Does Customer Experience Management include Products? Pricing?

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As the Customer Experience (CX) movement has taken hold over the past few years, there’s been a near consensus emerge in the industry that CX is about managing interactions between an organization and its customers, and doing so in a way that creates value for customers and (eventually) for the company as CX improves loyalty.

The CXPA for example, says:

The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of customer experience management practices. Our members are individuals who develop, manage, optimize, and envision how organizations interact with their customers.

Gartner defines CEM as as: “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”

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In a recent post about the difference between customer experience and customer engagement, industry experts were nearly unanimous that CX is about interactions, or more precisely, how customers perceive interactions.

Clearly interactions include people and systems. But don’t customers also interact with products? Don’t they also form perceptions based on pricing? Some brands, for example, create “value” for customers with a constant stream of discounts, which appeals to some.

Furthermore, in a comment on his recent CX post, Phil Klaus (Professor of Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy at ESCE International Business School, Paris) says:

Our research, leading back now 10 years highlights that CX, as in how customers perceive the value of a product/service in use, is (unlike price and product category) the key driver of consumer/customer behavior.

So, I’m now confused. I thought CX/CEM was about interactions, but now I’m not so sure. Should the scope of CX also be concerned with how customers perceive the products they use? The pricing they receive?

60 COMMENTS

  1. From my consulting and research work, the scope of experience is anything (and everything) that touches or influences the customer in his/her relationship with a brand or vendor. All, for example, have an emotional subtext (even tangible elements like product and price) which impacts perception and downstream behavior.

    Where customer experience begins to become a bit trickier and slightly more abstract is in understanding the direct and indirect, quasi-experience and quasi-relationship, effect of elements like corporate or brand reputation/image on behavior. Reputation and image don’t always come out of specific experience, and can also be leveraged by the perception of others. That said, there is a mountain of evidence that image and reputation helps to shape key emotions like trust, which can directly shape customer behavior: http://customerthink.com/corporate_reputation_and_advocacy_linkage/

  2. Bob,

    I have been in the CX game since the late 80s (it wasn’t called that then but the intent was the same) and long came to the conclusion that CX can only be an holistic concept. For me it is everything that shapes a customers opinion about a company and therefore must include product and price; although the latter is best expressed as value for money because that is how the customer assesses it.

    If you think about it, excluding anything that shapes the customer’s view is almost a contradiction. It also worries me that by fragmenting the view of CX, companies will misplace the investments needed to improve the customer’s buying habits.

    I included a brief summary of my take on the elements of CX in an ebook (http://mktg.clicktools.com/go?iv=d6yhtzy8o1287) published a few years ago. A more detailed paper called ‘Unpacking the Customer Experience’ is also available.

    Regards

    Dave J

  3. Michael,

    I include reputation/brand in CX just because it is a real influencer on experience – if you hold to the view that experience is the totality of what shapes a customer’s actions.

    For example, how many people boycott some clothing manufacturers because of their supposed use of child labor or how many stopped buying BP gas because of the Gulf oil spillage?

    Regards

    Dave J

  4. The CXPA has adopted a definition for customer experience that Temkin Group has been using since its inception: Customer experience (CX) is the “Perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization.” Let’s stop having debates about the definition, and use that one.

    CX management is what a company does to affect interactions for the purpose of altering (or maintaining) the perceptions of customers. Every interaction comes into play, including marketing ads on TV, service communications, sales interactions, and experiences using a company’s products and services.

    To answer your the questions directly: Yes, CX management does encompass products and pricing. CX should be a consideration in defining, creating, enhancing, and eliminating all of your products.

    I highly, highly recommend that you take a look at the new Temkin Group video, “What is Customer Experience?” https://experiencematters.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/what-is-customer-experience-video/

  5. Good question, Bob. And I agree with the comments by Michael, David and Bruce that customer experience is defined by customer’s perceptions, and involves all the things they experience (people, processes, policies, prices, business models, messages, AND products and services).

    As a customer myself, the product/service that I’m buying is the #1 important factor, and all of the rest supports my use of the product/service to achieve my intended outcomes.

    If we think we can take product/service out of the CX equation then we’re ignoring the reason why people do business with us in the first place, and we’re focusing on the sizzle at the expense of the substance.

    If we choose to use the phrase “interactions” as the umbrella term we should make sure stakeholders understand it that way, to prevent the questions that arose in the blog post, which I know are shared by lots of people.

    I recommend these 2 sideshare files for socializing the definitions of CX with stakeholders:

    Glossary: http://www.slideshare.net/clearaction/customer-care-crm-customer-experience-whats-the-difference

    Slide deck: http://www.slideshare.net/clearaction/what-is-customer-experience-17086729

    –Lynn

  6. Hello Bob,

    Some while ago, I grappled with the matter that you raise here. In a conversation titled Customer Experience: What About The Product I concluded with the following:

    “The product is not in one domain and Customer Experience in another domain. Any serious examination of the Customer Experience has to grapple with the product and how well it does the job that the customer is hiring it to do. That means designing that product so that it is both useful (does the job) and usable (easy/intuitive) to use.”

    You can access the whole conversation by clicking on the following URL:

    http://thecustomerblog.co.uk/2012/07/26/customer-experience-what-about-the-product/

    At that time, it occurred to me that I was not a member of the Customer Experience = Customer Interaction Management. And I continue not to be in that school of thought. Then, I have always been comfortable in being in the minority! Wouldn’t want it any other way.

