The Delta CX Model


Measurably improve products, services, experiences, and customer glee. Correctly predict, calculate, and mitigate time-consuming and expensive business risks.

Focusing on Customers’ Experiences

Companies familiar with CX (customer experience) typically respect the work, reports, and suggestions that these experts create. Yet the same companies typically devalue UX (user experience), believing UX is just making wireframes and that it’s non-specialized, too waterfall, too siloed, and tasks we can circumvent. People inside and outside of the industry have been confused by titles; what’s a product designer, UX designer, UI designer, UX/UI designer, experience designer, etc.?

Cottage industries have sprung up as everybody is now a design thinker doing design thinking or design sprints. Definitions of design thinking vary and are hard to nail down. Are these approaches the right choices for our company and its goals? Do these cost more than they are worth? Intelligent people are left confused by the growing pile of buzzwords and the expensive training and certificates that come with them.

The Delta CX model dispels CX and UX myths and proposes the best way for the full Customer Experience spectrum to be correctly and fully integrated into companies, processes, and teams. We lay out how CX fits into Agile beautifully and where it can sometimes be in conflict with Agile practices. We explain how and where CX can be Lean, and where incorrect definitions of Lean have previously been applied to UX work.

Delta CX Core Principles

1. Our Highest Priority Is Customer Satisfaction
Like Agile Manifesto Principle #1, our highest priority is customer satisfaction and the customer value of our products, services, and experiences. The best way to create customer satisfaction is to have our north star be the careful creation and constant refinement of our products, services, and experiences.
2. Quality Over Speed
While some methodologies are hung up on how fast products, services, and experiences can be built and released to the public, we know that delivering flawed products, services, and experiences works against us. The junk we offer our customers chips away at their loyalty, burns customer support time, embarrasses us in public, kills our stock price, and makes it harder for us to compete.

Great CX absolutely relies on a thorough process that focuses on research, designing based on what we learned from our research, testing our concepts, and iterating until we have the best solution we can create at this time. Great CX can be Lean and Agile, based on the purest definitions of each. And accessibility is a key part of the quality we’re aiming for.

3. Don't Get Trendy
Delta CX isn’t a trend that will die in a couple of years when something else comes along. These are the time-tested, successful approaches working at the companies we love and are loyal to.

Forget the buzzwords and everything else you’ve read. This book isn’t going to suggest you do design thinking, Lean UX (based on the book of the same name), or design sprints. In a later chapter, we will tell you why these and others are likely to fail your company, goals, initiatives, and customers.

We’re not going to demand that you have more empathy, which has popped up in so many articles it has nearly lost its meaning. You have the empathy that you have, no more and no less. The best course of action is that where empathy is needed in organizations, you hire the people who have boatloads of it and know how to use it for CX purposes.

4. Grounded in Proper Research
Without solid research conducted without bias, we are guessing at best and committing heinous acts of junk science at worst. The core of Delta CX is to always pursue better, more detailed, and more updated knowledge about our customers and our market.

Delta CX is about continuous improvement. We’ll need to be reactive in places but must aim to be as proactive and predictive as possible. We can’t achieve this without proper research and testing being done constantly, having the experts to analyze the findings, and having an efficient team who knows how to turn the reports into concrete projects and work items.

Part of this proper research is strategizing and undertaking how we will measure successes and failures. Who has been held accountable when products, services, or experiences are flawed, customers are unhappy, or we burn money on internal design workshops that don’t lead to amazing products, services, and experiences? It’s time to look at how everything can be measured and judged.

5. Success Relies on Action Heroes
Your company is better when you hire rock stars, ninjas, and other amazing achievers. The typical assumption is that these people are high-ego and awful to work with, no matter what their role is. We believe that you can find, hire, and retain low-ego, low-drama action heroes who shine in their expertise, are uniquely specialized, and can create MacGyver magic, all while contributing positively to the culture.

There is no reason for your company to hire non-experts in any area out of fear that a bruised ego will call those people negative names. We want to see experts putting their talents, skills, and experience to use at your company.

Their specialties must not be “decentralized” or “democratized,” two words synonymous with disempowerment. It’s no longer collaboration once we are removing people’s abilities to perform their jobs or call the shots in their area of specialty.

6. Collaboration With Respect
Collaboration is vital. Working closely with teammates and hearing their ideas are important. But we are against models that suggest that strategy or design is done by committee. CX must own its own tasks, processes, and be the final decision-maker in matters relating to the customer experience.

There is no other role at your company who is doing their job by committee. Product managers do not hold huge cross-functional team workshops so everybody can sketch out their suggested product roadmaps. DevOps engineers do not hold huge cross-functional team exercises to get people to chime in on how we should build our microservices.

