Dumbed Down CX: Just Make It Easy, Stupid!

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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
— H. L. Mencken

Source: Carol M. Highsmith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The CX movement has been going strong for more than a decade now. Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of CX initiatives have been truly successful — meaning organizations have seen tangible business results or competitive differentiation.

Apparently, some think the answer is simple: stop trying to “delight” customers and instead just make things as easy as possible. The answer to a complex problem is to dumb it down to something everyone can understand without thinking: Just make it easy!

Am I saying reducing effort is not important? Or that you should try to “delight” customers on every interaction? Of course not. That would be equally stupid!

Origin of the “Stop Delighting” Myth

I’m dismayed that a respected publisher like HBR would allow a clickbait headline like Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. If you actually read the 2010 article, you’ll find that a more accurate title would be “Stop Placating Your Customers, Get It Right the First Time.” The study is based on a grand total of 100 customer service heads in a contact center. As I reported in my rebuttal:

The CEB study found that 89 of 100 customer service heads wanted to exceed customer expectations, with extras like “offering a refund, a free product, or a free service such as expedited shipping.” Yet 84% of customers didn’t feel their expectations were exceeded. As a result: customers were “only marginally more loyal than simply meeting their needs.”

What’s wrong with this? When something doesn’t work as expected, giving an accommodation is not exceeding customer expectations — it’s making up for not meeting customer expectations. But the CEB (now part of Gartner) slapped “delight” on this behavior in a contact center scenario and concluded delight is a waste of time. Wow.

Stop Delighting 2.0

And now, this nonsense is being repeated as a CX factoid. One example is this recent post on CustomerThink, where a CRM analyst is quoted as saying: “You simply cannot delight your customers all the time.”

Well, duh. This is a strawman argument — a fallacy presented to justify another approach. Because you can’t delight customers all of the time, you should focus on making things easy instead.

The problem: Delight is by definition something that is a surprise. So, saying you can’t delight customers all the time is like saying you can’t make the sun rise in the west each morning. True but meaningless. I’ve asked for examples of delight-all-the-time companies, and so far have received none. Because it makes no sense to delight all the time. So no one does it. There’s no need to stop doing something no one is doing.

A second argument I see a lot is: “OMG, think of the expense! We’ll delight ourselves out of business!” The answer, apparently, is to just do what the customer asks and no more.

The problem: When you deliver just what the customer expects the result is a “satisfied” customer, but not one is that is necessarily loyal. Also, your competitors are trying to steal your customers by offering more. That’s why elite brands are constantly innovating. True loyalty (retention plus advocacy) requires exceeding customer expectations some of the time (delight), which creates a positive feeling.

Or so says Warren Buffett, one of the richest men alive:

“Any business with delighted customers has a sales force they won’t have to pay; You don’t see them, but they are talking to people all the time.”

Finally, not all forms of delight cost money. How expensive is it to smile? Show customers empathy? Flexibility? The “delight is too expensive” argument is just an excuse for lack of creativity and innovation.

Why “Easy” Matters

Kano Model

None of this is to suggest that being easy or delivering what’s expected is not important. Being easy is increasingly a “hygiene” expectation (thank you, Amazon). If routine interactions require too much effort, customers may look elsewhere.

So, just stop there, and all good? That depends on the goal for your business.

If your competitors are also trying to make things easy via digital transformation or whatever, your competitive position won’t change. This is probably one reason that CX improvement is stagnating, according to Forrester’s report “How Brands Build Loyalty With The Quality Of Their Experience” which found 48% of brands in “lockstep” — not changing competitive position.

If you’re not interested in improving your competitive position, then don’t waste your time reading the remainder of this article. Just make it easy, and you’re done!

But before you click away, you might want to consider that, aside from Gartner/CEB’s research, there is no evidence that focusing on effort is the key to customer loyalty. Loyalty expert Timothy Keiningham pointed me to a 2015 article in International Journal of Research in Marketing, “The Predictive Ability of Different Customer Feedback Metrics for Retention.” He summarizes the results as (where CES = Customer Effort Score):

1) “CES by itself has no real predictive power as it relates to customer retention, and 2) CES must be used in combination with CSAT, which results in the strongest predictive power.”

Therefore: “CES is not a better predictor of ‘loyalty’ given that it can’t predict one of the most important behavioral dimensions of loyalty, i.e. retention.”

Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Why Emotions Matter More

If you’re uncomfortable using the word “delight,” then think about positive emotions instead. Because a number of studies have found that emotion has an outsized impact on customer loyalty. For example, according to Forrester’s CX Index 2018 report, the firm studied the impact of effectiveness, ease, and emotion on customer loyalty (retention, enrichment, advocacy) and concluded:

Emotion has a bigger impact on brand loyalty than effectiveness or ease in every industry. Elite brands provided about 22 emotionally positive experiences for each negative one; the bottom 5% of brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative one.

Forrester analyst Rick Parrish says it’s critical for brands to really understand loyalty drivers (most don’t) and move beyond the “find and fix” tactics to create true differentiation. This diagram shows how CX elements relate to different types of loyalty.

Source: Forrester

Furthermore, he recommends that each brand identify specific positive emotions they want to generate. A bank, for example, might want their customers to feel valued. A utility — probably not the first place to look for delight — could strive for customers to feel confident. Parrish points out that the emotions don’t have to be extreme, and most aren’t. Common emotions include:

  • Positive: Appreciated, confident, grateful, happy respectful, valued
  • Negative: annoyed, disappointed, frustrated

Can “low effort” generate some of these emotions? Yes! Again, it depends on customer expectations. When I contacted AAA for a car battery replacement, and the entire process took less than an hour, I was delighted because I expected an ordeal. But when I use an ATM, I expect it to work fast and easy. Most routine transactions are rapidly heading in this direction, where “easy” is an expectation.

Gartner’s View(s) on CX Strategy

Gartner (via CEB acquisition in 2017) is the source of the “stop delighting” meme. It makes sense for Gartner to embrace low-effort CX because it’s largely driven by technology. But there is not exactly a unified view at the firm.

Gartner analyst Ed Thompson, with decades of CRM and CX experience, was the inspiration for the “stop delight” CustomerThink post mentioned earlier. Based on a presentation he gave in Sydney, he reportedly advised: “Don’t delight, don’t innovate, and don’t correlate data, because those customer experience strategies have very limited returns.”

To summarize a lengthy email interview, his point is simply this: Most companies aren’t mature enough to focus on emotions. Their CX efforts would be better served by focusing on the basics, such as making things easier. He has a point. A number of studies (including my own) find the majority of CX efforts are immature. Focusing on basics is a good place to start. But that’s not necessarily the place to finish. I think it’s harmful to suggest that delight and innovation are a waste of time.

Augie Ray, another Gartner analyst focused on CX (there are many), says the CEB research was largely misinterpreted. Initially focused on customer service, it has been more recently expanded to include other routine experiences like buying online. But, he says “it’s incorrect to throw delight out the window” — it can work for certain brands (e.g. Disney) or situations that add value.

in a July 2018 report unveiling the “Gartner CX Pyramid” you’ll find this:

Successful CX programs don’t just find and reduce problems in current customer journeys; they also detect and resolve unmet customer needs and wants in innovative ways.

Ray recommends using this pyramid as a framework to find ways to improve customer experiences. “Each level, from bottom to top, defines an incrementally stronger way to forge relationships between your brand and your customers based on the way you listen for, understand, act on and solve customer needs.”

Source: Gartner

Reducing effort is a good place to start because it’s foundational. But Ray also points out examples of hugely successful companies that add effort. Like IKEA, which requires customers to assemble furniture. The key is “smart” CX — know where customers want effortless and where they will value delight.

Doing More vs. Being Different

Maybe you admire Amazon, I know I do. As a consumer, I love the convenience and ease. But I also shop at Best Buy and numerous other brick and mortar retailers because convenience is not the only thing that matters. Neither is low cost.

The end-to-end customer experience includes a lot of touchpoints. Some good choices to reduce effort, others opportunities for innovation and delight. What about customer service? I asked industry experts to weigh in.

Steve DiGioia, a 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry, says: “Most service can be mechanical when we focus mainly on the specific steps-of-service to be taken and forget what’s really important; how we make a customer feel special, feel appreciated and how disappointed we are when we fail them.” He shared a story about intervening after a poor dining experience, inviting a couple to be his guest at a banquet. The gesture turned things around, resulting in many repeat visits by the couple and their friends and family members over three years.

That personal touch may not scale in all situations, according to Jeremy Watkin of outsourcer FCR. He believes that it’s generally better to focus on reducing effort and just do what was promised. He contends: “Wowing customers in a way that goes viral is a nice thought but I’m not sure it’s sustainable when agents interact with hundreds daily.” However, he also noted one example of a high CSAT client that “sends handwritten thank you notes to customers” along with adopting a number of other great practices.

