7 Signs of Decline for the CX Movement in 2015


Share on LinkedIn

Customer Experience continued to be a dominant business issue throughout the world in 2014.  We get many inquiries for our services globally. I worked with clients in more countries than ever before last year, including China, India, and Saudi Arabia to name a few.  They are all  working to improve their Customer Experience. I can say with confidence the Customer Experience concept is now a worldwide phenomenon.

It is great to see but I also see problems, some of which I have written about before. My concern is the focus on improving the Customer Experience is in danger of heading the same way as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), into failure if it’s not careful. I see seven signs of failure for CX that  I saw with CRM, represented in common statements I hear, including:

“This IT system, will solve all my problems.”

IT systems are part of the reason many Customer Experiences are poor but only part of the reason. The big IT companies are coercing organizations to believe all they have to do is buy an IT system and their Customer Experience will improve by magic. We all know organizations made huge investments in CRM IT systems and expected the world to change overnight. When the world didn’t change, it sullied the name of CRM.

“Of course I know what the Customer Experience is about!”

An increasing number of people have a superficial understanding of what a Customer Experience is, like CRM. As the saying goes “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.” Customer Experience is about human behavior and Customer’s emotions. You need to understand experience psychology. As with anything else, you need to understand what you are doing to make a difference.

“What is the one thing I can do that would improve the Customer Experience?”

It is naive to think there is one thing to do that will improve the Customer Experience. People who think this is the case don’t understand the subject. It is human nature to want a quick fix, but there is no “silver bullet” that will solve your Customer Experience problems.

“Everyone else is doing Customer Experience, so we should, too.”

You may feel the need to jump on the bandwagon, but that is not a reason to focus on improving your Customer Experience. Make sure you understand where the bandwagon is going, decide whether you want to go there, and commit to the journey. Improving the Customer Experience is hard work. If you are not prepared to do it, don’t even start. You’ll do more harm than good.

“I work in Customer Experience.”

Are you sure?  Or have you just rebadged your job that you’ve been doing for the last ten years? Rebadging jobs, projects, and functions and calling them Customer Experience doesn’t mean you will magically change things. To change things you need to do something different!

“We have mapped our processes to improve the Customer Experience.”

There is a big difference between experience and a process. Organizations obsess themselves with processes and fail to see the difference between the experience and a process. A process is what you want the customer to do. Allow me to let you in on a secret: Customers do not always do what you want them to do, and if you force them to submit to your process, this can cause a poor experience.

“Our Senior Executives rolled out a new slogan about our Customer Experience.”

Too many senior execs decide to improve Customer Experience, without knowing what their organization needs to do to change their current experience. Too many are looking for a quick fix; too many fail to lead. Customer Experience is a way of life, a cultural change, and a commitment needed from the heart as well as the head. It is not a slogan.

I am pleased to have helped, in some way, to shape a new industry with our books, research and client work since 2002. I see dangers on the horizon we should all try to avoid. I don’t want to see Customer Experience go the same way as CRM. Let’s make sure we work together to avoid them for the benefit of the Customer. Customers deserve better.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. Colin, you have pointed out many reasons. I think the feeling that everything must end up in processes is one problem. The other is mind set changes, where the CEO’s first priority is not the customer. In fact the customer priority is not there. Neither is the mind set worked on at all levels, especially at the front line. Many people believe that training will change mind set, It does not do enough. We build Customer Circles where self esteem, awareness and pro-activeness towards the customer along with a Continuous Customer Improvement program is started.
    Yet another cause for failure is for CEO’s or CXO’s to trot out a person and say, we are working on CX. This is our CX guy and of course the other departments are not involved and this poor chappie has no control over the other departments in making them customeric).
    I could go on and on, but you have outlined many causes already.