    All the best
    maz

  7. Phil Klaus has defined CX as being Customer Value. I have been always suggesting that CX does not go beyond interactions (and I believe we should minimise interactions, not meaning usage of a product). At every turn, CRM, Customer Journey, CX have been discovering that these do not define why people buy, value does (is it worth it to interact with, buy from this company, buy this product), and integral part of the value/buying decision is the CX, the Journey, the satisfaction, etc.
    That is why we started the Customer Value Creation group

  8. Thoughtful answers all.
    For me CX is simply everything (thought, perception, feeling) that occupies space in a customer’s head about to an organization (and what they offer/do). From a practitioners standpoint CX is about deliberately managing and controlling what gets into that space for a desired outcome. So the long way to answer Bob’s questions are “yes” and “yes” (it’s everything, product, price, design, etc.)

  9. I agree with many of the points made here that customer experience is the sum of the ways in which customers experience a brand and that includes the classic 5 p’s of marketing in my view: product, price, place, promotion and people. LEGO is a great example of a brand that creates a distinctive experience through its product. Gifgaff is an example of a brand that creates a distinctive experience through its pricing strategy. (Customers participate in the discussion about pricing bundles for example).

    Where I disagree, is Bruce Temkin’s remark, “Let’s stop having debates about the definition, and use that (CXPA) one.” Customer Experience as a concept existed long before CXPA and the Temkin Group. I find the suggestion that all we need do is to accept the CXPA definition and watch Bruce’s latest video arrogant in the extreme. The day we stop debating these issues is the day we stop learning and improving the concept.

  10. Just as customer advocacy and brand bonding have been an evolutionary enhancement of satisfaction, retention and loyalty over the past thirty years – i.e. the movement from a largely attitude-based approach to understanding behavior to one that seeks to interpret the influence of the emotional response of product/service experience and image/reputation – similar thinking can be applied to the financial and behavioral value of experience management over loyalty management.

    Loyalty management is principally about getting the customer to purchase more, refer more, and also become somewhat more brand-attached. It’s mostly about push, with some pull thrown in. It’s both tactical and strategic, with perhaps greater emphasis on the tactical. A good example of the limitations of loyalty management can be seen in performance shortfalls and related challenges resulting from commoditized loyalty programs: http://customerthink.com/mckinsey-thinks-bland-generic-loyalty-programs-are-killing-business-and-they-may-be-right/

    Experience programs, by their very nature (and consistent with much of the dialogue around your blog), have to do with everything that touches the customer or influences his/her behavior. Just as service is a component of experience (which is largely why CES is so limited a metric), so are loyalty management programs. Simply stated, experience is holistic, and loyalty is not.

    Finally, as a post-script, I’d like to express general support for Shaun Smith’s response, especially agreement regarding both the broad, and continually morphing, nature of customer experience. And, CXPA ought not, de facto, have the hubris to consider itself the sole, official defining agent for customer experience. To quote Isaac Asimov: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

  11. According to the Gartner web site:
    >>
    Gartner defines customer experience management (CEM) as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.” It is a strategy that requires process change and many technologies to accomplish.
    >>

    From Wikipedia (along with numerous other sources), the argument is that experiences are different from products and pricing.
    >>
    With products becoming commoditized, price differentiation no longer sustainable, and customers demanding more, companies – particularly communications service providers (landline, wireless, broadband, cable, satellite, etc.) – are focusing on delivering superior customer experiences. A study in the year of 2009 on 860 corporate executives revealed that companies that have increased their investment in customer experience management over the past three years report higher customer referral rates and customer satisfaction (Strativity Group, 2009).[3]

    The customer experience has emerged as the single most important aspect in achieving success for companies across all industries (Peppers and Rogers 2005).[4] For example, Starbucks spent less than $10MM on advertising from 1987 to 1998 yet added over 2,000 new stores to accommodate growing sales. Starbucks’ popularity is based on the experience that drove its customers to highly recommend their store to friends and family.[5]
    >>

    I get it conceptually that the total customer experience includes products and anything that leaves an impression. A few years ago I did a consumer study and included “product usage” as one of the categories.

    Yet as the industry has grown, I almost never hear or read anyone talking about products (or pricing) in the context of CEM. Instead, CX/CEM is constantly promoted as the savior for companies who can no longer differentiate based on products or pricing.

    At CustomerThink, we have published over 7,000 posts that mention CX, CEM, or Customer Experience Management. Aside from Maz’s post and a handful of others, products are not discussed as being part of CX thinking.

    Summing up, how is that differentiating based on “experiences” can be the key to success when experiences include products and pricing?

  12. This is a very worthwhile dialogue. To your question, a couple of points:

    – Product: I’ve done a number of what are termed ‘OOBE’, or ‘out of box experience’, studies, where the functional and emotional response to early use of a product can be assessed. Functional performance always has an emotional subtext, and product tangibles (accuracy, convenience, durability, etc.) can impact both trust level overall brand perception and image.

    – Prciing: Price, or price/value, which is tangible and emotional, is always an element of experience. If a customer perceives a low price for value received, then heshe is happy, a positive emotion. If a customer perceives a high price for value perceived, then he/she is annoyed or unhappy, negative emotions. If a vendor places too much emphasis on price, to the exclusion or reduction of other value elements, then there is danger of experience commoditization: http://customerthink.com/one-trick-ponies-and-customer-loyalty-behavior/

    Note: Target has just closed all of its 133 stores in Canada, laying off over 17,000 employees and taking a $5 billion loss. One of the most frequently cited reasons for this failure, by analysts and customers alike, is overpricing. Following the line of reasoning that price contributes to the experience, both tangibly and emotionally, then it also contributes (along with poor quality products, empty shelves, and the lack of an online shopping alternative) when the experience doesn’t work for customers.