Why do these group workshops only happen with CX or UX and what we should do instead to foster collaboration and share ideas? Delta CX focuses on how cross-functional teams and roles can collaborate better without treating any particular role like they can’t get their job done without a committee. We believe in CX sharing data and information that is too often not shared with our teammates. We’ll break down silos.

7. Play to People's Strengths
We’re not going to ask non-experts to become experts in something outside their strengths. While we’re for anybody looking to expand their knowledge or training, our model doesn’t require that people pursue new skills to essentially do other people’s jobs. We don’t require CX practitioners to be better at being Scrum Masters, visual designers to write code, writers to be better data scientists, or programmers to be great designers.

Company culture flows best when we play to people’s strengths. We want to see you create clearly defined jobs with healthy boundaries. Our co-workers, managers, and execs have noticed when unqualified “UX workers” did poor jobs. They assumed they hired strong practitioners, so it ends up shaping how they see our industry. We must turn this around by refocusing on our specialties and talents.

8. Customer Touchpoints
Every interaction a customer has with your company adds to the story they tell themselves and others about you. Customers can be unforgiving. We must make sure that every pixel and millimeter presented to shoppers and buyers in the digital and “real” worlds have been carefully crafted to meet and exceed needs and expectations.

We must strategize ways to create loyalty and satisfaction from our customers as well as how our company or products, services, and experiences can be remarkable, desired, and differentiated in a small world with so much competition.

9. "The Cambiata"
Delta CX is inspired by the “cambiata.” In Italian, it means something that has been changed. It’s also a music theory term for a simple melody that skips a note to (in layman’s terms) create more compatibility, something that sounds happier to our ear, and resolves better. The skipped note creates a break in the melody, taking it in another direction.

We want harmony and collaboration at our workplace. We want beautiful music. We want what will feel simple and be simple for our customers. Getting there requires change in many areas at our workplaces, and possibly a non-linear path. Delta CX practitioners are change agents. We do not show up at a job and just take orders. We are dedicated to conceptualizing, testing, and always refining changes we can make inside our workplaces as well as externally for customers and partners.

Delta CX Decision Matrix

It’s easy to say that many decisions about our products, services, and experiences are reversible. The dimension that then enters is: at what cost? What would it cost to have to change something in every hotel room? To undo an app feature everybody hated and redo it?

Therefore, considering these and other factors, the Delta CX Decision Matrix uses the following factors to judge who should do the work, when it should be done, and possibly how. You could say the need for a decision has SNUC up on you.

Strategy or Goal Achievement (S)

Does this work item or decision achieve stated goals or play strongly into our strategy? Rate this from 0 to 5 where 5 indicates that this achieves a goal or is highly relevant to our strategy. If this is someone’s ego or pet project and has absolutely nothing to do with strategy or goals, please give this a 0.

Number of People Affected (N)

Our decisions can be weighted by how many of our potential or current customers this might affect. Rate this from 0 to 5 where 5 indicates this affects 100% of customers. Nothing affects zero customers, but if it affects very few and is an extreme edge case, you can give this a 0.

Urgency or Severity (U)

How time-sensitive is this challenge or decision? How much are customers impacted? Is this mission critical or “life or death”? Rate this from 0 to 5 with 5 being the most urgent or severe. We would only give something a score of 0 if it wouldn’t matter if you took care of this now or in 5 years.

Cost to Reverse (C)

Most decisions are reversible with enough time and money. Rate this from 0 to 5 with 5 being the most expensive and time consuming to change or reverse. If something is inexpensively and easily reversible, you could give this a 0 or 1.

The cost to reverse is directly related to calculating risk. To continue an example from earlier, what will it cost our company to decide later that our smart light bulb should have been produced with a simple reset button (rather than a bizarre Morse code pattern to factory reset the equipment)? What is the risk in having smart bulbs that the public bought that can’t be retrofitted with a reset button but must still be supported?

Due to the importance of this dimension, we are giving Cost to Reverse extra weight. Double this score when adding up your final score.

We then end up with a score. The lowest possible score is 0, which means this is unrelated to our goals, affects nearly zero customers, not on fire, and is easy to undo later. The highest possible score is 25, meaning it’s highly tied to our goals and strategy, affects all of our customers, it’s urgently on fire, and it would be wildly expensive or time-consuming to change later.

If the score is 10 or under, this is probably a stakeholder pet project: low importance, little to do with our goals, and doesn’t really affect many customers. The potential work items could be eliminated, rethought, evolved, or given to juniors to play with (with seniors as mentors). This would put this work item more in the “playing with a low priority idea” realm versus something urgent and important for customers.

Anything with a Decision Matrix score of 11 or higher should be given to our pros and experts, our action heroes, to take care of mission-critical work and decisions. What company gives something that is mission-critical to non-experts?

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