Customer loyalty expert Chip Bell advocates a shift in thinking about delight from value-added to “value-unique — creating an experience that is unique, unexpected, innovative, essentially the ingenuity effect.” However, he says it requires “a culture that is resourced, encouraged, and trained to be resourceful and inventive.” Those lacking such a culture, or unwilling to invest in creating one, will have a hard time executing a value-unique CX strategy, in my view.

Making a similar point, Purple Goldfish author Stan Phelps stresses that “delight is not standing on your head, it’s all about differentiation.” In some cases, low effort can be delightful — when it’s different. Like TD Bank which is open seven days a week and opens early and closes late to accommodate customers. As for just meeting expectations, he says “smart companies are trying to stay above expectations — they are always rethinking experience to find little ways to raise the bar.”

What’s Your CX Strategy?

Unless you plan to be the next Amazon or Walmart, you might want to look beyond “being easy” as a means to differentiate. Here are a few ideas to stimulate some thinking.

Some brands make the “extras” part of the expected experience, like free samples at Trader Joe’s. Even though it’s not a surprise, each time I visit a store they have something new to sample. Perhaps one out ten times I buy the featured item, but it still helps differentiate the brand.

Give your employees some latitude to “make things right” and engage with customers authentically. That’s one reason why I love flying Southwest, despite the utilitarian flight experience. Say it with me: What is the cost of a smile?

Research competitors. Look at other industries. You might be surprised that you can create loyalty-building “memorable moments” with a reasonable investment. For more on this, view this video of a presentation by Chip Heath, co-author of The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact:

There’s no simple answer here. But I can say this for certain: If you and your competitors follow the same “just make it easy” CX strategy, you’ll all end up in the same place. Is that where you want to be?

18 COMMENTS

  1. Bob –

    A really timely, informative, and much-needed post. Having experienced the original thinking behind customer advocacy measurement (https://www.slideshare.net/lowen42/wragg-lowenstein-customer-advocacy) annexed and usurped by those who believe that recommendation is the metric cure for the common cold, your observations really resonate with me.

    Ease, as a concept, is an important value basic; but, per the thinking behind Kano’s model, it has become fairly one-dimensional and expected. When insufficiently provided, it performs more as a perceptual negative. On an emotional experience value delivery level, it is moderately positive, but little more. It also tends to be more narrowly service-focused rather than applicable across the entire customer experience landscape.

    Doing the small, personalized, often unanticipated things in a transaction or throughout the experience has proven, over time, to differentiate excellent value delivery from the commonplace. There is strong evidence of this in multiple industries. It is also consistent with Kano’s ideas. Think Southwest Airlines, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Metro Bank and Umpqua Bank, Zappos, Amazon, etc. As you note, building positive emotional ‘extras’ into the CX strategy is the key. It also needs to be baked into the enterprise culture and employee behavior, which is why I so often quote books like The Customer Comes Second, Firms of Endearment, and Conscious Capitalism.

    Again, great post. I hope it stirs some dialogue.

    Michael

  2. Bob, I agree with Michael that your article is timely and informative. I am amazed at how many barriers even large companies put in the way of a simple and intuitive purchase experience. As you say, if something that should be a routine experience requires too much effort, consumers will proceed to the next option. Meeting customer expectations (being easy) is “table stakes”. First get that right and you can then differentiate from there.

  3. Hi Bob,
    I agree with Michael and Christopher, great article. It usually doesn’t take much to make a difference in the customer experience, as you rightly pointed out about the cost of a smile. But at times we look past the many small steps we can take to make a difference while thinking we must provide major WOW’s in order to be effective.

    Using my example of the customer who had a poor dining experience (and thank you for including my contribution to this article), sometimes the acknowledgment that we’ve failed the customer has as big of a positive effect as the resolution itself.

    Well done and thanks again.

  4. Hi Bob,

    I believe CX is about the delivery of brand promise.

    As different brands have different promises – some focus on ‘service’, some ‘pricing’ and some ‘product’ – it makes no sense trying to use the conventional “Serve Customers Better” approach to address all kinds of CX challenges. It’s just plain wrong. See my post “Stop Practicing Fake CX” http://customerthink.com/stop-practicing-fake-cx/.

    Similarly, just as you said, “Unfortunately, getting CX right is hard. So some will naturally look for a simple answer. Just make it easy or wow customers all the time. Neither is a good solution.”

