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3 CX Maturity Assessments (and Why They're Important)

Perhaps you've heard the term "maturity assessment" floating around in sales, marketing and operations departments? Perhaps not?

This article aims to clear up exactly what a maturity assessment is, and to explain why they can be very important change enablers for your business. More specifically, we'll focus on the customer experience maturity assessment.

In addition to an overview of what a maturity assessment is, we'll also give you access to three of the top CX maturity assessments available in the market today. Some food for thought, because each of them takes quite a different approach to the others.

What is a Maturity Assessment?

Put quite simply, a maturity assessment is a tool that helps you to benchmark how mature or evolved your business is in a particular topic. There are many different types of maturity assessments, for IT, Process Management, Social Media, Credit Management and of course - customer experience.

Most maturity assessments typically have two major dimensions, pillars and levels.

Pillars represent the aspects of maturity being measured as they pertain to the parent topic. So for example, in an IT Maturity assessment, the pillars might be:

  • Infrastructure
  • Network
  • Software
  • Technology Skills
  • etc.

Levels represent the maturity score in any given pillar. You can kind of think of it as a range from zero to hero, although most maturity model designers will probably come up with far more business appropriate terms than these :-)

Notably, maturity models are typically prepared by domain experts that might have varying opinions to other colleagues in their fields, so even for a chosen topic, both the pillars and levels can vary significantly from model to model.

Regardless though, completing a maturity assessment gives you insight into the way a chosen expert would view your business if they were to complete their own analysis, at a fraction of the cost of employing them directly - so they generally yield huge value to any person wanting to understand how well they're positioned in a specific topic. Naturally, choosing which assessment to use it important.

What is a CX Maturity Assessment?

As you'd imagine, a customer experience maturity assessment is designed to assess how well your business is positioned to deliver a superior customer experience, and by doing so achieve a degree of extra differentiation in the minds of your customers.

If you're reading this article, I'm assuming I don't have to explain the reasons for that being important in today's global and highly competitive market with customers that quite literally control the business relationship given the amount of choice they have available to them. You hopefully already get that.

What is important though is how you position yourself to assess your strengths and weaknesses in the topic. As we all know, CX is a complex subject matter. Some perceive it entirely as service delivery, others completely as emotional engagement.

Truth be told, from my more than 20 years worth of experience in CX, nobody has yet perfected the definition of what customer experience actually is (in a sentence). And that is because at its core, CX is about the human process - the way we react to things at any given moment. Because our world changes today faster than it ever has, the real definition of customer experience will continue to be in flux for some time.

But... having said all of this, there are some leading providers that have created really great approximations of modeling an organization's competence at delivering a great customer experience.

The remainder of this article will present three maturity assessment providers you should pay particular attention to if you're in the CX field. I'll try provide a short evaluation summary of the way each one approaches CX maturity assessments.

Forrester Research

The Forrester Maturity model is based on six key pillars, as quoted from the Forrester CX Assessment Website:

  1. Research. Understanding your customers in depth and communicating that understanding to employees and partners
  2. Prioritization. Focusing on what's most important for your customers' experience and your business’ success.
  3. Design. Defining and refining experiences based on your vision and research-based customer understanding.
  4. Enablement. Providing employees and partners with the resources they need to deliver the right experiences.
  5. Measurement. Quantifying the quality of experiences and their link to your organization’s overall metrics.
  6. Culture. Creating a system of shared values and behaviors that focus employees on delivering great customer experiences.

For each of these, the person completing the assessment is asked to assign one of three levels of performance:

  • Beginners
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Whilst I hold the Forrester group in very high regard, I must comment that I feel the overall design of this maturity assessment (at least at the surface level) is quite shallow. Not only can the six listed pillars be applied to almost any business topic, but three levels of maturity for a topic as complex as CX just will not suffice. Perhaps once you sign up as a paying customer (not cheap) the level of detail they give you expands?

In addition, the value provided after submitting the assessment is pretty slim. The response I received was this...

Notwithstanding my criticism, Forrester is a major player in business change management and not a company you'd want to ignore in any evaluation you're undertaking.

