What Marketers Need to Reach the Pinnacle of Customer Experience

In 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the impossible possible. The New Zealand and Nepalese adventurers climbed to the top of Mount Everest. Today, many adventurers attempt to accomplish the same feat. In fact, 520 people reach Mount Everest’s peak every year, Megan Burns, Forrester’s customer experience principal analyst, told the audience at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum.

“It’s enough to think that climbing Mount Everest is easy,” Burns told the crowd.

The Forrester analyst related the growing confidence among climbers to many companies’ customer experience (CX) mind-sets. Making it to the top is aspirational, but completely feasible. However, not all marketers realize that delivering an exceptional customer experience is an uphill climb: and, like a hike up Everest, one that requires years of training and planning.

Unfortunately, few companies properly prepare for the trek ahead. According to Forrester, 47% of companies admit to not measuring customer experience quality. In fact, only 8% of the companies analyzed in Forrester’s 2013 Customer Experience Index received an excellent rating for their overall customer experiences.

“Customer experiences have become a goal of Everest-like proportions for companies,” Burns explained.

Poor experiences can be attributed to low customer experience maturity, Burns told the audience. She defined customer experience maturity as “the extent to which an organization routinely performs the practices required to design, implement, and manage CX in a disciplined way.” Hence, a company with a high-level of customer experience maturity performs its practices systematically, while a company with a low-level of customer experience maturity conducts its CX practices in an “ad hoc” fashion.

So how can marketers improve their customer experiences by mountainous proportions? By repairing, elevating, optimizing and differentiating their customer experiences, companies can take their customer experiences to new heights.

“I hope you brought your climbing gear because this is the mountain that you have to get up,” Burns said.

Her advice:


To put an end to the “avalanche of bad customer experiences,” companies must first identify what those bad experiences are and then prioritize solutions, coordinate implementation of those solutions, and track results, Burns said.

“[It’s the] customer experience equivalent of making it to base camp,” Burns explained. “It’s not easy to get there, but you still have a long way to go.”


If companies want to take their customer experiences to new heights, they need to make positive customer experience behaviors “the norm.” Burns advises corporations to share customer insights on a regular basis, make the customer experience mentality part of a business’s core process, and track customer experience quality more mindfully. She also urges companies to use data to decipher successes from failures and to make best practices standard practices.


Having the right gear is critical for any explorer. For customer experience professionals, knowledge gained from adopted best practices is the most vital tool. If marketers want to survive their customer experience journey, they must examine the relationship between customer experience quality and business results, establish effective experience design practices, listen to customer experience desires and make little changes that make a big difference, and brush up employees’ customer-experience-related skills, Burns said.


 To “catapult” an organization to the top of the customer experience mountain, companies must differentiate themselves from their competitors by being open to looking at customer experiences differently, Burns said. Adopting a different mind-set can feel like an entirely new journey and involve reconsidering the company’s customer experience ecosystem, tackling customers’ unmet needs, and taking on new practices that show customers’ problems in a new light, she explained.

But if companies are willing to embark on this journey, they’re going to need a guide. Customer experience professionals must be willing to lead their teams to the top by providing the appropriate training and taking the best planning precautions. They must also set their goals clearly so their teams know how to scale to new heights.

“They’re going to be looking to you on how to climb over some of these rough patches,” Burns said.

And while the journey to the peak is a daunting one, the view from the top can’t be beat.

“Have a nice trek,” Burns concluded.

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