  13. Bob,

    I think the challenge that you’re seeing is not that we don’t see that product is important to CX. Insead, it’s because most of us CX folks spend our time communicating that its not JUST about product. And, as a result, we don’t write much about the product experience. This focus can certainly lead people to believe that product isn’t a part of the customer experience. However, that would be a mistake.

    Typically, one of our goals when we work with an organization is to counter-balance the “it’s all about the product” focus that is easy to fall into. Just because you build a better mousetrap, the world won’t beat a path to your door if that door is hard to open and the path isn’t maintained and it’s hard to find. So we end up writing about interactions, websites, etc. The “path” to the mousetrap.

    What we forget to mention is that, once you have a clear path that’s easy to find, if the mousetrap doesn’t effectively catch mice, or is hard to operate or frequently fails, all the lighting and clearing of the path won’t lead to customers coming back.

    Product is certainly part of the experience – it’s just not the part of the equation that typically needs additional focus.

    Jim

  14. I need to preface my remarks by saying I’ve been in the automotive industry since 1986. It’s what I know. I’m a car guy. The North American International Auto Show is on in Detroit right now and for anyone who has wandered through a show like this, it becomes readily evident that nobody makes a bad vehicle anymore. The market is incredibly competitive with lots of choice available for customers.

    Because of this, the next competitive battlefield will be the customer experience.

    This is especially important for dealerships selling the same brand of vehicle. If Toyota dealership A delivers better customer service than Toyota dealership B – Toyota dealership A tends to win.

    That being said, how the customer interacts with the product and how much they pay for it is an absolutely essential element of the customer experience in the automotive industry. The old adage that cars are the 2nd most expensive product someone will purchase means that it’s a high involvement (and pricey) purchase. Because of this, the customer has more vested interest in how the product performs, its quality, its durability, and the way it makes them feel when driving down the open road.

    Depending on the segment, cars can be a very emotional purchase. It’s the amalgam of all these factors that contribute to the customer experience and astute vehicle manufacturers know this and recognize the importance of the car or truck in delivering a good or bad customer experience.

  15. Thanks to all for weighing in. The CX experts have spoken, and CEM officially includes everything, products, pricing, … whatever the customer perceives.

    Here’s something that I still find confusing. I’ll use the comment by Chris Travell to illustrate what I’ve read hundreds of times in the past few years.

    On the one hand, Chris says (like everyone else), that “how the customer interacts with the product and how much they pay for it is an absolutely essential element of the customer experience in the automotive industry.”

    But earlier he also says: “The next competitive battlefield will be the customer experience. This is especially important for dealerships selling the same brand of vehicle. If Toyota dealership A delivers better customer service than Toyota dealership B – Toyota dealership A tends to win.”

    These statements are inconsistent. How can you differentiate based on “the customer experience” — when it includes everything?

    Sorry, it’s seems obvious from this comment and many others that despite what you’re all saying CX/CEM includes, from a practical standpoint when you say “differentiate based on customer experience” you mean interactions with the company *other* than product or price.

  16. Bob, you raise an interesting question and one that lies at the heart of misconceptions about customer experience. Customers cannot NOT have an experience. The only question is it one that creates value for them and differentiates the brand in a positive way? Way back in 2001 I wrote a book called ‘Managing the customer experience’. In it I defined a branded customer experience as one that is ‘Consistent, Intentional, Differentiated and Valuable’ be that via product, place, promotion, pricing or people or, a mixture of all of these. I think these criteria still work today. All of which to say that customer experience per se does not differentiate brands but only if the experience is distinctive to the brand and valuable to the customer. As my friend Sampson Lee says, it is the difference between an unbranded customer experience and a branded one that creates the impact.

    For example, turning to Chris Travell’s post, the nature of the Lexus customer experience (Lexus Total Care) is quite different to the BMW customer experience (The joy of driving) because they are designed to appeal to different consumers but each is consistent, intentional different and valuable to the target customer. For example, BMW tunes the exhaust note to sound sporty, Lexus tunes out all exterior sound to create a cosseting environment. Finally, we often say that you can differentiate the experience by ‘type’ or ‘degree’. So Six Senses Resorts differentiates by type, doing some things very differently, Ritz-Carlton differentiates by degree, doing a lot of things just that little bit better than competitors. Hope this helps to stimulate the debate.

  17. Friends, by definition we can make everything cover everuthing
    Thus CX can cover product pricing (why do people continue to buy where they sometimes get bad experience? If you are a loyal AA frequent flyer and you get a horrible experience (the steward spills coffee on you, the flight is late and the baggage never shows) will you stop flying with them? And you come back by UA and everything is perfect. They even upgrade you. Will you dump AA?
    And if you have no experience with a third airline will you not buy from them?
    And do you want more experience or less with a vendor. Less may be better.

    And if you are a CRM guy you can say CRM covers the product and the price, because the relationship with the customer covers all this.

    CX is CX and that is what it is. Important for all aspects of business. Important because it builds value and confidence for the customer, but it is a builder of value and nbot ecp

    I again say perceiving better value causes someone to buy, ins spite of the good experiences of the past. I owned Hondas for many years and had great experiences. And once I tried another vendor in India (Suzuki because of the product/price relationship, i.e. better value) and I became a convert to Suzuki.

    Let us not make experience the same as value, we will tie ourselves in knots. We should note experience is truly important in building value. And when experiences are like, it is difficult to choose.

    Lets think also of Value Creation

  18. Though customer experience represents a number of elements and touchpoints, it doesn’t mean that each one is equal to the other in driving behavior. Situation to situation, one, or more, can have greater impact on what customers do downstream..

