Annette Franz, CCXP, a customer experience consultant and CXPA Board Member, sat down with Pointillist’s Swati Sahai to talk about customer experience challenges, including how companies are organizing and operating their still early-stage customer experience functions, the challenges Chief Customer Experience Officers are focusing on, how they are measuring customer experience, and why employee experience is also in the mix.


Swati: Where do CX organizations typically sit within a company? Is it within Marketing, Operations or some other function?

Annette: It’s a mixed bag. I’ve got clients where the Chief Customer Officer reports directly to the CEO and where CX teams report to Marketing. I have seen CX teams stem from Sales because the Head of Sales realizes that retention is just as important as—if not more than—acquisition. I’ve also seen it start from HR because more and more companies are realizing that employee experience drives customer experience. So, it is a mixed bag right now.

Swati: What kind of KPIs are CX teams typically being measured on today?

Annette: The CX teams that I’m working with themselves aren’t being measured yet on KPIs. But there are general metrics of success around the work that they’re doing.

Swati: What kind of CX metrics do organizations employ to measure success?

Annette: Determining metrics starts with defining desired outcomes. Once you know what success looks like, then you can assign metrics to measure progress. Most of my clients employ well-known metrics such as NPS, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), , First Call Resolution (FCR), and Customer Effort Score (CES). They also use customer lifetime value(CLV), share of wallet, and retention.

It’s important to remember there are metrics on the employee side, as well, because employee experience drives the customer experience. So they look at employee engagement, eNPS, and, especially, retention and turnover numbers.

On the business side, companies measure cost savings and process efficiencies that come out of improvements that are made.

Swati: What are the big customer experience challenges that CX teams are currently facing? Are you seeing any common themes across the organizations you work with?

Annette: Data is definitely a challenge—a) there’s so much of it, and b) how do we get it all in one place so we can make sense of it?

I think another challenge is capturing and quantifying the impact of customer emotion. There isn’t a metric or number that you put around it, so it’s hard to quantify the impact of emotions. Most companies have qualitative data from comments and feedback, and a little bit of quantitative information, but measuring and quantifying it remains a challenge. Yet, how companies make employees and customers feel has a huge impact not only on the experience but on whether they will recommend or stay with the brand.

Another challenge for customer experience teams is figuring out how to move forward and build momentum after they’ve created their first customer journey map.

Swati: We’ve also heard CX teams complain that their customer journey maps aren’t actionable. That after a journey mapping project is complete and a journey map is created, everyone goes back to business as usual. How have you attacked that problem with your clients?

Annette: I remind my clients that journey mapping is a process, not just a tool. We can’t just go back to the office, roll up the map, and put it away. We have to actually do something with what we’ve learned. I do champion that cause and teach everyone how to make it actionable and drive real change.

Swati: What are the top priorities for CX teams in the near-term? Where are they focusing in the next 6 to 12 months?

Annette: For the companies that I work with, the CX function is still very young in the organization and the Chief Customer Officers are typically trying to understand where things are going wrong, why they are going wrong, and what they need to do—really just trying to understand the landscape and then start to set the strategy.

Swati: When CX teams are trying to analyze where and why things are going wrong, what kind of analytics are they using to inform their decision-making? Is it basic measurement and reporting? Is it predictive analytics? Do you see any use of customer journey analytics or even an instance of artificial intelligence being used?

Annette: Most of my clients are still focused on basic measurement and reporting right now. I have a background in using predictive and prescriptive analytics for customer experience and I know first-hand how powerful it can be. But, I still see a lot of CX teams completely focused on customer feedback and employee feedback and the mechanics of it and not much talk of predictive or prescriptive analytics.

Right now, it’s mostly about getting feedback from customers in the form of survey data. So part of my work with these companies is educating them about not analyzing this survey data in a vacuum, but tying it back to all the other customer data that they already have in order to build a single customer view, as well as link it to the KPIs their company is being measured by.

(Read ‘How to Create A Single Customer View to Deliver Better Customer Experience’ to learn more on this topic.)

Swati: Annette, tell us about a new CX trend or technology that you are personally most excited about?

Annette: I am excited about the changes that the application of Artificial Intelligence are bringing about in the field of customer experience. While the application of AI in customer service through the use of chatbots and virtual assistants is becoming fairly commonplace now, the real magic will begin to happen when companies start adopting the next wave of predictive personalization. Customers want companies to know them and to deliver a personalized experience that is timely and relevant to them.

Imagine a world where purchasing isn’t one click but zero click, where a brand has predicted your needs and personalized your experience without you having to communicate it. It’s like a self-driving car using knowledge of your preferred routes, entertainment options, and climate settings from past behavior to optimize a new road trip. Artificial intelligence will truly transform every aspect of customer engagement.

(To learn more about Annette, visit her website at