New to CX? Start with the Xs and Os

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One of the things I enjoy most about meeting customer experience professionals is finding out how they got into their current positions. While some aspired to be involved in CX, most arrived by assignment, appointment, or even accident. Given their unexpected rise to become the ultimate advocate for their customers, their first dilemma is figuring out how to get started. Many respond to this by thinking, “Well, I’m in charge of CX, so I suppose I should start by gathering customer feedback,” and they proceed to develop and launch their first surveys.

It’s a logical place to start, particularly for companies that have not leveraged customer insights in the past. CX professionals can collect feedback and distribute it to relevant leaders throughout the company with recommendations on what action to take to improve customer satisfaction. As they mature, they might even integrate the experience data (or X-data) they gather with existing operational data (or O-data) to provide even greater insight and direction.

However, a problem remains. How do you know you’re getting the right information for your business? After all, when new CX professionals launch a request for feedback, they will likely use survey templates they found online, ask for the information they think is important, or ask others in the company what they should include in a survey. These methods are OK, but they won’t necessarily line up with the metrics that the company currently uses to monitor progress. In essence, they’re just creating one more metric to follow that might not even be an indicator of company performance.


What if CX professionals started with information they already have? What if, instead of gathering X-data and then matching it up with O-data, they started with O-data that they already have and used that to determine the X-data they need?

Every company has O-data—lots of it. Data to measure and manage product quality, contact center performance, purchasing patterns, supply chain efficiency, manufacturing productivity, delivery speed, and much more. And it is fair to say that every department has a few key measures that are monitored by company leadership to determine the overall performance of the company. With all of these measures in place, why add one more to the mix? Instead, why not secure experience data to complement all the data you already have?


  • Account managers use customer loyalty insights to complement existing purchasing data, renewal rates, and revenue figures to reveal forecast inaccuracies, identify revenue at risk, and sharpen targets for upselling.
  • Contact center leaders could use customer feedback to find that their current focus on reducing time to resolve cases, while admirable, is not nearly as important to customers as first-call resolution.
  • Order processing managers receive customer input and find that their target metrics for delivery time simply do not meet customer expectations. What’s more, with additional analysis they discover that time-to-deliver is one of the primary reasons customers choose to stay or leave.

All of these are real scenarios that are only possible by integrating both X-data and O-data. By combining these data types, CX pros produce greater insights and clearer direction for action. There are other benefits, too:

  • Starting with O-data ensures that CX professionals are focused on information already considered to be the most important metrics to monitor.
  • It increases the likelihood that the work of the CX team will receive attention from company leadership.
  • It makes it easier to garner the support of department leaders since you are providing intelligence to increase the accuracy and relevance of data they use every day.
  • And it increases the likelihood that the customer insights collected will prompt action and generate results for the company.

If you are just starting out with your customer experience program (and a recent report by the XM Institute indicates that 54 percent of companies are just starting out), you could begin by crafting a survey. However, if you want more attention from leadership, greater engagement from department managers, and more action from colleagues across your company, start by using X-data to complement the O-data you already have. 

Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker, a leading customer experience services firm. He can be reached at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com.

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