Driven by the need to deliver a better customer experience (CX), many businesses have started to transform their communication processes to connect with their customers via the channels of their choice.

However, just modernising your customer communications by upgrading your composition platform is no longer sufficient. Today’s consumers expect seamless omnichannel communications and want to engage and interact with brands in meaningful and deeply personalised ways. This requires that customer communications and digital interactions flow out of a centralised customer experience management (CXM) strategy based on a complete understanding of how customers think, feel, and behave.

This shift from customer communication management (CCM) to CXM goes deeper than just investing in new technology.  Organisations need to find new ways of working together.  While new technology is emerging that enables organisations to overcome siloes and give control to business users, the transformation to CXM often also requires organisational and culture changes.

What are the benefits of a Customer Experience Management Maturity Model?

Successful businesses are never content with maintaining the status quo. The transformation from CCM to CXM is an ongoing process that materialises in incremental ways.

A CXM maturity model helps to visualise the required steps, understand where you are in the transition, and helps you to plan what to do next. Assessing your CCM-to-CXM maturity is helpful for the following reasons:

  1. It enables you to discuss, educate, and socialise the importance of evolving your customer communications into omnichannel experiences within your organisation.
  2. It maps your current capabilities against what is needed to drive increased business value.
  3. It creates a shared vision of a “future state” that other members of your organisation agree on.
  4. It creates a roadmap that helps you execute and stay on target.

CXM Maturity Awareness is a Competitive Advantage

According to Forbes, businesses who have invested in customer experience realise 80 percent
revenue increases. As such, focusing on CX is a business imperative. However, Omdia, a global leader in technology markets research, estimates that 73 percent of enterprises struggle to meet heightened customer expectations. Given this fact, it’s clear that awareness of your CXM maturity is a competitive advantage.

Embarking on a customer experience maturity assessment enables you to determine your business’s current state of CX, pinpoint areas for improvement, and ultimately informs your CX strategy.

What elements are part of the CXM Maturity Model?

Companies go through five distinct phases (see Figure 1 below) when evolving their customer communications into agile, bi-directional customer interactions. Each step is further divided into three main sections, which describe in more detail the why, who, and what:

  1. Strategy: Why are we doing this? What are our investment drivers?
  2. Control: Who is driving the change? What are the new buyer personas?
  3. Tactics: What changes in technology, processes, and people do we need to make to evolve into a higher maturity?
Aspire figure 1

Level 1: Ad hoc

Businesses at Level 1 (Ad hoc) typically do not have a defined owner for customer communications. Often, communications are self-developed, with content and business rules hardcoded in the applications themselves. They tend to be very paper-centric, and they find it difficult to change, driven by the high costs associated with manual change processes and inconsistencies across the organisation.


Level 2: Centralise

Businesses at Level 2 (Centralise) have placed responsibility for CCM in a centralised IT department. They typically work with several composition platforms for historical reasons and may have a sizeable share of mainframe or legacy output. While they have evolved from print to a more document-
centric worldview, they tend to see CCM primarily as structured, outbound communications driven by regulatory standards. Investments in CCM are made by purchasing on-premise, licensed software. While there is interest in moving to the cloud, this is frequently accomplished by shifting the entire IT infrastructure to the cloud, often in virtual private clouds that keep rendering behind the firewall.

Level 3: Manage

Businesses at Level 3 (Manage) have made some progress in evolving their customer communications. Their strategy is no longer defined by cost and risk reduction alone but is tipping over to delivery of business value. The cost to deliver business value is justified by realising efficiency savings as projects tend to be tactical in nature versus driven out of corporate-wide transformation programs. As a result, line of business (LOB) executives look to redirect spend into developing new capabilities that drive the needs of the business. Print suppression, call center volume reduction, business user enablement and change management are examples of such cost reduction strategies. At the same time, they bring business benefits, such as more control, higher agility, and a higher customer experience by supporting more digital channels.

Since control of CCM sits at the LOB level, organisational siloes and coordination challenges remain. The LOB as a buyer is more interested in buying software as a subscription (SaaS) or fit-for-purpose solution; and hybrid solutions where management and control are handled in a hosted or cloud environment and composition is performed on-premise are popular options for Level 3 companies.

Level 4: Optimise

Businesses at Level 4 (Optimise) have made the transition to a communications strategy that flows from the agenda of a corporate change agent, often a C-level executive. The result is a focus on digitisation, operational excellence, and a data-driven mindset focused on the customer. Customer communications are digital-first experiences that improve the ease of transacting with the customer and remove friction between channels.

A centralised team is responsible for managing communications and experiences, often in the form of a Center of Excellence (CoE), Shared Service, or even sometimes a marketing operations team. This team uses journey mapping to discover where customer experiences are broken. They use browser-based technology to empower their internal LOB staff while maintaining compliance with corporate brand and regulatory guidelines.

Level 5: Inform

Businesses at Level 5 (Inform) are very similar to Level 4 businesses with one significant difference – they have matured in how they use data to drive genuinely customer-centric interactions.

Digital leaders collect data and obtain valuable insights through the help of standard data models, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and big data analytics. As a result, they have insight into customer behaviour and where customers are in the lifecycle. They use those insights to determine what message at what point in time should be sent to what recipients.

Businesses at this level of CX maturity innovate and experiment. They are not afraid of working closely with their legal counterparts to find ways to overcome perceived regulatory restrictions. They focus on linking customer interactions to customer experience economics by understanding how improvements in customer experience drive incremental business growth. They also tend to be first movers in emerging technologies, such as speech recognition and chatbots, but also focus heavily on using AI technology and robotic software automation to make continuous improvements on the backend. Level 5 businesses often build their own application ecosystem by connecting API-based micro-services provisioned through pure cloud models. This allows them to innovate faster than their non-digital peers. These organisations allow customers to choose how and where they want to connect while engaging with only the data and information they find most valuable as part of their experience.

Going beyond the CXM Maturity Assessment: now what?

Once you’ve determined your current maturity level, you need to create a vision of how to go forward. Value assessment overviews, such as depicted in Figure 3 below, can help provide areas to focus on when evolving your maturity.

Aspire figure 3

For example, moving from level 3 to level 4 often involves migrating from on-premise software to a hybrid or pure cloud IT infrastructure.

Evolving your maturity is an incremental process. It considers your current maturity, your future state, the reasons why you are evolving, and the need to conclude by analysing how you currently operate and your target operating model. A roadmap is needed that helps you address the following questions:

  1. What technology gaps do we need to address?
  2. How do we organise ourselves?
  3. What skills do we need to have? Is this something we have in-house, or do we need to acquire those skills from outside providers?

While five-year plans were helpful in the past, today, companies are building shorter-term plans. Up to three years high-level and up to 18 months in more detail. Given the pace of technological change, potentially disruptive technologies such as AI, and the fact that these technologies can be rapidly adopted due to cloud distribution, it is hard to plan for more than three years out. Having “living” roadmaps that constantly evolve is a practice that makes more sense for organisations that are moving into higher maturity.


Analyst firm Aspire Communications Services (Aspire conducted a primary research project in 2019 to understand the transition of CCM into CXM) found that most businesses have identified customer experience as their top corporate priority CX leaders are urged to take the next steps and utilising this customer experience management maturity model to determine your current maturity level is an excellent first step.

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