On a survey we conducted recently, a whopping 80 percent of customer experience (CX) professionals said their firms' goal is to be a CX leader in their industry or across all industries. Unfortunately, our CX Index shows that only 11 percent of companies succeed in delivering an excellent experience--one that would set them apart from competitors.
Why? The answer is simple, but the solution isn't. Most companies take far too narrow a perspective on CX, considering only its most obvious components or pigeonholing it into a particular department. They fail to appreciate the larger ecosystem of employees and partners who must work in concert to achieve success. To really succeed with CX and create an outstanding, differentiated experience, businesses must understand, control, and ultimately transform not just their customer-facing touchpoints or the work of a particular business unit, but their entire CX ecosystem. In a recent report I defined the CX ecosystem as:
The web of relations among all aspects of a company including its customers, employees, partners, and operating environment, that determine the quality of the customer experience.
These CX ecosystems are vast, porous, unpredictable, and constantly evolving. Managing them is a daunting task. But companies at the top of the CX Index like salesforce.com, Delta Airlines, USAA, and Apple, are doing it right now. That's because they realized that shallow approaches to CX undermine improvement efforts, and that companies that address only the customer-facing surface layer of their CX ecosystems are bound to fall further and further behind their competitors.
Think about it this way: CX is like putting on a performance. Sure, the actors that everyone sees are important, but it takes a great crew behind the scenes to make even the most talented star shine. For CX pros, an unsophisticated approach that ignores the importance of everything behind the scenes results in efforts that:
Ã¢â"Â Treat symptoms but don't cure the disease. Like when companies respond to a rise in complaints by adding more contact centers instead of fixing the broken experience that caused the complaints in the first place.
Ã¢â"Â Fail to meet business objectives. This happens when company divisions have their own agendas, strategies, technologies, and success metrics, and they overlook the larger goals that customers are trying to achieve.
Ã¢â"Â Ignore the impact of partners and the operating environment. Firms that overlook the role of partners and the broader environment in customer experience do so at their own peril. Consider the the home appliances manufacturer that belatedly discovered its customers were skipping company owned channels and getting good repair advice fast and free from random strangers on social media.
And those are just a few of the consequences of the myopic approach to CX most companies take. Firms that want to really differentiate from their competitors and thrive in the age of the customer have to get past simply tinkering and really reinvent their customer experience ecosystems. Sure, that's a long journey--one that will never really be complete--but like any journey it starts with a single step. In this case, that step is CX ecosystem mapping. This is a powerful tool that digs into the ecosystems behind customer journey maps to identify the root causes of the customer pain points these surface-layer maps identify.
CX ecosystem mapping helps assess underlying processes in a company, similar to business process management (BPM), Lean, and Six Sigma approaches. However, ecosystem mapping differs in one key respect: its primary focus on the customer experience.
Companies that use ecosystem mapping reap many benefits, including:
- Detailed knowledge of customer journeys
- Greater understanding of ecosystem dynamics
- A prioritized list of root causes
- Better communication across functional silos
That's just the first task for that 80 percent of companies that want to be CX leaders. There is plenty more to do after they map their CX ecosystems, as I discuss in my updated Reinvent CX report. But mapping is a strong start, and will help more of that 80 percent that want to offer an excellent experience join the 11 percent that actually do.
About the Author:
Rick Parrish is a government customer experience analyst at Forrester Research