Are Your Customer Experience (CX) Maturity Assessments Showing You the Right Picture?
There are three things that immediately render many well-intentioned CX Maturity Assessments useless — or worse, can lead to wrong diagnostics that can tie up a lot of valuable resources and leave an organization with little or useless outcomes. Those three things are:
- The assessment is not asking the right question to get to the right answers because it’s only looking at one of many critical dimensions affecting a true CX Quotient.
- They’re not polling enough of the right people to arrive at the most valuable and actionable answers.
- The assessment, as good as it may be, won’t unlock critical funding to develop and sustain the right Customer Experience Program for your organization.
If you’ve taken a Customer Experience (CX) Assessment recently, how confident were you that you had a comprehensive examination that told you exactly were your organization was and were it needed to go? Chances are, you aren’t quite sure of the value of the outcome.
Are you left with a measure that helps you know what to focus on, first…last? Is it helping you isolate the vital few vs. the trivial many? Are the people who are closest to the customer experiences, those on the front line, contributing to the assessment? Does your leadership feel the importance of their involvement, does Finance understand what scaling more positive experiences can yield? Again, if you’re like most, you can’t be too sure.
What we’ve found by doing this for years is that many CX Maturity Assessments are merely a quick glance by a select few through a tiny pinhole that only reveals one dimension of the organization’s TRUE CX Quotient. Specifically,
- Assessments are typically taken by too few people in the organization.
- Assessments are typically taken by people several degrees from the customer.
- Current state and future actions are planned based on a narrow assessment of the total customer experience.
- The people who have the most decision weight, typically have the least “experience with the customer.” They’re not feeling the urgency.
- There is a significant disparity in agreed upon degree of criticality or urgency of Customer Experience Programs in organizations based on proximity to the experience.
- There is significant disparity in leadership’s articulated need for CX Programs and adequately-funded CX Programs.
- Those perceived to be closest to the customer experience tend to over-estimate the apathy or lack of knowledge of others in different business units.
The assessment is not asking the right question to get to the right answers because it’s only looking at one of many critical dimensions affecting a true CX Quotient.
In our exhaustive research into publicly-available CX Maturity Assessments, we found they are all nearly the same. We did find a few that stood out from the pack. One was from a brand-building consultancy whose principle focus wasn’t customer experience — the other stand-out was from J.D. Power & Associates and wasn’t available in its entirety, but had more depth than most the others.
The bottom line is they are all asking simple questions about the organization’s fitness to deliver on the most widely-accepted tenets of CX and are all singularly focused on the top half-dozen questions surrounding basic Operational metrics.
Figure 1. Relative Quality of CX Assessments
Organizations need to look beyond their Operational Metrics to gain insight into their more holistic ability to master CX. They need to include assessment questions that look at the organization’s ability to create the conditions to pique customer’s interests, monitor individual transactional satisfaction across the channels that allow customers to act, individual stakeholder use of all the touchpoints across all the provided channels, cumulative loyalty, and most importantly, the total impact that changes in experience changes have on business outcomes.
It’s not until an organization has widened their CX measurement aperture to capture all these dimensions that they will fully know how well their CX program is performing.
They’re not polling enough of the right people up and down the power chain and across business units to arrive at the most valuable and actionable answers.
We find that the single most pervasive and biggest issue is that CX Maturity assessments are subjective and relative — impacting the overall value of the exercise’s outcome value. Like everything in life, you get out of it, what you put into it. In Figure 2. below, we designed a simple grid to show a horizontal span across a wider array of the most relevant business units and a vertical span to illustrate hierarchical positions of decision authority per business unit. By doing this, we can immediately see how different people at different levels of power and in different business units might see how well their organization is doing in applying energy and resources toward improving customer experiences.
Figure 2. Relative Quality of CX Assessments
What this is showing is that the assessment is only as strong and valuable as the person’s/people’s subjective answers to the assessment. In most cases, one person in the org takes the assessment, and that becomes the canonized reflection of the current state of CX Maturity. This is both wrong and dangerous if you’re taking actionable outcomes to heart and placing your bets on that assessment. Similarly, a doctor who takes your pulse cannot detect a potential issue with your appendix. But a doctor with slightly more expansive tools and a second opinion, will certainly find the issues affecting the patient. Same concept applies here. A better and more expansive approach to measuring CX with multiple relevant opinions will equal a more valuable analysis.
In Figure 3. below, you’ll see, based on a revised Fibonacci scoring method, we developed the total org’s Faith Score in their company’s CX Quotient. We then administered the assessment to four different people inside of one organization.
Figure 3. Assessment results from the total organization.
- If the org would have settled for the CMO’s interpretation, she would have indicated that the company was doing “well enough.”
- If the org would have settled for the Executive Vice President of IT’s interpretation, he would have indicated that the company was doing “perfectly.”
- If the org would have settled for the Director of IT’s interpretation, he would have indicated that the company was doing “pretty bad.”
- If the org would have settled for an IT Manager’s interpretation, she would have indicated that the company was doing “horribly.”
And the question, at this point, isn’t how much disparity lies in the relative hierarchical position of the assessment-takers, it more critical than that.
To us, a more problematic situation is that of the four assessments taken, (as illustrated in Figure 3) the organization isn’t tapping into the right people to get the most valuable possible outcome — one that can actually tell you where you are and where you need to go.
