Organizational Barriers to Delivering your Customer Experience

It is no secret that organizations everywhere are trying to focus on the experience they provide to their customers. But truthfully, thinking about your customers and users should simply be how you work, how you think, and how you operate across the whole business anyway. The organizations that do this tend to see the power of using Experience Design and this way of thinking to solve business problems in unique ways, and, as a result, are seeing true impacts to their customer loyalty.

Trying to achieve this state takes committed actions, and cannot be seen as simply ticking off a checklist. For example, having a journey map does not mean that you are ultimately operating with Experience Design as a part of your DNA. However, this is achievable with strategically cohesive, tactical steps which build on each other to empower the organization through processes of thought, mind-sets, and behaviors that stick.

Over the last few years we have used our organizational CX Maturity Index to help many organizations in understanding their current state of CX, where their barriers may be, and helped them to isolate their problem areas so that they can plan their roadmap and actions for measurable results.

When we talk of Customer Experience maturity we look at over 70 attributes that create an environment in which true customer centricity can thrive, and how this can become, quite simply, just the way in which the organization works. These factors include employee enablement and engagement, governance and process, leadership, experience design reach, resources, data and insights, skills, and tools.

Looking back at the data we saw many patterns in the barriers faced by different organizations, even those with a higher level of maturity in CX, and we thought that this information might be helpful for others who may be facing similar issues.

Common barriers faced by all levels of maturity

Looking across all of the organizations, most barriers were seen within the factors of process, governance, use of strategic insights, data and measures, and tooling.

Firstly, it was clear that direction regarding a product or service design was being given by either leadership or a particular role within the organization. The key here, though, is that it was often obvious that this direction was given based merely on what they thought, or what they wanted. The problem, therefore, was that the decisions made were then based on assumptions rather than on a true understanding of the customer’s real need and how best to respond to it.

We also saw a general lack of accountability for the end-to-end design of the experience – either by an individual or cross-functionally. It seemed that while design and development may be able to work cohesively, getting the functions that delivered the total experience ecosystem, including, for example, marketing, support, and sales, was much tougher and the siloes did not tend to break down fully until there was a Leader who could bring Experience to the table as an overall business focus and strategy.

Data and measures were something else that were commonly lower on the maturity scale across all organizations. Having measures was not the issue; it was more having the right measures in place, being able to see a holistic view, and using the right data when making decisions. We also saw missed opportunities for organizations to better use the digital ecosystem to accumulate insights.

With regards to process, while many organizations had made tactical efforts, many lacked a strategic glue to really infuse Experience Design into the organization. Or, they had a strategy but didn’t seem to have the aligned tactical efforts to deliver it or bring it to fruition. Both a strategic plan around how you will inspire the culture of experience and the right tactical efforts to enable it have to be present if you want to see the right results. Other process issues included a lack of rightly timed moments to make trade-offs, to analyze risks, and to look at the impact on the total experience alongside efforts, timing, and cost when making decisions.

When it came to strategic insights, many faced an issue where insights collected were not shared and leveraged across the entire organization. The user research and other experience-focused activities can be incredibly valuable, but they need to be translated for each function and role if they are to be actioned. For example, if a particular user type tends to display certain characteristics, or act a certain way, what does that mean for the designers? What does that mean to a support engineer that has to provide them with help?

An area where we saw very low maturity was in the use of deeper insights. This included the understanding of what to measure; how to determine proactively an impact on the experience when making decisions, rather than reactively trending, or looking at data captured after the fact. There are several types of measures and it is a good idea for organizations striving to improve their CX maturity to understand the different types and when to use them.

When it came to tooling there was a general lack of common tools that enabled traceability from customer requirement all the way through the journey to support and ongoing.

Barriers still faced by high maturity organizations

While being a CX leader is certainly a moving target, we wanted to see what kinds of barriers those organizations that scored highly on the Maturity Index (75% or above) still faced, as this can indicate that these are some of the more difficult barriers to be overcome. They included:

Cross-Organizational Empowerment:

  • Having common tools that allow CX traceability, enable the teams to work cohesively and link both the customer and user experience components, such as marketing, sales, product, and support.
  • Ensuring that everybody, including functions, such as finance, or project management, understands the brand, purpose, experience visions, and their role in delivering it.


  • Having leadership that really “got it” and inspire the employee base. To take the experience to the next level, there was a need for leadership that could advocate, inspire, and live CX.
  • Having leadership advocacy that went beyond lip service and that was clearly felt by employees.


  • Understanding how to align the right tactical efforts to the strategy to deliver the desired experience.
  • Being proactive in decision making by understanding the impact on the whole experience.
  • Understanding what to measure and what matters in the whole ecosystem to best focus priorities, resources and efforts.


  • Ensuring the brand identity was felt through customer interactions across all touch points and moments of impact, as well as by employees.

Steps you can take

The great news is that, while it may seem overwhelming to guide or lead a movement which results in Experience becoming the way in which your organization operates, it can be done.

Some steps we have seen organizations successfully take when in the beginning stages of their journey are:

  • Seeing where you are today, what the barriers you face truly are, and what steps will bring you the best impact given your current landscape.
  • Educating the organization about Experience - after all, everyone in the organization plays a role in delivering it.
  • Providing measurable and clear results for high impact projects to demonstrate where Experience Design has helped.
  • Understanding what success is for the experience the organization is trying to deliver, and aligning all the functions so that they understand their role, and impact.
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