    The service component of experience often takes on more leverage where higher monetary value, and accompanying higher emotional involvement, is concerned. Examples are large cash outlay situations, such as investments and banking, travel and leisure, jewelry,furniture, housing – – and vehicles. A few years ago, one of my blogs addressed how one group of auto dealerships differentiated key facets of its experience: http://customerthink.com/how_auto_dealer_group_builds_trust/

  19. Hi Bob
    I’ll keep this simple. The customers’ experience includes the product, how they buy the product, use the product, maintain the product, have the product serviced, and sell the product when they are done with it. So, yes…product is included.

    Jeanne

  20. Can anyone provide an example from one of your client engagements where the “product” part of the customer experience was “managed” in some way.

    Again, I get it conceptually that the customer’s experience includes everything. I just haven’t seen much evidence that CEM projects actually address product issues. Examples, please!

  21. Bob,

    Yes I can offer a very good example. One of our clients, Premier Inn, is now the most admired budget hotel brand in the UK with 700 hotels and 19,000 people.

    We have been working with them for the past two years on a customer experience project and have conducted research, defined the brand promise, designed the experience and trained all their people. One of the decisions taken, based on the research, was that room comfort was a hallmark touchpoint for the brand. As a result, Premier Inn decided to make the bed the ‘hero’ and has invested heavily in buying state of the art Hypnos beds. They also feature as the primary focus of their new advertising campaign.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpl9-QO2bC0

    The brand purpose is ‘Making guests feel brilliant through a great night’s sleep’. There will be a full case study on this in my new book ‘On Purpose’ later this year.

  22. Hello Bob,
    For an insurance client, as a part of a CX and digital strategy engagement, after listening to and experiencing the voice of the customer, I made the following recommendations:

    1. Change the names of the products so that the names speak to the customers – that is to say that the names are meaningful to customers, that the name conveys information that helps the customer select the right ones for his/her needs;

    2. Modify each product such that there is a price for a core set of features and allow the online visitor (potential customer, existing customer) to add to or take away from this core list of features (customising the product) and display the associated price. This enables value conscious buyers to reduce features to arrive at price. And not-price conscious buyers to add features to meet a given budget; and

    3. Use the language of the customer to list-explain the core features of each product and to convey the core terms and conditions as opposed to using medical jargon and legalese.

    Some of these recommendations (the easier ones) were implemented. And in the process conversion rates (website buying) improved significantly.

    All the best.
    maz

  23. Hi Bob!
    Having a say in product development and product launch and product sustainability is especially a key part of the role of the CCO or CXO role, etc. in SaaS businesses.

    I have many clients where we are working side by side with the product development folks as they develop products and launch plans and plans for embedding customer facing experiences right into the product. In fact I was just interviewing a Chief Customer Officer yesterday who said that she would not take the CCO role in a tech company if she did not have a seat at the table in the product development cycle and process.

    We are also actively involved in more traditional businesses. For example in power sports equipment clients, clients are engaging as part of their role in the build out of the product based on behavioral experiences with the product, as well as contributing to product innovation with insights. We are also actively involved in the after-sale aspects of product service, etc…all of which has to be addressed upstream as the product is in development.

    Thanks for the great discussions!
    J

  24. It seems that we all are tied up in our definitional underwear. While I don’t have the hubris (great word, Michael) to presume that my definitions are universal, i think the failure to distinguish between customer “loyalty” and “experience” is a major part of the problem.

    Talking about loyalty no longer is sexy and often is confused with loyalty programs. So everyone rebranded themselves as “CX” experts and starting measuring experiences, but most never differentiated between loyalty and experience and used the terms seemingly interchangably. So confusion seemed inevitable.

    Loyalty, i would argure, is a relationship concept and it is operationalized in terms of customer behaviors that drive value to a company: continuing to be a customer, buying more stuff, buying more expensive stuff and recommending the company to others. While each and every experience is an opportunity to reinforce the strength of the relationship (loyalty, that is), the experience is not the same as loyalty, and loyalty is more than the sum of the experiences (See http://customerthink.com/add_1_tablespoon_experience_blend_and_serve_the_experience_loyalty_value_connection/ or http://customerthink.com/the_customer_loyaltycustomer_experience_conundrum_by_howard_lax/.)

    While i know this is heresy in the “CX Economy,” the reality is that loyalty is the outcome that ultimately matters, as it is what drives customer lifetime value. The customer experience, on the other hand, is a critical input in cementing the ongoing customer, relationship, but maximizing the customer experience generally matters only insofar as the experience also drives loyalty. Optimizing each and every experience regardless of its impact on loyalty is a recipe for financial disaster . . . unless, perhaps, you truly are in the business of selling experiences (See http://customerthink.com/wouldnt_it_be_great_to_be_in_the_customer_experience_business_by_howard_lax/.)

    So back to the original question: are pricing and product aspects of the customer experience? While consumers obviously “experience” the product and the price, including these items as “experiences” just further confounds the distinction between loyalty and experiences.

  25. Thanks, Bob, for asking this question. If we define CX as interactions – or any interaction the customer has with a company … which is how I would also define it – then I believe that product and price are included.

  26. Thanks, Howard for raising what we are seeking. I guess we are trying to get customers to buy and re-buy (the latter requires loyalty). A good experience is necessary, but not a sufficient reason to buy. Buying decisions are made versus competition and what customers perceive as value

  27. Contribution to the creation of value through higher and lasting customer engagement has to be the outcome of any good CX program. The rest is all semantics.Customers , prior to engaging on any CX initiative demand to see value outcomes and the reason why most proposed CX initiatives remain still born is precisely because such value definition gets lost in the din of nuanced definitions of what CX is all about. Nuances that perhaps matter most to consultants and theoreticians rather than paying customers.The CX community in this quest for nuanced definitions faces the serious prospect of CX being designated to another fad/label, aka SCM/CRM/ERP etc.Perhaps we should expend our energies on how we put CX squarely on the agenda of the CXO through solid value delivery making it a critical “must have” as opposed to the current “nice to have” ?

