Customer Experience (CX) Maturity isn’t a buzzword – it’s a vital measure of how successfully you meet the capabilities needed to deliver the experience your customers expect and deserve at every touchpoint.
It’s no secret that a bad experience can turn a customer off for life – and anyone they tell. This makes understanding CX maturity and tracking and evaluating your progress against a CX maturity model a vital component of your customer acquisition and retention strategies.
In this post, we’ve broken these concepts down, and offered highlights from a recent study into the CX maturity of organisations in the APAC region.
What is CX Maturity, and why is it important to track?
Measuring your CX maturity essentially answers the question: “How customer-centric are we?” by examining a range of CX factors such as:
- how invested your leaders in becoming customer-centric;
- whether you have a defined strategy;
- the sophistication of the technology you use;
- the extent to which you measure your efforts;
- whether your team have the skills and authority to act on customer insight; and
- how well you collect and incorporate customer feedback.
Assessing your organisation’s CX maturity requires adopting a relevant CX maturity model to conduct an honest evaluation of your business. The results help you create a practical and measurable plan of action.
Not only that, benchmarking yourself against industry peers and competitors can reveal gaps in your CX strategy that, when addressed, could help you lead the field.
What is a CX Maturity Model?
According to an article in Forbes: “A CX Maturity Model is a framework that identifies the different areas of development that CX requires, along with key milestones in each area.”
There’s no need to start from scratch, as firms such as Forrester, Gartner, Temkin and Fifth Quadrant have already created models you can use. It’s a matter of finding one that resonates with your organisation.
While each CX Maturity model is slightly different, they all break customer experience into several broad capabilities that every organisation should master. These include
- leadership and strategy,
- people and teams,
- CX design and processes,
- collecting and using data and insights, and
- CX measurement practices.
Each model scores organisations according to how well they deliver on the above capabilities and ascribes a CX maturity level on a scale from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Expert’ (although these titles differ significantly between models, the sentiment is the same).
Beginners have identified issues with their CX practice and are laying the groundwork for improvement. They may not have a defined CX strategy or commitment from senior leadership and may not use technology such as self-service portals or multi-channel customer service platforms. Conversely, Experts have CX embedded as a core part of their organisation and have integrated their CX technology into their wider IT environment. They create new experiences based on customer feedback and consider CX a differentiating factor in their success.
CX Firm, Fifth Quadrant, developed its own model to evaluate the CX maturity of organisations in the Asia Pacific region (APAC). Their model assesses CX capability in five areas: strategy and leadership, insights and analytics, measurement, teams and people, and technology. Organisations are scored out of 100 points, with an equal weighting of 20 points available for each area.
Source: 2021 APAC CX Maturity Report. Authored and published by Fifth Quadrant.
CX Maturity models, such as the one above, are a helpful management tool for defining your customer experience strategy and measuring your progress. They allow you to identify areas for improvement and investment, set clear and measurable objectives, and align each function of your organisation with your CX goals.
CX Maturity in Australia in 2021
Organisations in Australia and the Asia Pacific region were forced to adapt their customer experience offering to survive a tumultuous 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic. Some organisations used this period as an opportunity to set themselves ahead of their competitors. Others have bunkered down while taking notes on where they need to improve.
To get a complete picture of how APAC organisations are navigating their way towards CX maturity in a time of significant disruption, Fifth Quadrant conducted a study of 404 organisations using their own model. Participants completed a 20-minute survey and were ranked from Laggards to Leaders.
Their 2021 APAC CX Maturity Report offers insights into CX trends and impact of COVID-19, CX strategy, measuring the ROI from CX, multi-channel status/ integration, technology and telephony infrastructure, the future of contact centre operations and artificial intelligence.
Helpful takeaways from the report included:
- The main obstacles to improving CX are competing priorities, a lack of budget, and poor interdepartmental collaboration.
- Leaders were more likely to see improved KPIs such as customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and customer lifetime value during the pandemic. In contrast, Laggards saw the least amount of improvement. This indicates that higher CX Maturity increases resilience during times of disruption.
- While 2021 sees a continued shift towards lower-cost digital self-service channels, organisations shouldn’t get too carried away as some people still value the human touch. While customers expect self-service portals, apps, automated SMS and chatbots, they also want to speak to staff via webchat or phone. The challenge for many is finding the right balance between human and digital service channels and integrating them seamlessly.
- While Leaders saw improvements in channel performance (particularly in self-service, web chat, apps and social media), Laggards struggled.
- Over three-quarters of respondents had a multi-channel strategy that defined which new channels were being introduced, integrated or migrated, but the majority hadn’t implemented them yet.
- Channel integration is a priority for many respondents, but a lack of skills and budget hinders their goals. Integration is key to delivering an omnichannel experience but requires investment in the correct technology and telephony. Technology leaders who understand how to design scalable and affordable options using robust infrastructure will drive solutions to this challenge.
- There is a trend towards using a single platform to handle all customer experience channels.
- Over a quarter of respondents (primarily Laggards and Australian-based businesses) are still operating on-premise technology. This risk factor saw some unable to operate during periods of lockdown.
- 81% of respondents have migrated at least some of their infrastructure to the cloud, motivated by the need for new technology features to improve their CX and reduce operational costs.
You can download the full 2021 APAC CX Maturity Report to access deeper insights by industry and country.
Three things you can do to improve CX Maturity
It’s clear from the research above that, once you’ve determined your CX maturity level, your practical action plan for improvement should start with these three elements:
- A 12-month CX strategy focusing on best practice and refinement, guided by measurable objectives based on the CX maturity model you’ve used. Your CX strategy doesn’t have to be complicated, but it doesn’t need to address technology, people, culture, processes and KPIs.
- A commitment from senior management to prioritise integrated, multi-channel customer experiences. While achieving your – and your customer’s – idea of an ultimate customer experience may be a few years off, committing to working towards integration now will ensure it becomes a reality.
- A budget for investment in cloud contact centre technology. Migrating to the cloud and consolidating your customer service channels into one platform will make your infrastructure easier to manage. It will also improve your customer service team’s efficiency, and you’ll benefit from upgrades and advancements as soon as they are released.
If you are motivated by the findings and suggestions above, try assessing your organisation according to one of the models mentioned in this post. Understanding what CX maturity means and using a CX maturity model to track your progress will set you firmly on the path to customer experience brilliance.