Apply Root Cause Analysis For a Better Customer Experience

One of the highlights of this Forrester report (registration required) listing 14 Customer Experience Management (CXM) misconceptions is its focus on root cause analysis. Companies need to look beyond “gap analysis” and drill down into the people, process, and technology issues that are indeed driving a particular CX problem.

Completing an audit of your CX ecosystem is an excellent first step to identify the gaps in every interaction. It is not, in my opinion, the best tool for root cause diagnosis. 

Track down root causes of CX pain points

  1. Discuss with your Team:  The first step is to identify and prioritize the pain points across the customer lifecycle.  You can begin with an internal dialog to flag low-hanging-fruit such as poor UX and long service hold times.  Discuss with a team of decision makers who can provide perspectives from marketing, sales, service, retention, IT, and even legal.
  2. Look at your Data: You probably have many data-sets that can reveal much about the quality of your customer experience.  UX, Tagging and SEO audits can reveal a bevy of “quick hit” improvements. Structured and unstructured sentiment data (NetPromoter Scores, AI tools like natural language processing) can quickly flag the experiences that are driving the most defection and dissatisfaction. Don’t forget to bring recent first party research, transactional and operational data to the party.
  3. Keep Asking “Why?”: Getting to root-cause is a collaborative exercise.  I have found that when you focus a small cross-functional team on a CX priority, such as lead response times, you can often find fixes quickly.  Ask your teams which factors are most impacting lead times and drill down into the reasons for each.  A variety of factors including training, staffing, data feeds and logistics software may be the culprits.

Kaizen techniques and Fishbone diagrams are wonderful tools for this job. Here’s a template to track the CX problem, causes and sub-causes. 

fishbone diagram for CX root cause identification
Keep asking “why” when drilling down on a CX pain point, and document people, process and technology causes

Let’s say that “training” a candidate cause in our lead response example. Asking “why” like a dogged detective could reveal a tale of woe that involves poorly documented processes, lack of training staff, disparate lead management systems, and so on.


In your quest for CX improvement, don’t think that operational issues are necessarily beyond your remit. A good first step is to complete a CX ecosystem and experience audit to identify all the “gaps” in the lifecycle. Use data and research to uncover additional pain points and prioritize the important ones. For the true customer turn-offs, find a cross-functional solution through root cause analysis techniques.

And quantifying the impact of these changes in a CX business case might not be a terrible idea either.




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