  28. Thanks to all for this amazing discussion. I especially appreciate the examples of where companies are including products in their CX design efforts.

    I think the important nuance of “competing with a distinctive (or branded) experience” — which can and should include products and pricing — has been lost in flood of content and marketing about interactions.

    Instead, the more common way that CX/CEM has been positioned is as an *alternative* to product or price, where it’s clear that the CX = interactions. In my opinion, this has created a market perception CEM is really about how to improve interactions, with customer service being the big one of interest.

    I wanted to share a few perspectives from the analyst community. These are influential organizations that have an impact on what people think.

    Ed Thompson, who has been a lead analyst on both CRM and CEM, says that “yes, we include aspects of the product in CEM,” which Gartner defines as: “The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions in order to meet or exceed customer expectations and so increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”

    He also says that Gartner has “expanded the metrics we look at to include those that cover aspects of core product or service quality because we find many organizations measure them as part of their CX initatives.”

    In “Outside-In” — a CX book by Forrester analysts Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, customer experience is defined as “how your customers perceive their interactions with your company.” That includes “every time they interact with a product, a service, a person, or an automated system.”

    Aberdeen (according to a survey invite I just received) defines CEM as: “Any business activity (e.g. Marketing, Sales, and Service) that has a direct or indirect impact on influencing customer behavior throughout the customer lifecycle – customer acquisition to customer loyalty.”

    One final thought: the term “interaction” is part of the problem. The most common interpretation is two things that influence each other. I think trying to redefine interact as any perception or thought is a bridge too far. For example, I have a perception about my insurance policy. It has value based on how it covers liability. I don’t interact with it, and rarely use it. While I value the time spent with a broker buying the policy, and also appreciate an easy claim experience, I find it awkward to think about the product (policy) as an experience simply because I can think about it.

    I’m sure I don’t need to preach to this group that “perception is reality” because you’ve basically all said that CX is about customer perceptions.

    What I would ask the CX thought leaders and advocates to do is have an open and honest conversation with your clients and business associates. Instead of telling them what CEM is, ask them what they think it means.

  29. Journey maps are one of the most common “tools of the trade” for CX professionals.

    Most journey maps I’ve seen leave out products, and I’ve never seen pricing included.

    Here’s a recent example, showing 11 phases and ~100 touchpoints:
    http://www.ingeniousgrowth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Sample-CiMap.png
    (See A new approach to designing Customer Experiences for details about this graphic.)

    While there is a “use” phase, the touchpoints are interactions about the product (inquiries), not usage.

    This is a good example of why I say the perception is that CX/CEM is about managing interactions around the product, not the usage of the product itself.

    And pricing? Almost never mentioned except perhaps dealing with customer service, where customer calls to ask about a bill. That touchpoint is a service interaction, not a perception about the price itself.

    Can anyone share an example of a journey maps that includes usage of, or perceptions about, products or pricing?

    Is there some other way that products or pricing are “managed” by CX professionals?

  30. Hello Bob,

    You assertion is correct. As practiced folks doing CX and (their CX gurus, advisors, consultants) do not include significant elements of the customer experience: product, price, packaging, the look+feel of the store, the reputation of the brand/co etc..

    So why is this the case? Take a look at the background of the CX gurus. Where do they tend to come from? My research suggests that they come from Customer Service, Marketing and some from Technology backgrounds. They don’t come from a product background. Put differently, the CX gurus and the folks doing CX know nothing meaningful about product: product design and development. Hence, a reluctance to go there. Include the customer service and you can get busy mapping-redesigning processes, changing job descriptions, doing training, putting in new systems – all stuff these folks are used to. Not the case when it comes to bring about a fundamental change in the product.

    If you look at the IT industry you find that the what is termed as CX or not CX depends on what aspects of the technology landscape are taken. So voice of the customer which never made it into the CRM category became a natural candidate for the CX category. Yet, customer service systems which are essential to contact centres and influence/impact the customer’s experience of service (by contact centre agent) are in the CRM system. Then you have a bunch of digital technologies like web content management systems, websites and social listening. They have been pulled into the CX category as this is more fashionable than the web/digital bucket.

    What has and has not been included in the CXM bucket is largely a matter of convenience to those who have been influential in creating the CXM bucket. There is absolutely no logical relationship between what is included in the CXM bucket and what actually influences the customer’s experience of the organisation. Incidentally, many of us experience an organisation even before we interact with that organisation. How so? It is called reputation. Sometimes affecting the customer’s experience means the astute exercise of PR. And that part is also not included in CXM.

    All the best
    maz

  31. Hi Bob
    In my work in the Power Sports industry we always include the pricing and product usage in the journey map. It is critical because the product engineers are such a power core of the company and we need to engage them in the immense role they play in the overall experience.

    I’d have to get permission to see if i can drop in their journey map we created.

  32. Bob,

    Perhaps this comes back to the definition of product. If you talk about a physical product, it’s true that the CX community is rarely involved in the product development. If we take the fun example of a nerf ball, then a journey map is more likely to focus in on how a mother shops for and purchases the nerf ball for her child. Does that mean that CX doesn’t care about the product? No – but that other parts of the organization already focus on that. As mentioned above, the CX organization is usually created to balance the product focus that likely already exists in the company.

