channels requires well-defined CX practices that are deeply ingrained within the organisational culture.

Forrester first published CXM maturity framework in 2011 which defines the CX practices that every firm needs to master. Naturally, a lot of companies jumped on board with this framework. For some, it had been hugely successful, and for others — not so much.

Now after 5 years, Forrester has published an updated CX Index which is based on interviews with many (19) companies, new research, and lessons that they’ve learned from helping clients over time. In this post, I will be discussing the updated CXM framework and the six competencies required for a strong CX management.

84% of brands got “OK” scores or worse from customers, which is a clear sign that their current approach to CXM needs work. Forrester’s CX Index, Q3 2015

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Customer Understanding

No surprises here — the better we understand our customers, the better we can adapt to the changing landscape. Gaining insight into what customers are thinking, feeling, and doing will keep us one step ahead of our competition.

In the last five years, more and more companies have ramped up their UX capabilities to help them understand their target audience. Activities such as ethnographic studies, behavioural research and user interviews provide deep insights on how customers engage with our brand.

While working with YellowPages, we would not release a product (or iteration) without doing multiple rounds of user interviews and usability testing. Believe it or not, it saves a lot of time and re-work in future.

Prioritisation

Mature companies focus on what’s utmost important for their brand success. They don’t try to manage every nook and cranny of every customer interaction. Instead, they concentrate on the parts of CX that are critical to the business.

And this is where prioritisation comes in handy. Make a list of all the potential CX challenges and give it a ranking of severity. Tackle the ones that are on top of the list and make your way down. For example, human resources technology firm Aon focuses CX efforts on its self-service portal, in part because 90% of interactions happen there. But high usage isn’t the only reason that the portal gets top prioritisation. Good portal experiences satisfy two of the company’s three constituencies — end users (the client’s employees) and HR technology buyers. Users get the services they need, and buyers rest easy knowing that benefits issues aren’t distracting employees.

Design

There is a reason why even banks such as CBA and ANZ are focusing and investing more on human-centered design practices. There is no doubt that the first layer of customer interaction with your brand needs to be impressive and engaging.

The only way you can achieve that in today’s design-agnostic economy is by understanding what role design plays in people’ lives and how can we leverage that to create an experience that not only meets but exceeds their expectations.

Marriott Group (of hotels) uses human-centered design to expand high-level concepts like “lively social spaces” into CX blueprints that employees and partners can actually execute. Designers ground their work in primary research, like the 300-guest diary study that digital teams used to figure out which “mobile moments” to include in an app redesign.  The Marriott Innovation Lab gives employees a place to prototype and test new experiences to reimagine the hotel lobby as a mobile-enabled social hub instead of just a place that guests pass through to get to their room.

Delivery

Helmuth von Moltke, a famous 19th century Prussian army field marshal, observed that “no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” As the same is so often true with CX designs, mature companies make sure that customers experience what designers intend them to.

That’s why Travelodge created one-page guides that explain the “right” way to do things like cook breakfast or clean a room. Each guide uses simple drawings, which it patterns after directions for assembling Ikea furniture, to explain the process. According to Andrew Archibald, director of CX, “Anyone can pick it up, even if they’ve never worked here before, and follow most of the documentation.” Regular guest feedback reports tell managers how well they’re hitting the mark. If data signals a failure to deliver CX as it’s designed, hotel employees own the issue. But if guests complain even when staff executed well, the problem lies in the design, which the centralised CX team takes ownership for fixing.

Measurement

Customer perception metrics are the cornerstone of mature brands’ CX measurement programs. In 2012, CIBC chose Net Promoter Score (NPS) as its high-level CX metric for all client-facing areas of the bank, including branches, contact centres, and other teams like fraud and collection.

Continuously monitoring these scores lets CIBC leaders know that their CX efforts are working — NPS is up 5 to 10 points or more in every area that adopted it. BMO Bank of Montreal, a CIBC competitor, also uses NPS as its main CX metric. BMO leaders recently added four new CX metrics to the mix to measure each pillar of the bank’s CX vision. For example, the ideal BMO CX calls for employees to proactively reach out to customers with relevant offers, like a checking account that’s a better fit for their needs or a mortgage refinance with a lower interest rate. Surveys ask customers how proactive they feel that employees have been, with responses rolled up into a “proactivity score” on a weekly dashboard that managers at the company, region, and branch level track.

Culture

In mature companies, employees manage CX because it’s the right thing to do, not just because their boss tells them to do so. Customer-centric behaviours are ingrained into culture alongside traits like empathy, trust, fairness, and cooperation. And executives work hard to make sure that it stays that way.

For example, HubSpot’s “culture code” aligns job applicants and employees around core beliefs like, “Solve for the customer — not just their happiness, but their success,” and, “You shouldn’t penalise the many for the mistakes of the few”. A newly appointed vice president of culture and experience makes sure that the code doesn’t fade into obscurity as the company grows but keeps driving who and how HubSpot hires, how people work, and how managers evaluate performance.

Customer experience management is a blend of discipline and empathy. High levels of CX discipline and empathy creates mature CX driven organisation.  Another key area to focus on is to find existing pockets of maturity and build on them, instead of trying to find what’s missing.

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