As you’re ringing in 2016, think of this.

In 2014, Gartner predicted that, by 2016, 89 percent of companies would expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience (CX). Is that percentage correct? We’ll know soon.

What we know now is that organizations are placing more bets on customer experience. They are hiring chief customer officers, collecting customer data and creating customer strategies using key tools like customer journey maps.

But is all that CX activity leading to CX success? In many cases, no.

Dismal Statistics

In the recent CMSWire webinar Implement a CX Health Check, customer experience organization MaritzCX reported that 34 percent of companies claim they have undertaken customer journey mapping. But only 2 percent of companies reported success from their customer journey mapping efforts. MaritzCX cites Esteban Kolsky, customer strategist and founder of ThinkJar, as the source of this dismal statistic.

MaritzCX also presented industry-level data that shows companies experience a range of success. Investment brokerages, hotels, technology services and automotive companies are self-reporting that their CX programs are very successful at improving business outcomes. Airlines? Not so much.

MaritzCX’s research comes from its CX Evolution program, which helps companies assess their CX maturity level. CX Evolution also serves a benchmark for its 5,000 global participants, who answer questions about how customer experience fits within their organizations. You can take an online version of the assessment.

MaritzCX defines a CX maturity scale, from apathetic to enculturate, and correlates perceived financial performance and customer retention to higher levels of maturity. Many large enterprises fall in the middle of the maturity scale.

“The further you are able to get up that scale, the better you are going to be able to achieve what that [Gartner] 89 percent number said, which is to really compete on the basis of customer experience,” said Michael Allenson, senior strategic consulting director at MaritzCX.

MaritzCX Webinar

Some 64 percent of businesses in the top-tier "enculturate level" of CX maturity reported significant year-over-year improvement in financial performance. In the mid-tier "reactive" level of CX maturity, only 25 percent of businesses reported financial improvement.

CX Culture is Key

Company leadership that leads by action is necessary for advancing CX maturity. 

In fact, 63 percent of attendees that answered an in-webinar poll said that leadership that sets the right tone and expectations makes the biggest difference in driving customer experience success. (Hint: internal company culture can be an indicator of its outward-facing CX success.)

One organization that is getting it right is the USAA, which made J.D. Power’s 2014 list of Customer Champions. This insurance and financial services company, largely serving the military and its families, placed its technology center and call center next to each other. This step led to CX improvements like better services on its website. 

Of course, leadership alone will not ensure CX success. Allenson says that there are 14 criteria that factor into a CX maturity analysis. These factors include technology, customer response and employee capabilities. Watch the full webinar for recommendations and best practices for creating a CX strategy and embedding CX in your organization.  

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Luis Marina