    Neither “Serve Customers Better” nor “Just Make It Easy” is the answer.

    Great post!

  5. Sampson, we could also say that CRM is about delivery of the brand promise. Of course we know that most people don’t see or practice CRM that way.

    I do believe that leading brands deliver a unique and differentiated experience to their customers. Not sure whether they call it CX or just good business. Remember these firms (IKEA, Southwest, etc.) were successful before terms like CRM or CX or customer-centricity were created.

    Basically you’re saying that any company that is successful by focusing on product and/or service and/or price is a CX success story. But those who preach “customer value” or “customer-centricity” or “customer engagement” or even CRM also claim leading brands as a success stories.

    Regardless of what term we prefer, the point of my article was that a blind focus on one attribute is a mistake, if you’re doing it just because it has been successful in some situations or for some brands. Each brand must find its own way.

  6. Hi Bob,

    I have never heard anyone said, “CRM is about the delivery of brand promise.”

    About CX.

    You said, “Each brand must find its own way.” I couldn’t agree more. Therefore, the conventional “Serve Customers Better” approach shouldn’t be the only way. Agree?

    In my opinion, there are three criteria for evaluating CX:

    1. Deliver brand promise. Ritz Carlton has “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen” (service), ULCCs (ultra-low cost carriers) offers the cheapest airfares (price), while BMW delivers “The Ultimate Driving Machine” (product).

    2. Create values for customers. For instance, the best prices for furniture of IKEA and the Third Place of Starbucks.

    3. Achieve business results. For example, first-time purchase (acquisition), repeat purchase (retention) and referral (positive word-of-mouth).

    Your thoughts?

  7. Isn’t a business strategy supposed to be about delivering the brand promise and achieving business results?

    It seems to me you’re just defining CX = business strategy. If not, please explain how CX is different from business strategy.

    In any case, I’m not sure that many are approaching CX the way you advocate. For those that do, are they calling it CX?

    Certainly agree that business strategy is important, regardless or what label we apply to it.

  8. Hi Bob,

    Blue Ocean is a business strategy.

    CRM is a business strategy (said Bob Thompson https://www.dmnews.com/data/news/13078540/crm-its-the-r-that-matters-most)

    Your ABOUT US – CustomerThink is the world’s largest online community dedicated to customer-centric business strategy.

    “Business Strategy” is an umbrella title for all kinds of strategies which aim to achieve business results.

    So what’s wrong for CX being defined as a business strategy?

  9. Sampson, you should quote me completely from that 2004 article:
    “According to Bob Thompson at CRMguru.com, CRM is “a business strategy to select and manage the most valuable customer relationships. CRM requires a customer-centric business philosophy and culture to support effective marketing, sales and service processes.” Organizations “can enable effective customer relationship management, provided that an enterprise has the right leadership, strategy and culture.”

    You’re right that CX is “a” business strategy. One that, according to your definition, involves delivering brand promise, creating value for customer, and achieving business results. That’s the most basic business strategy of all — every company is doing this to one degree or another. I don’t think it helps CX to define it so broadly that it includes what every company is already doing.

    What seems to differentiate your thinking is PIG — Pain Is Good. The idea that top brands create a kind of emotional signature of emotions — peaks and valleys — and don’t try to be all things to all customers. That is to me a better way to distinguish your recommended approach to CX.

    As for customer-centricity, I don’t define it as a business strategy. Rather, it’s a way of executing a business strategy, using five organizational habits (25 practices in all). I’ve done quantitative research which shows top performing brands execute these practices more effectively, irrespective of their core business strategy.

  10. Hi Sampson and Bob: this is a great discussion about strategy, which got me thinking. Understanding what strategy is, and why it’s important for business has been challenging to me as a practitioner, and when I taught an undergraduate course, Strategic Uses of IT. As with most controversies, it’s helpful to start with a definition: Strategy – “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” And not every business even has a strategy, which is an important related topic.

    In a business context, the ‘elephant in the room’ that pervades strategy development is the quest for something that’s has finite availability. i.e. competition for revenue, customers, market share, talent, materials, real estate. When things are in abundant or unlimited supply, there’s no need for strategy. Competitors invariably covet these same resources, so the objective of strategy is to provide an enterprise advantages that are unique and sustainable. Strategy, therefore, is needed to get something that others need, but not everyone can have. The dual challenges are executing the right strategy the right way.

