A remarkable 81% of customer experience (CX) leaders say they will compete mostly or entirely on CX, while less than half have yet established the rationale for why CX drives business outcomes, according to research by Gartner. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

The goal of CX is to meet and exceed customer expectations, but while 48% say their CX efforts exceed management's expectations, just 22% of CX leaders report their CX efforts exceed customers' expectations.

To address this challenge, Gartner established what it calls the 'CX Pyramid', a methodology that helps test organisations' customer journeys and create more powerful experiences that deliver greater customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

The Gartner CX Pyramid is, in effect, a framework to understand what separates the most powerful customer experiences from the rest. Each level, from bottom to top, defines an incrementally stronger way to forge relationships between an organization's brand and their customers based on the way CX leaders listen for, understand, act on and solve customer needs.

The pyramid helps to identify the most powerful CX based on criteria including: (a) how the experiences are triggered, (b) the amount of effort required of the customer, (c) the completeness of the solution, and (d) the emotion and change in perception created by the experience.

According to Gartner, the pyramid goes beyond just solving today's problems for today's customers, by focusing on five key stages:

  1. Communication Level - Furnish customers with the information they can use via the right channel at the right time.
  2. Responsive Level - Solve the customer's problem quickly and efficiently - meaning, balance both business and customer goals, measures and strategies.
  3. Commitment Level - Listen for, understand and resolve customers' unique needs.
  4. Proactive Level - Provide experiences that resolve needs before customers ask.
  5. Evolution Level - Make customers feel better, safer or more powerful.

Through these levels, the pyramid should serve as a filter to review customer touch-points and experiences throughout the entire buy/own/advocate customer journey.

As a result, CX leaders who want to implement more powerful, proactive and innovative solutions through the pyramid should follow three key steps:

  1. Assess Your Capabilities - Ensure you're capturing a thorough understanding of customer wants, needs and expectations, not just their perceptions of your existing initiatives.
  2. Tailor Your Customer Journey Maps - Push experiences in the top of the CX pyramid at key touch-points and drive customers deeper into the buy/own/advocate journey.
  3. Measure Your CX Efforts Differently - Make sure you measure your more innovative customer experiences against adoption, perception and financial objectives.

"The fact that so many organisations understand the importance of CX to the brand, but are unable to deliver outcomes that meet or exceed customer expectations is indicative of a growing need for fresh approaches to delivering more positive outcomes for customers," said Augie Ray, Research Director for Gartner. "Leading brands in CX tend to start with a strong foundation in customer satisfaction."