    If we look at service examples – such as health insurance – then pricing and product are ALWAYS key parts of the journey map. I can’t share our actual health insurance journey map, since they’re done for a client and are thus proprietary. But the purchase map focuses specifically on price and the customers’ perspectives selecting (including what “price” means for different segments – premium, or full usage). You can see a hint of it in this genericized map (http://www.heartofthecustomer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/HoTC_Map_11x17_web.jpg), although we don’t include detail in this public map.

    I’m currently working with a software provider on a sales journey map, and pricing is a huge part of this map, including all that price means – not just purchase price, but the costs to implement and ongoing cost-per-transaction.

    And the “product” is clearly a part of the journey map when we look at interactions such as filing a claim, or our current work on studying the radiology experience for a hospital.

    So I don’t know that I agree with your contention that pricing and product are never included. They certainly are in ours.

  33. Jeanne, I would love to see that example. Hope your client will allow.

    Jim, I love your journey maps. However, I don’t agree that interactions about picking a policy is the same as the policy itself or the price itself.

    When I buy an insurance policy, the main “value” I get is the coverage, and the price associated with that coverage.

    That doesn’t mean the interactions aren’t important, far from it. Especially so if policies are viewed as a commodity.

    I recently bought a condo and wanted to continue to buy from AAA. Despite being a long-term loyal customer, their underwriters would not issue a policy because of some arcane issues about condos I didn’t understand.

    So I went to Geico, because some of my wife’s friends recommended it. Called Geico and the process was great. Got the policy I wanted at a good price, very efficiently.

    Perhaps the problem is that CX journey maps are not really the right way to deal with the value associated with some products or pricing, aside from the interactions to understand, purchase and ask questions or get service about the product or price.

  34. Bob –

    As I think you’re aware, customer journey mapping is a core practice area of Beyond Philosophy, and has been for over a decade. Product and pricing, as integral elements of the customer experience, enter into exercises and experience design/redesign on virtually every project. I’d leave it to Colin Shaw to provide details.

    Michael

  35. Bob, you’re certainly right that not everything is best described through a journey map. (Wow, that was hard to actually type!)

    I think it does get back to your definition of the product. Going with your condo insurance, if you’re trying to understand how consumers purchase the product, a journey map is a great idea. If you want to understand how customers view the trade-off between price and coverage choices, that would make a really ugly journey map!

  36. I think we have to remember that the journey map is created from the customer’s perspective and is a walk in his shoes.

    Let’s start with price. How is that a touchpoint or part of CEM? Your map example is much too high level to show the steps the customer is going through or to allow for meaningful experience (re)design; as such, you aren’t able to see where price or product fits in here.

    I’d create microjourneys to further drill into the “Decide” stage… price is a huge factor for the customer here (assuming most customers care about price). It’s likely also a factor in the Renew/Repurchase stage. It is one more item/touchpoint that impacts how the customer feels about the brand and the experience overall. Consider what the customer is doing, thinking, feeling when he sees the price. That’s where the map stems from.

    As for the product, again, the example map needs to drill down into how the customer uses the product, from taking delivery to installation to usage to swapping out parts, etc. Each one of those are journeys on their own. I dare you to tell a UX guy that product isn’t part of the experience! 😉

    I worked with a client in the fall to build maps like this, but I can’t share them.

  37. Michael, yes I’m aware. My perception is that the early CX thought leaders (Colin Shaw and Shaun Smith are certainly in that group) have a more strategic view of “delivering a differentiated customer experience” (including products and pricing), which is another way of saying delivering the complete value proposition in my view (and I think Gautam’s as well).

    Since then, the majority of CX consultants, and virtually all of the vendors, have focused on the low-hanging fruit (as Maz suggests) of improving customer service and other interactions — where interactions doesn’t mean the design/redesign of the core product/service being sold, or how it’s priced. That’s what they do, that’s what they write about, that’s what they speak about, that’s what the journey maps show (with a few notable exceptions mentioned here.)

    If the strategic view of CX = everything is to prevail, thought leaders need to share more about how CXM deals with products and pricing, and other parts of perceived value (like brand reputation). So I’m hoping to see something from Colin and others to help open eyes.

    Otherwise, this could go the way of CRM, where early thought leaders (myself included) portrayed it as a loyalty-building strategy around customer-perceived value. Of course that is not how CRM is perceived today. This gap between perception and reality is what motivated me to rename this community from CRMGuru.com to CustomerThink.com in 2007 (http://customerthink.com/crmguru_is_now_customerthink/).

    As Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Vendors were blamed for “hijacking CRM” and turning it into a product. This time, consultants have taken the lead in defining what CXM means. If CXM comes to mean non-product/price interactions, I don’t think vendors can be blamed.

  38. Bob,

    I am honored to be included in your ‘early thought leader group’!

    You asked that we share some more thoughts on the issue of ‘does CX cover products and pricing?’ I certainly think that is does. I completely agree with you Bob, that it is about delivering the complete value proposition and, in fact, that is always our starting point when we work with clients at Smith+co.

    We conduct a CEM+ survey with the target customers and sort their expectations into four main categories of the value equation, ‘Product Quality, Service Quality, Price and Hassle’ (cost of inconvenience). We then conduct multiple regression analysis to identify which of the many attributes sitting under each of these dimensions are the primary drivers of satisfaction, retention or advocacy. We then use the insight gained from this to craft the brand promise. In the case of our client Premier Inn, the leading UK hotel brand, the main dimensions of their brand promise are ‘Great Rooms, Great People, Great Value’ so clearly product and price are part of the experience they intend to offer. Obviously, there is a great deal of detail sitting under these dimensions that confidentiality will not allow me to share but you get the point.