    Strategies have the following characteristics:
    1) they involve investments to achieve them. Those are often a combination of time, money, physical effort, and material.
    2) they are accompanied by uncertainty
    3) they have both risks and opportunities
    4) they involve trade-offs

    When I delivered my strategy courses, the last point proved to be the most vexing for students. It’s also difficult for practitioners: when strategies are designed, there are always approaches and pathways not taken, and that characteristic becomes the Achilles Heel. Focus on becoming the industry leader for outstanding customer experience, and trade off price advantages. Establish a point-to-point network for air travel, and trade off the scheduling and capacity efficiencies of a hub and spoke system. Other examples abound. But when I ask about trade-offs, I’m often told, “I don’t think we’re trading off anything.” That’s a dangerous myopia.

    The issue I see in this conversation is how to distinguish between bona fide strategies, and tools that enable them. Semantic expression matters. TQM, Agile, Business Process Re-engineering: these are things that are strategically agnostic. Same for CX and CRM. As practitioners, we often attribute a positive spin to CX, but I see CX less as a combination of principles, philosophies, and methods to produce something good, and simply a spectrum – from horrible to outstanding. By itself, CX doesn’t qualify as a strategy because by the term alone, its purpose is unclear. Rather, it would be more meaningful to say ‘improved CX in the pursuit of market leadership/profitability/revenue growth.’

  11. Thanks, Andy. Excellent thoughts on “strategy” — a term I see ascribed to just about anything in business. To the point it becomes meaningless, because everything is a strategy!

    Gartner’s Augie Ray defines (https://blogs.gartner.com/augie-ray/2017/11/01/what-is-customer-experience/) as follows:
    “Customer experience management is “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.” Every part of that definition is important, but the most critical part is the reason why–to lift customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”

    This is a good generic description of a business strategy. It describes what’s included (interactions) and what are the desired outcomes (loyalty). If you replace “interactions” with “processes and data” you’d have CRM, another business strategy.

    The problem is this generic definition says nothing about choices. What kind of interactions, just for starters. Many so-called CX programs would have been called “service improvement” programs 20 years ago.

    I agree it’s helpful to document strategies. Not sure many do in the CX world. They declare “we are doing CX” and — just like the CRM days — wonder why they struggle when a clear strategy was never developed.

    That said, I would contend based on my consulting and research that every company has a strategy, whether written or not. Because no one has the resources to do everything, organizations naturally make decisions about what to do, or not do. Choice of KPIs and rewards usually reveals what’s important, regardless of what is documented.

    I am working on some new research that will help figure out what kinds of CX strategies are being deployed, and whether some choices work better than others. Some think focusing on “easy” is the most important choice. Sampson advocates including “product” and “price”. Research finds “emotion” has the biggest impact on customer loyalty — but it’s not clear many brands have the will or the way to take this on.

    Will be interesting to see the role that a company’s CX strategy plays in success or failure. Thanks for your comments.

  12. Hi Andy and Bob,

    Every company delivers customer experience. However, customer experience itself is neither a differentiator nor a strategy.

    Shaun Smith, “Customer experience per se does not differentiate brands but only if the experience is distinctive to the brand and valuable to the customer. It is the difference between a de-branded customer experience and a branded one that creates the impact.”

    A de-branded experience is a brand fails to keep their promise; the brand promise sits at the valley on an Emotion Curve – a De-Branded Valley.

    While a branded experience means a brand delivers their promise; the brand promise appears at the peak – a Branded Peak. It’s the outcome of executing an effective CX strategy.

    To me, strategy is about resource allocation. The effectiveness of a strategy is judged largely by the effectiveness in resource allocation.

  13. Hi Bob,

    Gartner’s Augie Ray defines (https://blogs.gartner.com/augie-ray/2017/11/01/what-is-customer-experience/) as follows: “Customer experience management is “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”

    I totally disagree.

    This Gartner’s definition is Mistaken:
    If CX is just about customer interactions, we should call it CIM (customer interaction management). Without ‘product’ and ‘pricing’, it’s not a Real CX. See my post “Stop Practicing Fake CX” http://customerthink.com/stop-practicing-fake-cx.

    This Gartner’s definition is Misleading:
    Exceeding customer expectations on anything not related to your brand promise/value, it would drive devastating impacts:

    1) Customers may feel happy but can’t relate to the promise/value of your brand, you’re doing charity just wasting company’s limited resources;

    2) It sends a confusing signal to customers and creates wrong expectations, assumed that you can’t deliver consistent experience on that;

    3) It eats up resource which would lower the possible pleasure peaks which reflect your brand promise/value. It adversely affects your core competitiveness.

