Choosing The Top Customer Experience Consulting Firm For Your Needs

Five questions that’ll help you choose the top customer experience consulting firm for your company’s success.


With more and more organizations staking their future on customer experience (CX), lots of consulting companies have cropped up to help them.  As a result, finding the top customer experience consulting firm for your needs can be a difficult task.

Indeed, with so many consultancies, large and small, flying the customer experience banner, it can be challenging to select the right partner.

We’ve been doing customer experience consulting and training for more than 15 years, and we’ve learned a lot about facilitating the right match between clients and consultants.  In the hopes of making your selection process a little easier, we wanted to share some tips we’ve found helpful over the years in connecting prospective clients with the right consultants.

Here are five questions you should consider when evaluating which customer experience consulting firm is best suited to achieve your company’s specific objectives:


1.  What is it I really need from a customer experience consulting firm?

Depending on where you are with your customer experience improvement effort, you’ll likely have distinct requirements that should help narrow down the field of consultants.

You can ask yourself a few binary questions to help in this regard:

  • Am I looking for a technology solution or for strategic advice?
  • Do I need a comprehensive customer experience evaluation or just (re)design of a specific touchpoint?
  • Am I trying to first launch a customer experience improvement program or evolve one that’s already in place?
  • Do I need to educate employees about customer experience or just equip them with better tools to deliver it?
  • Do I need to cultivate greater insight about our customers or just capitalize on the insights we already have?

By contemplating parameters such as these, you can pinpoint the type of assistance you really need.  Then, by drilling into the core competencies of the consultancies you’re exploring (not by reviewing their marketing materials, but by asking them pointed questions), you can start paring down the list.

Depending on your specific needs, companies that are technology providers at heart might move to the top of your list, while those stronger in customer research might move down – or vice-versa, and so on.

In this way, you can begin to “bucket” consultancies based on their areas of focus (technology suppliers, training providers, strategic advisors, research firms, design outfits, process engineers, etc.), thereby making it easier to narrow the search.


2.  Is the firm’s customer experience practice just a rebranded version of a different specialty?

Consulting firms tend to latch onto the latest business buzzword in order to capitalize on the management fad of the day.

Back in the 1990’s, when corporate reengineering was all the rage, many consultancies simply rebranded their existing operations as “reengineering practices.”  Similar shape-shifting was evident when Six Sigma boomed, and then Big Data, and it continues today with AI-oriented solutions.

The customer experience consulting arena is no different.  Consulting organizations have slapped the “customer experience” moniker onto everything from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software implementers to Website User Experience departments to Digital Marketing units to Customer Research teams and more.

But none of these rebranded entities really qualify as true customer experience consulting firms (though what they offer might ultimately be one component of a broader customer experience strategy).

Ask probing questions of candidate firms to understand the origin of their customer experience practice and reveal their true core competency (which may be different than what their business cards say).


3.  Is the firm’s customer experience consulting practice independent, or part of a larger entity?

Another well-worn strategy among consulting firms is to acquire smaller companies who have specialized expertise that the marketplace is increasingly demanding.  As with organizational labels, this acquisition activity shifts into high gear once a particular discipline becomes business buzzworthy.

It should come as no surprise then that, over the past few years, many large consulting companies, research outfits, and software vendors have gobbled up smaller customer experience consulting firms.

So, what’s wrong with that, you might ask?

The risk is that the acquiring company is bringing the customer experience consultancy into the fold primarily to create a new pipeline for the acquirer’s core products and services (be it software platforms, market research, or something else).

That creates a potential conflict of interest, in that the guidance offered by the now-acquired customer experience consultancy may not be as independent and objective as you, the client, would have expected.

For this reason, it’s important to understand the ownership structure of the customer experience consulting firms you’re exploring.  Only then can you make an informed judgement about whether the firm will bring a truly independent perspective to your project… or if their opinions might be colored by the interests of a corporate parent/affiliate.


4.  Who will really be working on my project?

The operating model used by virtually all consulting firms is one where senior partners sell you on the consulting engagement, but then disappear once the project actually gets started.  In their place are newly minted MBAs and junior consultants who essentially pitch tents on your premises and train on your company’s dime.

This is a recipe for buyer’s remorse, which is why it’s important to ask up front just who will be doing your actual project work and what credentials they have:

  • How experienced are they?
  • If they are experienced, where did they get that experience?
  • Is it largely from studying and observing companies through academic or consulting roles?
  • Is it from in-the-trenches experience, actually leading an organization through change from within?

The answers to these questions will help clarify not just the quality of the individuals you’ll be working with, but also how they’re likely to approach the engagement.  Will it be from a more theoretical “ivory tower” perspective, or will it be from a more practical angle that’s grounded in real-world considerations.


5.  What kind of experience is the customer experience consulting firm delivering?

If you’re looking for a company that’s skilled at creating highly positive customer experiences, it’s worth considering “what kind of experience are they delivering to me?”

It doesn’t matter that you’re still a prospect (and not a customer) for the consultancy – because a well-engineered customer experience should cover the entire customer lifecycle.

Be deliberate in evaluating how various customer experience service providers interact with you:  the clarity of their communications, the personalization of their pitch, the responsiveness of their people.

These are all examples of markers that can help reveal how adept a particular provider is at designing and delivering a competitively differentiated customer experience.  Because if they can’t do it for their own company, what’s the chance they’ll be able to do it for yours?


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As Watermark’s own research has demonstrated, few things are more important to a company’s success than the quality of its customer experience.  So, when choosing the top customer experience consulting firm for your needs, use the five questions above to help make a thoughtful, well-informed decision.

And if you think Watermark might be a good fit for you, we encourage you to check out our Services, learn what differentiates us, and drop us a message to start a conversation.


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