Beware the ‘X’istential beings

Everyone is trying to put the X factor into service. But what do CX, DX, UX and EX mean in relation to service technology?

In the world of software, SaaS and enterprise solutions there has always been a state of convergence, somewhere. We have seen ITSM vendors moving in on business and customer service applications and CRM platforms taking on ERP vendors. This competition or convergence will always lead vendors to reappraise their proposition.

And whether it is down to the desire for digital transformation or because the company takes strategic advice from Forrester[1], the latest battlefield where vendors (including Business Intelligence (BI) vendors, consulting firms, ERP players, CRM specialists and many more) are converging is Customer Experience (CX).

CX is not just a converging market, it is a confused state. Few buyers truly understand what CX is and others believe that simply by digitising their business, moving to omnichannel, that DX (Digital Experience) becomes great CX. But how many of us have heard our parents or grandparents state that they will not buy “off-the-internet”, yet get frustrated when they cannot find what they want in a physical store?

Great customer experience in telecoms has always been defined by broadband availability and coverage and so on[2], but uptime, capacity and simply being able to use the network is really just good service delivery.

In banking, the move to apps and online services is providing the self-service interfaces that younger customers instantly use and, as DevOps’ increases its agile control over data sources (legacy and Big Data) to further digitise products, a better User Experience (UX) is provided. However, there is still no guarantee that the customer experience is any better, as branch services may be resource-constrained.

IT is underpinning many of these advances, both in terms of its traditional infrastructure support and as a broker of cloud and data services, as integration moves across on-premises and SaaS solutions and processes. When IT is successful, CX and Employee Experience (EX) will be the main beneficiaries.

So back to these Xistential beings and what they really are. The best way to look at these X categories is to start from the outside of a business before moving inside.


Customer Experience was the domain of vendors such as Qualtrics, Satmetrix, Confirmit and others, often complemented in their endeavours by a healthy working relationship with market research agencies. Back in 2011, Gartner saw CX as Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) solutions that enabled an event-based score of customer satisfaction for the product or services received. Satmetrix had established an industry-wide scoring mechanism called NPS (Net Promotor Score) to rival CSAT. Forrester has now upgraded this with its CX Index (CXI) as social media ratings and the like kick in.

CX is an outside/in view of the business. Quite simply, it’s the ability to capture customers’ sentiment at every touchpoint on their journey, so a business can assess how likely they are to buy again and be retained for a lifetime. It is a common misperception that CX is customer service, it is not but it can used to benchmark how good you are at it.

At a top level, CX is surveys, email, online, SMS and telephone, and it is also voice and text analytics and the ability for predictive analytics and case management. The vendors mentioned above do this very well and are being joined by others; for example, social media monitoring is needed to aggregate customers scores. Interestingly, none of these vendors were included on the last Gartner Quadrant for this space.

Gartner MQ - CRM and CX 2016

Despite the proliferation of consulting firms and enterprise solution providers, KPMG, who recently acquired CX vendor Nunwood, is omitted. So Gartner is adding to the confused state of CX.

CX is the customer barometer that tests the market temperature and it is a means to better segment customer types by behaviour and to push new products and services that are aligned to their activities and sentiments.

CX is also often confused with Customer Engagement Management (CEM) as defined by call centre, CRM and marketing automation technologies. Whereas CEM obviously benefits from CX (proactive case management, sales and forecasting), it is very much more an inside/out view of why and when the business needs to engage with its customer base.

The single view of the customer will come from the data held in CEM aggregated by the sentiment and comments captured by CX.


Digital experience management is the deliverable of transformation, the investment in the Internet of Things, the always on/always open channels a business wants its customers to have. Becoming omnichannel is the culmination of the consistent delivery of message, product and offer regardless of the channels chosen and needs to maintain the balance of online and off line.

This is hugely data driven and incredibly dependent on the information being collected by CX. Customer Journey Mapping is a discipline used to plot (by customer segment(s)) the touchpoints taken before and during a transaction and post-sale. This insight will help to define the extent to which services are successfully digitised. In short, do not forget who the customer is. As Accenture[3] found, customers still value human interaction in customer services   ̶   76% of UK consumers still prefer human beings to be involved in solving their customer service issues.


User experience is typically a subset of digital transformation and CX. In some customer segments or organisations (Amazon comes to mind), UX can totally define CX as it relates to how usable a website, an online store and the supporting app are. Are these responsive, quick and easy-to-use? Do they render for mobile?

That said, great UX should be designed with the customer in mind. RBS’s recent announcement that it was going to close several UK branches is part of its digital strategy and the customer/user acceptance of banking apps and online products now available. Overall, CX must score highly for RBS for it to be able to change its business model with confidence.


If CX is defined as ensuring that your business is the best for customers, the Employee Experience is about your company being the greatest place to work. It’s a cultural thing where the workers feel empowered and cared for in equal measure. The pride that this engenders drives the employees’ desire to do well for the company and its customers.

Jeff Toister (, explains this well with one story about a time when Rackspace had a third-party telephone service outage and support staff tweeted their personal mobile numbers to the customer base so that business could continue as usual. Such is the commitment of the company to its staff and each individual to Rackspace and its customers. Time was not lost seeking permission as empowered employees ensured support services were delivered.

Customer first, customer-centric initiatives within companies are often externally marketed, but to culturally embed and empower a whole organisation, CX must start with the employee.


Although lacking an X in its respective acronym, IT service management remains a constant inside/out influence within every company.

The only difference is that 20 years ago ITSM typically supported other inside/out front-office functions, through an on-premises infrastructure. Today, IT is much closer to customer. The integration of services, data and process to deliver that single pane of customer truth to frontline staff is more mission-critical than ever before. The need to utilise legacy systems and orchestrate cloud services goes beyond business functions to form a layer of presentation data, communications and interface channels for every customer, consumer and trading partner.

If CX is truly the new battleground for business success, then IT is the artillery!