XY Matrix

Skill level: Basic


The XY matrix is a tool that allows a team or individual to make informed decisions by comparing two sets of information and analyzing the relationships between them.


  • Allows you to consider long or complex lists of characteristics and visually see the patterns between them
  • Helps a team make decisions based on data rather than opinion
  • Incorporates voice of customer input in decision making

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Generally, it is best to start with voice of customer input. This may come from surveys, focus groups, or other efforts to collect customer priorities. List the customer requirements at the top of a column – these are the Y data for the XY matrix.
    • In the example below, a computer support group is trying to determine how to improve its services. Customers indicated that “fast and easy to get help” is their number one priority, and “more knowledgeable agents” is their second priority, and so on.
  • Step 2.  List the priorities identified through voice of customer above each column. In this case, five is the highest priority; one is lowest. This prioritization can be used for weighting the results.
  • Step 3.  List the possible inputs, or service improvements, in each row – these become the X data for the XY matrix.
    • In this example, the team brainstormed ideas, such as adding more agents to answer the phones, or programming self-healing to address common issues.
  • Step 4.  Assess the relationship between the customer priorities and each of the inputs or ideas for the X rows.
    • There are a number of methods for noting correlations. A simple approach would be to put a check mark where one exists and a blank where it does not. Then, visually scan for patterns for check marks.
    • Other teams prefer symbols (triangles, circles, dots) to represent high, medium, and low correlation.
    • In the example below, the team chose to use a scale of one to 10 (10 being highest correlation) so that they could calculate a weighted result based on customer priority. This calculated ranking is in the column to the far right.
  • Step 5.  If you used symbols, scan the table for the items with the greatest correlation. These will likely have the greatest impact. If you used values, use the calculated values in the far right column to determine ranking.
    • In this example, the team determined that programming self-healing of known repeated problems would be the greatest benefit. They also chose to add more phone agents to the help desk. While several people on the team initially thought the best solution was to have more technicians provide desk-side assistance, the analysis showed this was not likely to address customer priorities.

Relevant Definitions

Voice of customer: The input you get from customers on service requirements, feedback, etc.




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