If you’re a CX professional, you’ve probably heard it said that the majority of today’s companies compete based on customer experience. You’ve probably also read the statistics about how improved customer experience increases revenue. Or how customers are prepared to pay significantly more for products if it means they get better CX.
No doubt, a focus on improving CX is important. Yet understanding how much and where to make those changes begs a bigger question still: How well is your organisation currently performing? Where do you stand relative to peers in terms of CX delivery, right now? Would a few minor improvements push you from a middle-ground player to an outperformer, or are you already in the big leagues? Alternatively, does your organisation need a major rethink, if it hopes to stand shoulder to shoulder with the CX heavyweights?
To help answer this question, Zendesk partnered with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a leading research firm. Over 3,000 business decision-makers in customer service have been surveyed about how an organisation’s adoption of best practices improves its ability to deliver a superior customer experience. The goal: Developing a detailed understanding of effective CX practices, to help companies benchmark their current performance, develop a structured approach to identify strengths and weaknesses and make significant progress.
Based on the research, ESG built a CX maturity scale and identified common patterns and behaviours that separate high maturity CX organisations ("Champions") from less mature CX organisations (“Starting,” “Emerging” and “Rising”). Getting to grips with your current level of CX maturity can not only be enlightening, it is a mission-critical mandate— helping you make the changes you need to truly stand out in the market.
Assessing your CX maturity
Assessing your organisation’s current CX maturity level requires objectivity and the right starter questions. Many CX leaders feel they have a tight grasp on their organisation’s performance, yet they might omit key factors that affect how customers perceive their business every day. Or they rely on good customer feedback, ignoring hard metrics.
If you want to find out fast how your organisation stacks up on the CX maturity scale, take our quiz! It can give you a quick snapshot of how your organisation is performing right now, and how it compares to peers. From there, discover what steps you can take to level up.
CX maturity levels
ESG’s model digs deeper. They asked respondents over 60 questions about the attitudes, behaviours, and outcomes regarding their people, processes, and data/technology to determine an organisation’s service maturity.
The results speak volumes about organisations' growing commitment to pursuing CX excellence. They also show clear trends. For example, among SMBs in Europe, Starter and Emerging CX companies fell by 5% and 4% per cent respectively between 2020 and 2021, while Risers grew by 5%, and Champions saw a 3% boost. Overall, CX Champions now account for 9% of European SMB organisations, followed by Risers (15%), Emerging companies (31%) and Starters (45%).
Among European enterprise-scale companies, the pattern is similar. Between 2020 and 2021, Starter and Emerging companies saw a reduction in numbers, while Emerging and Champion CX companies grew significantly. In 2021, Starters now account for 41% of all European enterprise corporations, Emerging companies for 34%, Risers for 18% and Champions for 8%. While most companies remain in the earlier CX maturity stages, aspirant leaders are forging ahead.
Room for improvement?
Seven characteristics stand out when it comes to understanding the specifics of what CX champions do differently.
Evaluate honestly where your organisation stands in each area to identify where you should focus on improving.
- 1. Reactivity: How quickly can your company turn learnings from service interactions from customers into action? Is it a matter of days, weeks or months for meaningful change to happen? What is causing delays? How could you accelerate the process?
- 2. Data comprehensiveness: Does your organisation have all the customer service and support data and key performance indicators it needs? Do you have access to both the soft and hard data you need to make meaningful CX improvements? Do you have easy access to updated metrics? Are you collecting and processing all the data you need?
- 3. Data speed: Is your customer service and support data up to date/real time? Do you ever have to wait for the metrics and data you need? Is the information you receive fresh enough to enable you to make business changes when it counts?
- 4. Tools and technology: Are the service and support tools your agents work with effective? Do your staff have access to flexible, integrated technology? Do they have access to all the information they need to provide the best CX experience possible? Or are their efforts stymied by clunky setups and data gaps?
- 5. Staff training: Are your service and support staff skilled and trained appropriately? Can customers rely on the fact that they will always be in touch with a skilled and experienced agent, or will they sometimes encounter roadblocks and frustrations, due to a lack of training?
- 6. Staff numbers: Does your company keep staffing levels high enough to ensure non-disruptive service? Are your customers ever placed on hold for excessive lengths of time before they can speak to an agent? Do certain times of year see your organisation overwhelmed by customer contacts?
- 7. Continuous learning: How well does your organisation use customer service/support learnings as a feedback loop to optimise products, services, and/or business processes? Do you have a clear way to translate customer feedback into meaningful change? Have you recently changed a process or product based on feedback? Are your staff open and flexible enough to accommodate that change when it happens?
Take inspiration from the CX leaders today
Companies with the most mature CX constantly evaluate their organisations, looking for new ways to streamline processes, train their people, get more data and empower staff with the tools they need to do their jobs better.They view every day as an opportunity to improve the way things are done. They also anticipate growing their investment in CX tools and technologies the most, having seen the great business results the right investments can make. Because of this, champions are much more positive about the future prospects of their business than competitors.85% of their customers agree that they make getting service easy.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors influencing CX maturity. By focusing on improving your organisation’s approach to CX in these key domains, you can boost your CX maturity meaningfully.
Great service where it counts
- Relationships count: Over 90% of Champions consider shifting towards relationship-building conversational experiences with their customers (and away from transactional interactions) a key goal for their teams.
- Conversations are happening everywhere: Champions engage their customers in 2.5 more channels, on average. And their average first response time is 34% faster than Starters’.
- A view of every brand interaction: Nearly 75% of Champions can seamlessly stitch info from phone, email and chat together, using this integrated data to deliver more personalised and relevant customer support. Champions are also 12x more likely to deliver excellent customer visibility to agents.
- Seamless channel switching: Champions are 4.8x more likely to provide a seamless channel-switching experience to agents, allowing them to respond easily wherever needed.
- Effective work, anywhere: Companies expect to see 26% more of their staff working remotely in future. Leaders invest appropriately in collaboration tools, employee monitoring solutions, cloud-based applications, and other technologies to allow their staff to work effectively from anywhere.
- Ambitious goals: Champions were twice as likely as Starters to have accelerated major CX innovation projects despite macroeconomic uncertainty.
- A data-centric approach: Business leaders at Champion companies are 8 times more likely to review CX metrics and key performance indicators daily.
- Opportunity, not cost: 70% of Champions see their service and support teams as a competitive differentiator, not a cost center.
- More happy customers: Champions are nearly three times more likely than Starters to report having grown their customer base in the last 6 months.
- Greater spend<: Champions are 5.5x to report their per-customer spend has increased significantly in the past 6 months.
- A positive impact Champions are 2.7x more likely than Starters to operate a profitable service and support team.
Empower your organisation
If the research makes one thing clear, it’s this: Champions view CX in a fundamentally different way than their peers. Where Starters see challenges, Champions see opportunity. Despite the high degree of uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Champions actually accelerated their CX investment in the past 12 months, reaping the benefits of their investments.
The takeaway is that Champions believe in the power of continuous improvement, forging ahead with new CX initiatives, even when the outlook is uncertain. They trust their customers to reward them for great service, and they trust themselves — and their technology — to deliver it.
Find out how CX Champions are outperforming their counterparts
A lot goes into delivering a great customer experience (CX), but it can be hard to know where to make the most strategic investments. To help businesses make good, data-driven decisions, Zendesk partnered with ESG Research to build a framework around CX maturity and CX success.