Contact Us

Are Your Surveys a Crutch or a Tool?

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 03/12/2020

I just finished a monster road trip, shadowing two of our clients who have more mature CX programs for two days each, as part of Heart of the Customer’s massive undertaking to capture the current state of CX as a discipline. This came on the heels of over a dozen interviews with less mature CX programs. There were a ton of revelations, but I want to share a few learnings that stand out. 

They Attack a Big Problem First 

While less mature programs are focused on improving survey scores or working on end-to-end experiences, the more mature programs started by going after one area of shared pain between customers and the business. These varied from poor ordering processes, customer complaints, or product delivery. But the most mature programs chose a specific problem to attack, used journey mapping to grab the organization’s attention, and use this to drive change. And these aren’t small organizations – the successful programs were from organizations of $800 million, $1.2 billion, and $50 billion in revenue. 

The Survey Isn’t Your Scorecard 

Less mature programs focus extensively – sometimes exclusively – on surveys as their measurement of CX success. As the CFO at one company shared: “The CX team is a little too eager to gravitate to the survey results.” More mature programs focus on business data as the source of truth. Because if your CX program isn’t driving revenue, margin, or cost savings, why should the business invest in it? 

The Survey Is a Diagnostic 

While the mature programs do use surveys, their role ito explain the business results that are the true north of their programsSurveys explain what is happening in their business, by showing emotions and tracking changes over time. 

The mature programs focus on business outcomes – revenue, margin, and product attachment – as the true north for CX health. Their scorecards show both business and survey key performance indicators (KPIs), and they analyze the impact between them 

Business Data Is Integral to Their CX Work 

Two mature CX leaders can talk extensively about how certain behavioral data impacts survey results and how survey results are linked with business outcomes. But when possible, one CX leader focuses on behavioral data instead of surveys. Because if you can show, for example, that the length of time a complaint is outstanding directly impacts business outcomes, a survey is redundant.  

But this is only after both mature programs made the effort to access the operational and behavioral data critical to understanding the true customer experience and gaining buy-in from the business. 

Design Isn’t (Always) a CX Capability 

Something that surprises me is how most programs – mature or not – are not involved in experience design, one of the six CX competencies identified by the CXPA. The mature programs have a seat at the table, showing how to design the experience, but they don’t typically lead the design – that’s done by the business.  

I do know that many CX programs design experiences, especially in health care. But this hasn’t been a capability in the nine companies we’ve interviewed so far. [Note: Since this post was written, we have interviewed two CX teams that do have design as a core part of their responsibilities. The learning continues!] 

Mature Programs Segment Customers 

Here I’m not talking about research-based customer segments. Instead, the two mature CX programs separate customers into distinct categories and provide different levels of service to each. In one case, the CX program introduced this segmentation; in the other, it was created by the business. Note that these are both B2B companies, where this is more easily executed. 

Contrast this to the less mature programs, which treat every customer the sameThat one-size-fits-all approach to try to provide high-level service to everyone is likely to result in delivering it to no one 


Overall, there are far more findings than I can pull together in one blog post. Keep following here to learn more about what we’re discovering 

So far, weve scheduled about half of the 100 interviews we’re planning to conduct, so there’s still time for you to be a part of this exciting initiativeLet us hear what you have to say by signing up for a 45-minute virtual interview here. We’re listening! 


Keep reading.

Stay updated with our insights.

Stay updated with our insights.