13 December 2012

A maturity path for customer experience

Researching CX practices in telecom organizations

What are the responsibilities and the authority of customer experience owners within organizations? This research question was answered by senior customer experience professionals and executives from leading telcos in various continents. Telcos are allocating the most resources to customer experience. But while 92% of telecom executives say that customer experience is a top strategic objective of theirs, as customers, they rate the experience poorly or average at best. So, where are telcos on the maturity path for CX?

Consultant and project manager Zhecho Dobrev (Beyond Philosophy) provides the following results from the research.

“Where CX sits in the organization in the early stages of its development depends from the situation within the organization and ultimately who within the boardroom has endorsed it and is sponsoring it.

In 50% of the telco organizations, customer experience was sitting within the marketing department as a natural incubator place for it. The problem is that sometimes marketing has little authority over operations, making implementation of initiatives more difficult.

In 18% of the cases customer experience sits within customer service, again a natural place for it. The problem with this position is that CX is seen as fixing the basics rather than eliminating root causes and designing a deliberate experience that will differentiate the organization.

Two other possibilities are operations and human resources.

Sometimes (9%), there is a cross-functional team (a.k.a. Customer Experience Council) establishing customer experience and reporting to the board. Past its embryonic phase, it is recommended that it becomes a cross functional unit governed by a Customer Experience Council and chaired by the Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

The 5-stage maturity path of CX

1. The Naïve Stage

Everyone is in support to the idea of improving the experience and someone is given the task, but when it comes to actual implementation and assigning resources people are unwilling to let someone interfere with their usual way of working or the project is seen as cost to the business.

2. Low End Transactional Stage

A pilot project is initiated to prove the concept. Once the pilot project has proven its worth, the capacity of the CX teams are increased and are made formally responsible for the CX within the organization.

3. High End Transactional Stage

The Head of CX needs his word to be heard over recruitment and measurement, what’s the basis of people’s remunerations as well as to poses some budget of his own and has a say over the operational expenses. CX teams need to be involved in the early and final stages of new product and service development.

4. Enlightened Stage

The key characteristic of this stage is the existence of a CCO. The elevation of this role comes as organizations realize that in the ever more connected customer environment to continue growing they need to be more focused on the customer than ever before.

Three important pre-conditions for the CCO role to succeed: (1) A strategic mandate to differentiate based on customer experience, (2) a portfolio of successful projects to create buy-in and start the CX cultural change, and (3) a uniform understanding and support of the board for what the position can accomplish.

5. Natural Stage

The DNA of the customer is embedded within the organization and employees have a natural understanding of the customer needs and emotions. The senior leadership is putting customers in front of short term profits then you won’t need the CCO role anymore nor a dedicated customer experience department.”

Source: “Customer experience governance approaches & maturity stages” (Zhecho Dobrev, Beyond Philosophy)

Other maturity models for customer experience

Maturity models and frameworks for customer experience” (Oracle)

Customer experience maturity model” (Forrester)

The customer experience journey” (Bruce Temkin)

Business processes (14), Customer experience (67)