    This Gartner’s definition is Insufficient:
    Its objective is more than C-SAT and loyalty. For instance, think of numerous startups which are trying their best creating good user experiences in order to drive acquisition. Without first-time purchase/sales, there would be no loyalty and advocacy.

    I can’t believe that Gartner would give such a Mistaken, Misleading and Insufficient definition of CX in 2017!

  14. In 2006 I published a paper with this definition — created after consulting with numerous CEM experts

    >>
    For the purposes of this white paper, our definition of customer experience is:
    The customer’s perception of interactions with a brand
    Let’s break that down to understand it more clearly:
     “Perception” is critical, because unless the customer thinks or feels that something happened, it hasn’t. And perception can include the emotional aspect of the interaction.
     An “interaction” could mean literally anything from viewing a marketing message to the actual use of a product or service to a post-purchase service/support activity to solve a problem.
     Finally, “brand” means far more than a logo or marketing communication. In the customer’s mind, the brand is a symbol for the organization and a promise to be fulfilled.

    Customer Experience Management, therefore, is simply managing customer experiences. That was easy!
    But this begs the question: To accomplish what?
    A more useful definition of CEM is:
    Managing customer interactions to build brand equity and improve long-term profitability
    >>

    In my view, effective CEM should build the brand. Increasing CSAT is probably part of that, but only if focused on the right things.

    Anyway, since then, I see more and more defining CXM much like CLM — Customer Loyalty Management. Increase CSAT and it’s all good! Finding and fixing problems helps do this, which keeps everyone busy. Same with “just make it easy” — which leads to quick wins but not necessarily any differentiation.

    So, now a lot of companies can claim to be “doing” CX so long as they are attempting to increase CSAT. What’s been lost is the concept of a “branded” experience introduced by Shaun Smith.

  15. Hi Sampson: For me, the efficacy of a strategy is the degree to which it achieves the intended objectives. With strategy execution, resource allocation is part of the challenge, but I think it’s more than that. Similarly, few would argue that finance and banking don’t go hand-in-hand, but as a discipline, finance is not about banking.

    With strategy, I can allocate or commit resources without a plan: “30% of the capital budget goes to Project A, and the remainder to Projects B and C.” I can plan without having any objectives: “Over the next quarter, we will execute our social media campaign by using the following steps . . .” But these two, plus objectives or goals, must be present for corporate decisions to gel into strategy. I recognize there isn’t consensus on this point of view, but I believe that in order to be effective, strategies require more basis than just one principle, method, or brilliant idea. And they are certainly more than simply deciding how to parse time, money, and material, absent a clear (and ideally, useful) purpose. By themselves, CRM, CX, and CEM are only concepts. For this reason, I see their value driven by a) the vision, purpose, or intentions companies have when deploying them, and b) how they are used along with other resources a company has at its disposal.

  16. Bob –

    Completely agree with your POV, though we’ve seen many companies still operating at the shallow end of the CX pool, but thinking they do enough. As organizations become more mature and adept with institutionalized CX and value delivery, I’ve long believed, and seen identified (by Shaun, Chip Bell, and several others) how branded, personalized and emotionally-based experiences, augmented and reinforced with stakeholder-centric cultures, separate the leaders from aspirants and also-rans..

  17. Hi Bob,

    “Effective CEM should build the brand.” Well said!

    And the most effective way to build a brand is Delivering a branded experience repeatedly and consistently. A branded experience means a brand delivers their promise. That’s why I said, “CX is about the delivery of brand promise.” The logic is crystal clear.

    Ritz Carlton promises “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen” (service), ULCCs (ultra-low cost carriers) promises the cheapest airfares (price), while BMW promises “The Ultimate Driving Machine” (product).

    The conventional “Serve Customers Better” approach is a perfect fit for companies’ brand promise is about ‘service’, like Ritz Carlton.

    But can the conventional CX help building the brand for companies with ‘product’ or ‘pricing’ as their brand promise?

    If not, then what should be done by the CX industry in order to achieve what you said, “Effective CEM should build the brand.”?

  18. Hi Andy,

    In general I agree with you.

    CX itself is not a strategy.

    Only when you make your choice on how to allocate resources – e.g. focus on ‘service’, ‘pricing’ or ‘product’, and to what extent – to deliver your brand promise in customer experience, then you have your own CX strategy.

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