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Understanding The 5 Levels of Customer Experience Maturity

Sơn Vũ vào Jul 26, 2023

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The customer experience (CX) has risen to become the new critical differentiator for businesses of all sizes and industries. However, creating a great CX is not easy, and it requires a long-term, strategic approach. This is where the concept of CX maturity comes into play.

In this article, we will explore the five maturity levels for customer experience and discuss how businesses can leverage this framework to improve their CX and gain a competitive edge.

What is customer experience maturity? 

CX maturity levels represent a framework for measuring and advancing the level of CX offered by a business – in short, how advanced or embedded CXM (Customer Experience Management) is in their business. It is also how companies differentiate themselves from competitors – companies that offer a superior customer experience have higher level maturity levels and are more likely to retain existing customers, attract new ones, and ultimately achieve greater financial success. 

Only 12% of companies identify as being Mature CX companies, while 38% identify themselves as Young, 40% as First Steps, and 10% as Ignore.

The five levels of CX maturity 

You may run into conflicting CX maturity definitions and levels when doing your research online – and there are various reasons for this. It might be biased (companies trying to sell their products using their own biased frameworks) or lack of consistency (not defining a good CX framework from the start). We know this all too well when we were trying to develop our experience management platform, which is why we’ll try to make this as an objective source of information for you as possible. 
According to the Gartner CX management maturity model, the ideal CX management maturity model has five levels which are:

Level 1: Ad Hoc

As its name suggests, at this stage, companies approach CXM in an ad-hoc manner – when the needs arise. Customer experience strategies are not developed at this stage and customer feedback may not be acted upon. Companies have an informal and unplanned approach to CXM and the overall customer experience leaves much to be desired. 
A small retail store with limited resources and a focus on day-to-day operations. In such a company, the focus may be primarily on selling products rather than on delivering a great customer experience. There may not be any defined CX strategy or consistent processes in place to handle customer feedback or complaints. The staff may not be trained to handle customer interactions, resulting in inconsistent or poor service quality. The overall experience provided by the company is basic and transactional, with little focus on building customer relationships or fostering loyalty.

Level 2: Establishing

At this stage, companies realize the importance of good CX and are starting to establish the foundation for delivering a consistent and reliable CX. To better understand their customers, companies at this stage try to send customer surveys and conduct customer research to get to know the customer's needs and preferences. However, since the foundation is only being built, companies at this stage still have room for improvement such as requiring more data to understand their customers, lacking personalization initiatives, and so on
A mid-sized e-commerce business that has recently started to focus on CX. At this level, the company may have established basic processes and procedures for handling customer interactions, such as responding to customer inquiries within a set timeframe, a customer feedback program to gather insights into customer needs and preferences, and a basic CX strategy based on this feedback. 
The staff may receive some training on how to handle customer interactions, and the company may be starting to personalize the experience through basic segmentation and targeting. However, there may still be room for improvement in terms of delivering a more personalized and differentiated experience. 

Level 3: Performing

The toughest step is progressing from level 2 to level 3 in this Gartner’s five-level CXM maturity model because it requires lots of planning, strategizing, and communication. Performing-level companies are ones that have a solid foundation in delivering good customer experience and are trying to implement said strategies.
With a well-defined CX strategy in place, companies at this stage may use advanced analytics, CX metrics (such as NPS, CES, or CSAT), and customer insights to deliver good experiences across crucial touchpoints and channels. Due to a lack of experience and data, however, companies at this stage may still be lagging behind higher-level companies which is why they’re continually improving the experience by actively seeking feedback from customers.
Example: Delta Airlines is a company that has a well-defined CX strategy and is actively working to improve the customer experience across the organization. The company has established processes for collecting customer feedback and uses that feedback to drive improvements in the CX.
Some of the specific initiatives Delta has implemented to improve CX include offering free Wi-Fi on flights, introducing a mobile app that allows customers to track their bags and flight status, and investing in new aircraft and airport facilities to provide a more comfortable and enjoyable travel experience.

Level 4: Optimizing

After performing for a while, customer experience becomes a focal point of companies and is supported top-down. Funds are poured into CX programs and efforts are constantly being made to improve the customer experience – across all departments. At this stage, companies no longer try to meet customer expectations but try to exceed them with innovative ideas.
Example: XYZ is a company that has a robust feedback system in place that allows customers to provide feedback on their experience at every touchpoint. This feedback is analyzed in real-time using AI and machine learning algorithms, and insights are shared with the relevant teams in the organization so that they can take action to improve the customer experience.
XYZ is continually innovating to stay ahead of the competition. For example, they have recently introduced a new feature where customers can try on clothes virtually using augmented reality technology before making a purchase. This not only improves the customer experience but also reduces the number of returns, as customers can see how the clothes fit before they buy.

Level 5: Embedded

This level is rarely attained and requires a top-down customer-centric culture that influences the day-to-day actions and decisions of employees at every level. Because of this, embedded-level companies primarily use their customer service to differentiate themselves as their main goal is to make customers happy. In short, growths achieved by embedded companies are usually customer-led growth and not product-led growth. 
Zappos, an American online shoe and clothing retailer based in Las Vegas, US, is known for its customer-centric culture. It’s in the brand’s culture to focus on the experiences and make customers happy because, to them, happy customers make happy employees – and it works exceptionally well.
Zappos’ customer-facing staff are not trained to follow scripts – at all. Each employee is empowered to make their own decisions that drive more customer satisfaction and this, coincidentally, is also one of the reasons that the company is regarded as one of the best companies to work for.


All in all, these five levels of CXM maturity are how businesses currently try to assess their current CX program. Good CX programs are ones that, at the end of the day, are not really a program but more of a culture that’s embedded into the organization – from their customer-facing staff to leaders. Considering that most businesses out there are still at level one or two of the maturity scale, businesses should develop their own CXM strategy that works for them, and the way to do this is to base your CXM strategies on a solid CXM framework that can help you drive more sustainable growth.
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