    The next step is to map the current and desired experience curves based on NPS or similar. Once again, we would usually expect product and, perhaps, price or cost to feature here depending on the nature of the sector. In the case of Premier Inn an experience hallmark was the bed and this in fact became the focus or ‘hero’ of their most recent advertising campaign and their ‘Good Night Guarantee’ promise. This seems to have worked because they have just been awarded best midscale brand for 2015 on the basis of their customer experience.

    In the case of one of our b2b software customers ‘product value’ was identified as a primary driver, in other words, their client perceiving the business benefit of using the product. Our customer had not previously identified this as important and there was no touchpoint associated with it. As a result of the CEM+ survey we identified its importance and created a touchpoint where each quarter the account manager would meet with their client to review how the product had performed over the previous period and the value that had been created for the client’s business as a result. This was a touchpoint that was created to increase the client’s experience of the product and value for money perception of it.

    Space will not allow me to go into more detail but if readers would like to know more they can download a fee fact sheet from my web site here;

    http://www.smithcoconsultancy.com/cem-tools/customer-experience-management-survey

    In conclusion, for me customer experience is about how the customer experiences a brand, across every touchpoint and interaction and that includes paying for the product and using it. Apple has just announced record results and is the most successful company in corporate history. Is it a product brand or an experience brand?

    So, to return to your question, why is customer experience being dumbed down? I think perhaps because there are a lot of customer service training companies out there who have jumped on the bandwagon and repositioned themselves as ‘customer experience consultants’ but continue applying a tactical solution to what should be a strategic concept. As a result they focus on the service interaction rather than the complete brand experience.

  39. Bob, while I agree with your masterful summary, I also believe, we should be willing to move up the value chain. What you suggest is delivering differentiated CX etc. but you also agree it is delivering the complete value proposition… so lets move up, because part of what I am proposing is to change corporates to agree that their purpose is not to create profits but to cultivate and build businesses around customers, and to do this they have to create customer value…and therefore all of us must start thinking beyond what we are preaching today

  40. Shaun, thanks for your thoughtful input.

    Your B2B software example is a great illustration of how to increase the perceived value (and that’s all that really matters) of an existing product.

    However, if you’ll allow me to quibble, the quarterly meeting is an experience *around* the product. It’s not an interaction with the product itself.

    I’m still not seeing much in the way of examples about CXM including product design/redesign. So sure, CX includes product interactions. But CXM seems to largely ignore the core product and seeks to increase perceived value by improving experiences *around* the product. Not the same thing as improving the product itself.

    That’s pretty well in line with what Pine/Gilmore wrote in “The Experience Economy,” where products are viewed as part of the props on stage. And it’s how Jan Carlzon wrote about customer experience in “Moments of Truth.” To turnaround SAS in the 1980s, he focused on touchpoints, not improving the aircraft itself.
    http://customerthink.com/jan_carlzon_moments_of_truth/

  41. Good write, Shaun
    It reiterates that value is what makes people come and the experiences (the bed) are important in creating value
    Your customer value measurement sounds like a Customer Value Added study, which Ray Kordupleski started

  42. Efforts to develop definitions that are “tight” and where the things defined are independent of each other tend to be a waste of time, because the world doesn’t work that way. We have all kinds of terms in customer service, most of which have “fuzzy borders”.

    I have to say this though. If you define something as including all things in a particular domain — the universe of possible “members”, what you’ve done is nothing. When everything can fall into a definition, and nothing is excluded, the definition becomes meaningless.

    The real question that I do think is worth asking is this: What are the actionable results of defining something one way vs. another way?

    Definitions are fairly arbitrary so to decide on a definition, one has to look at the FUNCTIONALITY of each possible definition.

  43. This discussion has been really eye opening for me. Apparently I’ve been taking much too narrow a view of CX/CXM — thinking it is mainly about interactions with people and systems.

    Since the view of the CX community is that CX/CXM encompasses every aspect of a customer-company relationship (all interactions, thoughts, feelings, perceptions) then it presents an interesting dilemma for me as the manager of the CustomerThink community.

    “Customer experience” is one of our big categories, but now it seems that CX includes all other topics. So categorizing a post as “customer experience” doesn’t really differentiate it from other content. So should I remove “customer experience” as a topic on the site?

    Said another way, is there anything *not* included in CX/CXM?

  44. Bob –

    Can’t speak for others, but from my perspective addressing customer experience as every aspect of a customer-company relationship (even indirect, but leveraging, elements such as reputation and image) that drive or influence b2b and b2c product/service decision-making keeps CustomerThink on safe ground.

    Important topics such as sales professionalism, packaging, advertising/promotion, actionable measurement, the influence of employees through ambassadorship and empowerment, level of enterprise customer-centricity, etc. are tangential to actual customer experience, but certainly feed into its effectiveness.

    Michael

  45. Please, no!

    Financials are part of every department’s concerns and responsibilities across a company. But we don’t call business management = financial management.

    Customer-centered thinking is likewise part of every department’s concerns and responsibilities across a company. But we don’t call business management = customer experience management.

    The topics are related, and to a degree, interdependent. But not interchangeable.

    Lynn

  46. OK, so if I’m understanding correctly, all the following activities would be considered “customer experiences,” right?
    * Communicate with an employee
    * Use an digital resource such as web site or mobile device
    * Visit a store
    * Receive and read a price promotion
    * Look at product listings online
    * Use an automated device to get information
    * Have a feeling about price relative to value received
    * Have a feeling about a company
    * Read an advertisement
    * Purchase a product or service
    * Use a product that is owned
    * Think about a product owned but not used
    * Have a service performed
    * Think about a product to buy
    * Have a feeling about overall company relationship

    Anything that should be added? Removed?