In Figure 4. below, we point out that there exists a “Sweet Spot” in many organizations providing a more telling outcome because it is assessing the company’s CX maturity based across multiple, and potentially more relevant perspectives that are closer to the customer experiences.
Figure 4. CX Maturity Proximity to the Customers’ Experience.
When the organization knows itself, it can authentically prioritize the relative ranking of CX Maturity based on assessment taker’s proximity to the experience. Only then can it balance the averages of multiple proximal perspectives, to get a more accurate measurement of its true CX Maturity. To use the doctor metaphor above, this approach is akin to asking a specific internal medicine doctor to evaluate the patient for more potentially hidden issues from the perspective of a specialist whose experienced, first-hand the specific issues affecting the patient.
The problem now is that there are no CX Maturity Assessments out there that can automatically know your company well enough to construct an assessment to give you the most accurate measure of your maturity.
Companies wishing to gain the most accurate CX Maturity assessment have to construct them themselves — or have someone construct them customized to their specific org, its hierarchies and specific idiosyncrasies.
No one general assessment will highlight anything more than a general sense of how you’re doing — on one level. The question at this point ought to be, is that okay with you?
But let’s not stop there. Let’s assume you have a powerful CX Maturity assessment and you base it across a broader spectrum of engaged employees and you are weighting the perspectives relative to their individual proximity to the customers’ experiences — you are still likely left with the reality that the leadership still won’t get it or isn’t in a position to feel the right level of criticality or urgency that CX requires.
The assessment, as good as it may be, won’t unlock critical funding to develop and sustain the right Customer Experience Program for your organization.
In Figure 5. below, we look at the lack of overlap between gaining the right level of true CX maturity and those that can effectively green light the funding of such programs and their respective levels of faith in the organization’s ability to deliver on the promise of CX.
Figure 5. CX Maturity Proximity to the Customers’ Experience vs. Funding Sources
It is interesting to evaluate the scores from the three different groupings. In assessing the CX maturity across the whole organization, a bulk of respondents landed between “somewhat indifferent” and “very dissatisfied.” Those in the CX Quotient Assessment Sweet Spot (those closest to the customer experience), seem to be landing clearly in the “somewhat dissatisfied” to “very dissatisfied” range. And when we asked those with the power to fund CX programs, we see they skew significantly toward the overall belief that the organization is doing well enough with what’s in place.
This will not get a proper CX Program funded. Despite all the research and data available today about the importance of Customer Experience, the issue in many organizations is that those able to fund CX Programs, are operating under to two beliefs;
- They cannot adequately determine what specific measureable benefits can be gained through a dedicated focus on CX as so they hesitate to fund until they’re more confident that it can prove a more solid ROI.
- They, based on improper CX Maturity Assessments, operate under the assumption that their organization is doing well enough with the resources applied to CX.
There is a new and more effective approach that helps CX-funding executives to address the two obstacles above. First, in Figure 6. below we illustrate how a more powerful CX Assessment can be aligned to specific measurable outcomes that a funding executive can get behind.
Figure 6. CX Maturity Aligned to Specific Measurable Outcomes
Ultimately, we have to agree that the principle purpose behind taking a CX Assessment in the first place is to not only to determine where the organization is in its current state, but to take it one step further — and build the business case, as a part of the assessment, that an increase in CX Maturity makes good business sense.
In developing a stronger business case for CX Effectiveness, your CX funding proposition can get straight to the heart of both issues above.
So, in conclusion, what can you do about all of this?
We’ve identified a handful of the quickest wins to solve for what we’re calling CX Assessment Myopia (unintended short-sightedness of CX capabilities driven by inadequate view of current CX maturity.)
What organizations need to do is:
- Develop custom CX Maturity Assessments based on the business the organization is in — and not rely on generic assessments.
- Increase the quality outcomes of CX Maturity assessments. (The value of CX measurement outcomes are equivalent to the quality, organizational breadth and depth of inquiry, range of participants asked and the relative weighting based on proximity to the customer experiences the company delivers.)
- Administer CX Maturity assessments more broadly (business units, hierarchical positions, channels, product lines, customer segments, geographies).
- Measure CX Maturity across the total CX spectrum (Strategy and Alignment, Awareness of the Customer, Design Practices, Touchpoint and Channels, Performance Measurement, Governance and CX Culture).
- Develop ranges of customer experience proximity to establish relative CX maturity knowledge.
- Weight assessment outcomes relative to the employee’s proximity to the customer experience.
- Agree upon a baseline to determine degree of criticality or urgency of Customer Experience based on proximity to the experience.
- Address the disparity in leadership-articulated need for CX Programs and the actual funding CX Programs receive.
- Build the case, as a part of the CX Maturity Assessment, that addresses the funding-executive’s “block” by aligning real, measurable business outcomes to CX Maturity.
- Make the case that the funding of CX Programs ought to be based on a function of the company’s total revenue, total annual marketing budget, true degree of current state CX maturity vs. how aggressively the company wants to mature their CX Quotient.
- Administer the quality CX Maturity assessments on an annual basis.
Hopefully, this approach will not only increase your organization’s awareness of the current state of CX, but it will unlock access to a whole new universe of possibilities and get the necessary executive backing to make it a thriving part of the enterprise.
Originally published at cxpilots.com on March 21, 2016.