After passing through the initial stages of customer experience (CX) management evolution - those being 'CX Intrigue' and 'CX Exuberance' - the North American market has now entered into an era of 'CX Professionalism' in which best practices are being documented, according to the Temkin Group's report, 'The Future of Customer Experience'. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The research examined how customer experience management (CEM) has evolved and where it is heading, and found that 59% of large companies have ambitions to be industry leaders in customer experience within the next three years.

At the same time, Temkin Group estimates that there are more than 100,000 people in North America employed in full-time customer experience roles. Based on this significant ambition, and the development of customer experience tools and techniques by the growing pool of customer experience professionals, many companies are already building strong customer experience management capabilities.

"Customer experience has reached a tipping point, with a critical mass of professionals defining repeatable best practices and delivering strong ROI to their firms," noted Bruce Temkin, author of the research and managing partner for Temkin Group.

The report also revealed that companies are being motivated by a clearer understanding about the link between good customer experience and stronger business results. Temkin Group completed a study of 10,000 consumers that shows a strong correlation between customer experiences and loyalty across 18 industries in the US. In fact, a company with US$1 billion in annual sales can generate more than US$300 million more over three years with only a modest improvement in customer experience.

As organisations improve, the report suggests that they typically evolve through six stages of customer experience maturity:

  1. Ignore
    The company does not see customer experience as a key differentiator.
  2. Explore
    An ad-hoc group is established to understand how the company can improve customer experience.
  3. Mobilise
    A full-time executive leads the effort to improve customer experience and the company establishes a cross-functional governance system.
  4. Operationalize
    The company redesigns many of its operational processes using clear insights about customers.
  5. Align
    Customer experience behaviours are widespread across employees and they are supported by the company's standard measurement and incentive systems.
  6. Embed
    The company delivers great customer experience without focusing on it explicitly. It comes as a result of the entire organisation being committed to the company's clear sense of purpose.

While companies are gaining customer experience maturity, new technologies and processes are enabling more innovative practices, and the report goes on to identify and explain eight emerging customer experience skills that companies will need to master over the next several years: journey-centric alignment, mobile-infused experiences, predictive personalisation, distributed contextual insights, federated customer experience capabilities, business rhythm integration, rejuvenated purposefulness, and promoter activation.

The report has been made available via the Customer Experience Matters blog - click here.