  2. Colin, your posts always contain such profound wisdom. Thanks for this one. We need guideposts like this to contribute to a true understanding of CX, not a superficial embrace of what could be faddish. CX has been around since the start of commerce. But, we are late coming to the deliberate and thoughtful management of how people in organizations collectively work to influence positive emotions in customers. Knowing the potholes that signal its demise can help ensure necessary discipline and sustainability to what some believe is simply, “be nice to all customers.”

    The decline of CRM I believe came when we forgot to emphasize the “R,” putting all the emphasis on the “M.” The erosion of CX happens when we treat the “X” with tools and techniques relevant for object making with little regard for the psychology behind the emotion of service. My CX of air travel seat upgrade formerly involved that nice person at the gate counter who co-created a warm encounter with me. When I got upgraded, I felt I had been given something surprise; it elevated my affinity. for that airline. Now, I watch the monitor in the gate area and if I am upgraded the impersonal computer spits out my reassigned seat assignment as I board with the first class passengers. While the upgrade process is highly efficient, the airline frequent flyer process has wrung out all the positive emotion leaving me with no greater affinity than I had before. In fact it is so mechanical that I sometimes find myself a bit angry if I am not upgraded to a seat assignment for which I now consider I am entitled…as a platinum member of their affinity program!! The upgrade process has been “de-X’d!”

  3. Hi Colin – after reading your blog, I’m not sure whether the issues you have cited are emblematic of decline, rather than confusion. And in confusion, there’s often opportunity.

    My overarching question comes from your first paragraph, where you wrote, “the Customer Experience concept is now a worldwide phenomenon.” As a practitioner in this field, how do you define (or describe) ‘customer experience concept?’ Every day, I’m a customer of more than one company or individual such as a doctor or dentist. And from that, I have experiences. But in thinking about customer experience as a concept, I am struggling just now how to articulate it without sounding like an idiot. This, despite many hours of practice each week as a customer.

    And that might explain some of the artifacts you mentioned – even the ones that seem way out there, such as ‘what is the one thing that I can do to improve . . . ?’

    Compounding the explanatory challenge is the ‘worldwide phenomenon’ part. Where cultural norms, customs, and business practices vary between countries and societies, can there be consensus on what constitutes customer experience, let alone what makes it good? Can we apply the same principles and standards for a shopkeeper in rural India as a Wall Street investment banker?

    Thanks in advance for your insight on this.

  4. Great article.The perils of the state of CX/CEM/[whatever you want to call this] is that it MUST go through this period of ‘reality-setting’ for people to truly understand what it means to be customer aligned. I see no way around it.

    Between vendors promising instant ‘fixes’ and companies looking for ‘silver bullets’ the collective ‘we’ have created this situation. I don’t agree that CRM has failed. It went through the same reality-setting and has emerged and transformed into something much bigger than how CRM was originally defined.

    I am optimistic about CX/CEM/Etc, it’s just going to be messy in the meantime.

  5. Andy, when I refer to ‘CX Concepts’ and these now being world wide I meant the CEM practice. ie: The whole concept behind CEM, omnichannel, journey planning, customer centricity. I bundle all this under the whole CX movement or concepts that has occurred since my first book, ‘Building Great Customer Experiences’ back in 2002. I have seen these concepts start in the US/UK which are quite mature markets for this and now spreading to other countries around the globe. I hope this helps.

  6. Well said Colin. The reported failure of CRM came from the technology not meeting expectations and the tools not having a strategic foundation to guide the process. Thus the trouble with Cx; we talk about it but do not really know where it fits in alignment with other important customer efforts. A lot of vendor-driven hype on a very basic premise: give the customer what they need, make it easy, and connect them emotionally. We do that with the people we care about in personal life when we rate the quality of the relationship based on functionality, accessibility, and connection. THAT is what Cx is: a customer relationship rating mechanism. And CRM (in spite of its implementation failure history) is more essential than ever to serve as a foundation for managing Relationship, which we can then rate through Cx. Managing the quality of customer engagement, centricity, service, and transparency are part of how we win and keep customers. Excellent article. Thank you.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here