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Digital Transformation

Forrester CX: CX Maturity Model & Etsy


We are live-blogging from Forrester’s CXNYC this week, the event for customer experience leaders, innovators, and practitioners.

Rick Parrish discussed the CX Maturity model.  He started with an example of a company whose employees needed to fight with corporate and work off-site just to start to deliver a better customer experience.

Quote: You can’t create a great customer experience despite the culture of that company.

You can’t follow a hero dependent model to create that customer experience.  It’s high empathy but low discipline.

Others are rigid in the CX.  It’s about low empathy and lots of process.

Yet others are low empathy, low discipline, and run around with their heads cut off in a haphazard way.

So the mature ones define a high empathy and discipline approach to their customer’s experience.

Forrester completely redid their CX maturity model this year.


  • CX Strategy and Vision
  • Customer experience management
    • customer understanding
    • prioritization
      • Pick the work that advances the most important customer journeys
    • design
    • delivery
      • Manage day to day operations so CX matches the intended design
    • measurement
    • culture
  • Actual customer experience


Etsy: It started as a community over time based on a need. It was originally held together with scotch tape and bailing wire.  It was about creative entrepreneurs and independent sellers.  Etsy doesn’t do a lot of independent marketing.  All we are selling is an experience.

John Dalton: With all this growth, at some point you realize you need to understand your customers better.

Etsy: Initially there was some built in empathy but as it’s grown and different sellers and different buyers have driven a need to preserve empathy.

John: Talk about user research at Etsy

Etsy: The research practice is about three years old.  We did research before but in a more haphazard way.  I started three years ago with a background of UX.  Etsy felt a need to develop a more qualitative understanding.  We are known numbers and engineers.  Any person can spin up an A/B test and find the results.  But at some point in time it was an over-developed muscle.

Sellers are in the tool everyday. They have a sense of ownership over their shop.  Etsy learned the hard way that over-experimenting on sellers isn’t appreciated.  Etsy backed away from the A/B research.  They also are working on developing hypothesis based on some foundation vs just an idea.

John: How are you using this research?

Etsy: Some aspects of traditional usability testing has been rendered obsolete by A/B testing.  We tend to invest a lot up front with exploratory research with things like the user journey.  Also, there are more evaluative tests like brand perception that don’t work well with A/B testing.  So it’s really a combination of testing.

John: One of the things that struck me about Etsy is how research has become a part of our culture. They are very deliberate about the process and stay focused on the customer.

Etsy: One of the advantages of an in-house service is that we can be very tactical and answer great questions.  We also try to be strategic and answer key questions.  Those researchers can then start to answer questions people in the business aren’t asking.  We work hard on the trust factors. There’s not project on trust but our researchers focus on it as a larger arc.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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