Customer Experience Maturity Roadmap


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Customer experience maturity happens only through a concerted roadmap designed to guide your organization from its initial efforts to its achievement of differentiated customer experience (CX) with sustained return on investment. When I managed customer experience at semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials, I plotted out steps we planned to take in order to migrate our internal mindsets and behaviors toward an acute awareness of the customer experience that all of our departments were collectively creating. A customer experience roadmap is powerful when you use it as a conversation piece with your stakeholders. It engages your stakeholders in taking ownership for the company's customer-centric culture evolution, and in so doing, expands your army of change agents.
customer experience roadmap

CX Maturity Model Weaknesses
The trouble with most customer experience maturity models is their inadvertent piece-meal or silo design. As a customer yourself, you'd probably give high maturity ratings only to companies that show progress across your whole experience with them — not just their help desk or website or emails or surveys, right? And if a company is trying to cut-to-the-chase by heavily engaging you as a customer, without first (or simultaneously) ironing out the snafus in their product or service or processes, you'd probably beg to differ with their pats on the back for maturity in customer experience.

As laws of nature go, there is a sequence of interdependent building blocks necessary to achieving maturity. The word "mature" is about becoming fully developed — which implies the overcoming of dysfunction, defined as " any malfunctioning element of a system". Therefore, a high-quality customer experience maturity model requires systems thinking and systemic deployment.

Think of the maturity process relative to child development or building your tennis skills. In either example it&39;s not possible to only listen to a parent or coach and get points. A child is incorporating the parent's guidance in full execution of their being at any given moment. Even a beginning tennis player is embedding the coach's instruction in her movements on the court. So it does not make sense to look at customer experience maturity beginning only with listening to customers, nor only with engaging customers. There's a system in play. For the maturity of anything, the whole system needs to take well-planned steps simultaneously to evolve capabilities that collectively lead to maturity.

CX Maturity Model Framework
The sequential aspect of customer experience management is in the input-action-output (A-B-C) equation. Listen to customers (A), apply what they are telling you within your work (B), and deliver (C).
CX ROI Building Blocks

The systemic aspect of customer experience management is the concurrent execution of that sequence at all times. From the get-go, create actionable intelligence from voice-of-the-customer, engage employees broadly in improving and innovating their work in accordance with customer intelligence, and brand internally as intensely as you are branding externally to convey your promises and value. Employ all the building blocks simultaneously on a basic level to start out, and gradually increase sophistication of each building block — just as you would do in guiding a child's development or a tennis player's skill level.

For example, while you are setting up a shared vision (CX strategy/culture), you may collect existing customer comments (customer voice), connect the comments to operational data (customer intelligence), prioritize the comments based on customer revenue or cost (customer lifetime value), engage some teams in resolving the blaring issues (improvement), inspire some teams in creativity around the blaring opportunities (innovation), share selected comments on your intranet site (branding internally), and adapt your customer engagement to be sensitive to the blaring issues/opportunities (branding externally). Always think about the entire system. That, my friend, is the silver bullet for customer experience ROI.

We have created a customer experience maturity assessment that is agnostic to any specific methodology or technology. The stepping stones within each building block are recommended on the basis of many years in our personal careers in leading customer experience efforts inside complex organizations, with 20-20 hindsight. The stepping stones are prioritized by their typical impact on changes that customers will notice and respond to positively. This framework guides your deployment of the entire system simultaneously, with gradual increases in sophistication of all components over time. And going by the way customers think, points increase with company-wide deployment rather than certain functions or business units. Excellent customer experience is created by interdependent building blocks.

One of the beauties of this customer experience maturity model is its emphasis on getting the biggest bang for the buck — and keeping those bucks rolling in. That's what customer experience ROI is about: investing wisely to reap mutual increased value for the company and customers.

Stay tuned for more glimpses into the ClearCXTM customer experience maturity assessment as we explain 1 of the 9 CX ROI building blocks each week.

Lynn Hunsaker

Lynn Hunsaker is 1 of 5 CustomerThink Hall of Fame authors. She built CX maturity via customer experience, strategic planning, quality, and marketing roles at Applied Materials and Sonoco. She was a CXPA board member and SVAMA president, taught 25 college courses, and authored 6 CXM studies and many CXM handbooks and courses. Her specialties are B2B, silos, customer-centric business and marketing, engaging C-Suite and non-customer-facing groups in CX, leading indicators, ROI, maturity. CX leaders in 50+ countries benefit from her self-paced e-consulting: Masterminds, Value Exchange, and more.


  1. Hi…thanks for this interesting article Lynn…I am sort of curious to know how IT vendors can benefit from a CX strategy ?

  2. Yes, any entity should have a CX strategy and roadmap — for-profit, non-profit, government, any industry — they all serve a constituency for their continued existence.

    A study of failed initiatives of any sort, whether it be a small or large business, or an internal effort anywhere, typically points to a failure of shared vision horizontally and/or vertically in how to serve their constituency well.

    CX efforts struggle most when CX is viewed as a subset or unrelated to corporate strategy. And that goes back to my first point above. In our 4-year study of customer experience practices, we found that a minority of companies view customer experience as a *determinant* of corporate strategy — yet, the companies that did this tended to have stronger business results and more holistic management of customer experience.

    So everything discussed in the article here is universal. A couple of new resources on this topic that you may find useful:


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