In the age of the customer, companies must transform their cultures from product-centric to customer-centric. But that is easier said than done. Customer centricity requires all employees to understand who their customers are, how customers perceive their interactions with the company, and the roles employees play in delivering the overall experience. Customer experience (CX) rooms — immersive, interactive spaces that help employees better understand customers — have emerged as a powerful new tool for bringing customers and their journeys to life for workforces. Done well, CX rooms inspire empathy and understanding among employees and help build customer-centric cultures.

In my recent report, “Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Rooms,” I answered some of the common questions related to creating a CX room to help companies decide if they should build their own CX room.

Why do companies create CX rooms?

Firms create CX rooms to help employees understand the current customer experience their company delivers and to better understand the intended experience the company wants to deliver. The CX room that Ingrid Lindberg, chief customer experience officer at Prime Therapeutics, created at a previous employer demonstrated how complicated it was for customers to know which of the company’s many phone numbers they should call or which of the firm’s many websites they should visit.

How do CX rooms help improve customer centricity?

CX rooms increase understanding and awareness of both the challenges customers currently face and the plans companies have to make improvements. The rooms also foster understanding and empathy by creating an environment where employees are immersed in the often-painful reality of customer interactions with their company. Additionally, the rooms inspire enthusiasm in employees by showing the intended experience and encouraging employees to contribute to the transformation.

When should companies create a CX room?

Customer experience rooms should not be one of the first initiatives an organization undertakes to improve customer experience. It’s important to have prerequisites in place like qualitative research to deepen customer understanding and personas and journey maps that document that understanding. Companies should also have defined a customer experience strategy or created a vision for their intended experience that they are ready to share with all employees.

How do CX rooms fit in with other types of training and communication?

CX room content complements existing training and communications targeted to specific roles and functions within the organization. A large credit card provider, for example, started to take its room (the “Customer Experience Lab”) on the road to its call centers after it realized that call center reps could benefit from greater understanding of what customers do before and after they call. This high-level view of the end-to-end customer experience enhanced the role-specific training that call center agents had already received.

Do all employees need to visit the room or just customer-facing employees?

Companies should aim to have all employees visit their CX room, including executives, frontline staff, and back-office staff. In fact, CX rooms can have even more impact on back-office employees who don’t have regular interactions with customers and might doubt their ability to contribute to the experiences their company delivers.

Can you create a CX room yourself or should you seek outside expertise?

All of the companies we interviewed had some form of outside help when creating their CX rooms. At a minimum, companies should look to their agencies for help with the research and content for the rooms. And vendors with expertise in creating event exhibits or interactive displays are valuable partners for the build-out of the room.

Are you behind the times if you don’t have a CX room?

No. CX rooms are not yet in widespread use. But based on the level of interest we hear, as gauged by the number of questions we get from our clients, we expect CX rooms to become more common in the next few years as a tool for shaping customer-centric culture.

For answers to more common questions about CX rooms, and pictures of some current rooms, read the full report.