Temkin Group

The Temkin Group was recently acquired by Qualtrics, a company that is a really big player in the Voice of Customer and Enterprise Feedback Management spaces.

One of the things the Temkin Group did really well was to publish a blog called Experience Matters. If you visit the site, you'll find tons of useful information. The article I want to focus on is their Customer Experience Maturity Model.

Unlike the Forrester model, the Temkin Group Assessment actually gives you a whole bunch of useful information, with nice animated slides to make consumption of the model much easer.

The model focuses on four key competencies for CX (which we've called Pillars):

  1. Purposeful Leadership. Do your leaders operate consistently with a clear, well-articulated set of values?
  2. Compelling Brand Values. Are your brand attributes driving decisions about how you treat customers?
  3. Customer Connectedness. Is customer feedback and insight integrated throughout your organization?
  4. Employee Engagement. Are employees fully committed to the goals of your organization?

For each of these, organizations are measured against six stages (which we call levels) of performance:

  • Ignore
  • Explore
  • Mobilize
  • Operationalize
  • Align
  • Embed

The Temkin Group Maturity Assessment was one that I really enjoyed, and one that I'd recommend you check out. Their animated slide decks in particular are very helpful in understanding the overall picture.

Completing the Temkin Group CX assessment is a 20 question process. I actually thought majority of their questions were well thought out, although there did seem to be some repetition which could have resulted in a shorter survey.

After completing the assessment, I received this...

Admittedly, better feedback than Forrester, but still pretty slim. I guess these are both consulting firms that want you to engage them before they give you any real value.

PAPILLIO

Unlike the previously two reviewed maturity assessments, you'll need a PAPILLIO free trial before you can access this model. But trust me... it's worth it.

Even if you decide not to convert to a paying client, the value you will get from the tool during your first 30 free trial days is worth gold.

Like the other models, this one also is based on Pillars and Levels.

The pillars being assessed include:

  1. Strategy. The degree to which the company defines, implements and distributes their customer experience change strategy that clearly expresses goals for operations, brand and culture enhancements.
  2. Operations. The degree to which the company has enabled itself to deliver the customer experience vision through appropriate channels and marketing, with efficient customer-focused processes and effective IT and systems.
  3. Culture. The degree to which an awareness of customer experience is embedded in the way the business does things (environment and people). This is aligned to an over-arching customer experience objective and or promise. A strong relationship between employee engagement and a desire to deliver customer experience exists within the organization. The business focuses on collaboration, participation and giving people a voice.
  4. Insights. The degree to which your organization has armed itself with actionable intelligence. The objective and focus is centered around understanding customer feedback and research. This is used to provide actionable insights into how the organization is performing, as well as what changes need to be made for improvement for the customer as well as for the business.

In my opinion, this is the most expressive of all the models we've seen so far.  The pillars are clearly explained and the boundaries between each is easy to conceptualize, making the model's outputs less confusing.

The model has 6 levels of maturity:

  • Unaware
  • Learning
  • Planning
  • Implementing
  • Standardizing
  • Optimizing

Completing the PAPILLIO assessment is a four question process, with the options for respondents to add comments after each question.

After completing the assessment (which you do by yourself or by sending it to as many of you colleagues as you wish, you get a report per pillar. The one below is an example for the Strategy pillar.

Because PAPILLIO stores the results from previous survey deployments, you get a longitudinal analysis of maturity shifts over time.

If survey respondents offer open ended explanations for their rating answers, the tool automatically prepares a word cloud to help you understand any major themes that are coming up. At also does a basic AFINN sentiment analysis for you.

In addition to the summary trend report, you're also able to dig into specific surveys where you get additional insights like the statistical spread of responses from your colleagues.

Conclusion

Regardless which of these maturity assessments you choose for your business, choosing one is something you need to consider if you haven't. The data that they deliver can help you to understand what initiatives you need to focus on in your CX change management roadmap.


Dave Benjaminavatar

Dave Benjamin

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I am a creator of cool tech, with a focus on business transformation and solutions to help the world deliver better customer experiences. Motorbike enthusiast, lucky husband and dad of two great kids.