Customer Experience Includes Everything, But Authentic CX Will “Do” Nothing


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Let’s face the realities:

    1. CEOs scarcely spare enough attention for CX initiatives.
    2. CX budgets won’t be adequate as companies’ resources are limited.
    3. VOC is usually disregarded and rarely converted into purposeful actions.

You won’t be able to change the status quo with Conventional CX. But with Authentic CX you can. Let me illustrate how with the TCE (total customer experience) Model [1].

The TCE (Total Customer Experience) Model

Figure 1 – The TCE Model of a Credit-Card Issuing Bank
Figure 2 – The TCE Model of a Mobile Network Operator

Figure 1 shows the TCE Model of a credit-card issuing bank. Figure 2 is a simplified version of the TCE Model for a mobile network operator.

The data are derived from a research with 4,567 valid responses of credit card holders [2] and another research with 2,275 mobile service users [3].

The horizontal axis spans the customer lifecycle from experiences at X1 to X39 in figure 1 and X1 to X30 in figure 2. The vertical axis addresses all interacting touch-points from T1 to T27 in figure 1 and figure 2.

In both figures, white stars denote the touch-point experiences that are important in driving both retention and NPS/referrals, green dots important to retention, red dots important to NPS/referrals, and black dots unimportant to both [4].

Authentic CX Makes CEOs’ Lives Easier

The most important job that CEOs have is to make decisions. Authentic CX rides on the TCE Model to enhance both the efficiency and effectiveness of their decision-making.

    1. Make faster decisions. CEOs can visualize all trees and the entire forest in one comprehensive blueprint. Instead of reviewing numerous CX reports of each function and touch-point, the TCE Model consists of all the touch-point experiences that affect how customers perceive your brand across the entire customer lifecycle. It helps reduce the efforts and time needed for CEOs to make CX-related decisions. You would undoubtedly and consistently capture CEOs’ primary attention.
    2. Make better decisions. The TCE Model illustrates the importance of each touch-point experience in driving target objectives, e.g. retention and NPS/referral for the credit-card issuing bank in figure 1 and mobile network operator in figure 2. CEOs can more accurately align resources with target business results. Instead of playing a functional role to fight for more resources, you strategically advise how to allocate the limited resources amongst different functions and departments.
    3. Make fairer decisions. The data of the TCE Model is derived directly from your customers, not from any internal consultants or external authorities. It would reduce the disputes between different departments as it is a more objective and a transparent approach in resource allocation. The TCE Model links the data to business results, objectively allocates resources and might reduce departmental silos. VOC is heard and used in a meaningful context.

The TCE Model is useful. But don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to sell it to you here. It is indeed more sophisticated than customer journey mapping, but it’s not rocket science. There are many brilliant brains and clever minds out there in the market who can create better models and solutions.

My point is, however, that the role of CX has to be strategic in order to carry out its destined duties.

Authentic CX’s Role is Strategic, Not Functional

As illustrated in figure 1 and figure 2, CX includes everything that customers can perceive – all experiences at the pre-purchase, at-purchase and post-purchase stages delivered by various functions and channels.

That said, just because CX includes everything that would affect the feeling of customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle, doesn’t mean that it has to do everything. No functions can. The nature of CX dictates its role – strategic and not functional.

If services have to be improved, leave it to customer service. If products or pricing are in trouble, let the marketing folks handle that. Let the respective functions do their jobs.

The role of CX should never be functional. It ought to be strategic and monitoring. It identifies what has gone wrong, where resources are used poorly and ensures brand promises are delivered.

This direction is what CX should be heading towards. Without a neutral perspective, how can it render the best and non-biased solutions for companies to deliver their brand promises, yet satisfy customers’ needs and achieve business results?

Therefore, the positioning of CX has to be strategic, not functional.

Authentic CX Must Detach from CS and Marketing

With the TCE Model, you can change from the biased “Managing CX = Managing Service” to an objective “Managing CX = Managing TCE” perspective.

With the “Managing CX = Managing TCE” perspective, Authentic CX connects your CX efforts to business results. It maximizes the productivity of the limited resource of any organization in driving repeat purchase (retention) and referral (NPS) – the resultant behaviors of loyalty.

On the other hand – as Conventional CX is just service-in-disguise – when “Managing CX = Managing Service,” your CX efforts and investment will overwhelmingly concentrate on service-related initiatives and touch-point experiences.

But in truth, it could be the other touch-point experiences that affect how customers perceive CX and influence customer loyalty. Would anyone in your organization dare to speak out and say that resources could be used more effectively in some other channel or touch-point? Who will voice this opinion when CX is the responsibility of customer service or marketing?

To maximize the effectiveness of CX, the CX function has to gain its independence. It is entirely necessary to have a chief experience officer or chief strategy officer – who is detached from customer service or marketing and reports directly to the CEO.


    1. The TCE (Total Customer Experience) Model maps the matrix of all the touch-point experiences in which customers interact with a company or a brand during the entire customer lifecycle using X-VOC Research to derive the importance levels of each of the touch-point experiences that drive target business results. I created this model in 2009. See Sampson Lee, Building an Effective Total Customer Experience Model for Telecom Operators (, 28 May 2009).
    2. Mainland China Credit Card Customer Experience Research, Global CEM, May-June 2008 and May-July 2009.
    3. Global Mobile Communications Customer Experience Research, Global CEM and CustomerThink (U.S.), March-May 2009.
    4. The importance rankings in the research findings shown in this article were generated using the derived importance approach with regression analysis.


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