Forrester's Paul Hagen: Evaluating Customer Experience Maturity

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
"Customer experience (CX) maturity" was the topic of Forrester's recent Chief Customer Officer (CCO) roundtable meeting. The customer experience leaders present took a self-test of key CX practices (based on a recent report by Megan Burns called "Customer Experience Maturity Defined"), discussed their own company's strengths and weaknesses, and shared successes and challenges they faced at their companies in interactive discussions throughout the day.

"Customer experience (CX) maturity" was the topic of Forrester's recent Chief Customer Officer (CCO) roundtable meeting. The customer experience leaders present took a self-test of key CX practices (based on a recent report by Megan Burns called "Customer Experience Maturity Defined"), discussed their own company's strengths and weaknesses, and shared successes and challenges they faced at their companies in interactive discussions throughout the day. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

Governance and project investment. A significant portion of the discussion revolved around customer experience governance and getting funds for projects. There was clear agreement in the room on needing CX leaders at the top levels of management. For instance, the CCOs were saying:

  • "Customer experience loses at the corporate budgeting level. You need to be there or have an executive like the CFO fighting for you there."
  • "Get on the decision-making body for investments and make sure you at least have veto power over projects."
  • "When I'm making the business case for CX-related projects and pushing it up to the C-level, I always build ranges into the outcomes (e.g., reduce churn by .5 percent worst case, 1 percent middle case, and 2 percent best case; increase word of mouth by 2 percent worst case, 5 percent middle case, 10 percent best case). I get less argument about even the low number...people are overly optimistic."

One of the most interesting discussions focused on getting risk/compliance people into the process:

  • "Include the 'professional naysayers' early on (e.g., risk/legal/compliance). I've been able to get them as big advocates. I invited a guy from Risk to come along with my team to visit a university design school that was doing a project for us. By the end, he was pointing out things like disclosures that didn't provide customers any value."
  • "We got someone from Risk into our cross-functional team. At one point he came up to me and said, 'Don't tell my boss I said this, but I think we could fix this process.'"

Strategy. Everyone at the table agreed that having a clear customer experience strategy is important, though some admitted that their strategies were still ad hoc. Explanations included:

  • "People get uncomfortable making priorities."
  • "You have to understand your customer strategy. Come up with something simple that doesn't get bogged down at the functional level."

Culture. Attendees kept coming back throughout the day to the importance of culture.

  • "I spend 100 percent of my marketing budget targeting our engineering department. I try to catch engineers doing the right thing and lionize them. It's not about external advertising until we're getting it right internally."
  • "We developed an internal 'Brand Ambassador' program in which we recognized 40 to 50 nominated employees. Last year we sent this group to spend time at Disney Institute. We thought it was a good way to build on the passion they already have."
  • A couple other ideas for building culture included: A "stupid policies" contest, in which employees were asked to submit stupid policies that got in the way of delivering good customer experiences...and the top 10 were given awards. A "words we use" routine, where people were required to put some small amount of money in a jar if they used words that were internal jargon, rather than words that were customer-friendly.

Overall, CCOs at the roundtable expressed a central belief: that the work of driving customer experience maturity at their companies is an ongoing process, rather than an initiative with a specific end-date. As customers change their behavior and motivations, the practices that the companies put in place will help them to adapt more rapidly and uncover new opportunities.

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About the Author: Paul Hagen is a principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Customer Experience professionals. He blogs at http://blogs.forrester.com/paul_hagen

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