  47. Yes, all of those things are opportunities for a customer to form a perception about the company. It’s not an exhaustive list.

    Things that could be added include:
    * Felt frustrated about the company’s policy about X.
    * Felt pleasantly surprised (aka delighted) that the company called to say their monthly bill could be reduced, or how to get more out of a feature.
    * Was motivated to buy now that the company’s business model allows a lite version or SaaS or X access.
    * Thought they were getting the run-around because of the company’s processes for returning a product.
    * Wondered how to properly dispose of the product.
    * Received an automated mandatory product upgrade online.
    * Found out their personal data had been breached by hackers.
    * Received a personalized message from the company zeroing-in on a need at the right time.
    * Found out the service was now available at every X place.
    * Received a request to participate in a survey.
    * Found duplicate items on the billing statement.
    * Received a VIP discount.
    * Realizing that this product is or isn’t compatible with another product needed to accomplish something.
    * Had a feeling about the purchase’s implications on others who are involved in consuming or installing or using the product.

    . . . and so on.

    I hope that helps! I prefer to define customer experience as “customers’ realities in selecting, getting, and using a solution that enables a capability they want”.
    Customer Experience Definition

    –Lynn

  48. Thanks, Lynn! That’s an impressive list. Seems very comprehensive.

    Pardon me for asking a couple of dumb questions, but here goes:

    1. Is there anything you would *exclude* from CX/CXM? In other words, if a client asked you to do “x” you would say, “sorry that’s out of scope for CXM projects.”

    2. Does “interaction” mean the same thing as “experience”? Since CX is defined as interactions, it would seem they are synonyms.

  49. Yes, there are things I would say are out of the scope of customer experience management (CXM). But whatever customers experience while selecting, getting and using a solution is what they experience (CX).

    What enables/disables CX goodness/excellence?
    In expounding upon your list above, my parameters were the traditional 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion — all of those directly affect what customers experience. And I added to that these softer aspects of a company’s performance that have ripple effects on what customers experience: attitudes/culture, policies, processes, business models, affinities/alliances, oh, and yes, interactions. Don’t be mis-led by these parameters. They in themselves are not CX nor CXM. They are enablers or disablers of customer experience excellence.

    CX definition
    (Some people (not me) define customer experience as interactions per se, but what I saw in comments above is that they interpret the word “interactions” to mean more than person-to-person, or person-to-digital, but rather whatever the customer interacts with in the course of their dealings with the company, including products.)

    Difference between CX and CXM
    The difference between CX and CXM is that CX is ultimately defined by the customer, while CXM is the company’s efforts to orchestrate the enablers/disablers such that CX as interpreted by the customer matches what the company promised, as the customer expected.

    So what is CXM exactly?
    CXM specifically comprises:
    * customer-centered strategy
    * customer-centric culture
    * voice-of-the-customer
    * customer intelligence (analytics, data integration)
    * CX improvement and innovation (includes UX)
    * customer-centered employee engagement
    * customer engagement.

    See the visual model here: http://customerthink.com/customer-experience-strategy-do-this-not-that/

    What’s outside of scope?
    Anything outside of that list is out of scope for CXM projects.

    How is all this customer-centered stuff manageable?
    The way we handle “customer-centered” XYZ is by helping (facilitating) organizations throughout the company reframe what they do within the context of “why does this eventually matter to customers?” and “what does our customer intelligence imply about what I’m doing?”

    This is similar to the fact that every functional area manages people and budget and uses computers — that doesn’t mean they’re part of the HR or Finance or IT department; we likewise expect every functional area to manage what they do as informed by customer intelligence — one shortfall of this is that many companies don’t yet collect VoC or analyze it in the ways that are applicable and actionable widely.

    Is this new?
    By the way, the model shown above reflects the CXPA’s certification criteria, and what Forrester talks about as CX competencies, and what was written about in the book Outside In by Bodine and Manning (2012), and in the book The Customer-Driven Company by Whiteley (1991). I’m happy to say that I’ve created the first exam prep course for the CXPA’s certification, launched just this week, for anyone who’s interested in thoroughly understanding this CXM model.

    Lynn

  50. I like your note, Lynn. But do people buy on experience, or what something is worth to them? You may have great experiences, but next time you might buy from someone else (with whom you have no real experience, but a knowledge of the company and its product)

  51. Gautam, I believe your point is why it’s faulty to think of CX as interactions. If we reframe CX as “customers’ realities in selecting, getting, and using a solution” then it seems your scenario is included.

    That’s also why CXM is more than “managing/enticing interactions”. CXM is the list of customer-centered competencies described above because it must span the selecting, getting, and using phases of customers’ realities associated with any solution. Therefore, it includes reputation and findability and other aspects of selecting a solution.

    I’ve always thought so, as shown by the pre-purchase steps noted in one of my first blog posts on CustomerThink: Innovating the Customer Experience to Embrace Everything That Surrounds the Product.

    CXM in practice may not yet reflect all of the needed CXM competencies in many companies. Let’s not let common practice/shortfalls stand in the way of truths about a topic. For example, companies in an immature phase (i.e. startups) may not yet offer managerial training or wellness programs or counseling services to their employees, yet we know that companies in a mature phase do include these as part of the HRM (human resources management) competencies. As such, we would not say that just because everyone is not yet doing it, it can’t be truly part of HRM. HRM is what the label implies regardless of the number of companies fully deploying it.

  52. Hello Lynn,
    I believe CXM is based on interactions.
    What happens if the interaction does not reflect sales or the movement of a customer from one company to another. A great interaction may not mean new sales.

    Thus CX is basically experiences and interactions including emotional experiences, but not sufficient to predict future sales

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