Customer Experience is Still a Mystery


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What customer experience is, and how well brands think they are executing customer experience, and how well they are actually doing it are often at odds. According to Bain, 80% of CEOs believe they deliver superior customer experience while, 8% of their customers agree. PatientPop shares that, while 42% of patients wanted to schedule their appointments online, only 17% of respondents actually had that option. Salesforce reported that only 37% of shoppers feel like retailers know them.

The list goes on and on. Big and small brands (and their leaders) are missing the mark on customer experience. Even worse, those brands remain disillusioned about the poor customer experience they are actually delivering.

Talk is Cheap

Unfortunately, as we enter 2021 the customer experience mystery remains just that. One big black hole for executive teams. And our community of customer experience professionals who can demystify CX must continue the international educational roadshow.

Last year, I believed 2020 would be the year of customer experience. With Covid, people started reacting with the same excitement when I said I work in Customer Experience as they used to when I told them I worked in JetBlue Airways. At the end of the year, I am here to report all this enthusiasm was just talk. And as we all know, talk is cheap.

In my day to day, with the exception of CitiBank with whom I have banked for the last 20 years, I have not seen a big brand build and execute a 5 year+ omni channel customer experience strategy. Just two weeks ago, we were unsuccessful at educating a senior executive team why an investment in customer experience was the best use of their money. They just could not relate. For them, customer experience remains a mystery.

What makes customer experience programs hard to understand?

The biggest problem related to understanding customer experience is that customer experience is not cheap. It also cannot be done by one person. Or, for that matter, by only one division or one executive.

At its core, customer experience is a way of doing business. In other words, customer experience is a mindset that drives business decisions. Customer experience guides funding prioritization for the customer’s benefit over other uses of capital. A structural move of this magnitude is impossible if customer experience remains a mystery to executives.

So what does that mean for all of us?

In 2021, by and large, brands will continue talking about customer experience as something they “should do” and something that is “important” to the “survival of brands” post-Covid. We are not, however, going to read case studies of companies that have actually invested money to build the proper journeys for consumers.

2021 will give us some small customer experience wins. But we will not see anything transformational. In other words, don’t hold your breath on scheduling doctor appointments online. Or if you do, do not expect that you will have the address of the doctor’s office on your confirmation page. Or a link to e-check in for your visit.

The chatbots you use in 2021 will not get any smarter, and Bloomingdales will not come up with a USEFUL app that can manage your shopping experience between the website and the store.

The good news for customer experience professionals like The Petrova Experience is that we still have a lot of work to do. In a way, human-centered mindset is a cultural revolution. And cultural revolutions take years to plan and execute. Why should customer experience be any different?

Allow experts like us to guide you through this revolution. As we say, we work in pursuit of customer happiness. That is an ideology worth pursuing relentlessly.

How Do We Demystify Customer Experience?

Our colleagues Harley Manning and Sam Karpinski, recently published a Forrester report “CX Leaders: Get Funding Or Get Fired!” walking CX professionals through the process of justifying a bill redesign business case with lower call center volume.

While it is true that customer experience professionals need to make the business case, this is still thinking small. And small does not have a real impact. Revising the bill the customer receives is not enough to create the customer experience transformations we need. And it means even less in a vacuum, when it is not designed within the context of a scalable customer experience strategy. So we need to acknowledge that it is imperative to ask for funding for integrated programs that cover the entire customer journey, not just one touchpoint. Imagine if the customer does call after reading the newly designed bill.  And the call center agent has no hospitality training. You have now destroyed your own business case.

The bottom line is customer experience professionals need to ask executives for the funding necessary to build customer experience programs large enough and expensive enough to have a real impact.

Educate Executives

So how do we make sure the executives at the top are brave enough to make the necessary commitments? We do that by educating executives about customer experience beyond individual business cases. We need to invite them to trust the experts like us. And we need to help them understand that this involves structural costs.

In the end, the executives need to realize that spending the amount of money it takes to create structural change is not their greatest risk. Their greatest risk is failing to invest in customer experience programs. Because those that do not will not be around to see the next decade.

Join the Customer Experience Revolution

By elevating the audience, increasing the budgets, and educating executives, we are solving the mystery of customer experience and creating the CX revolution all brands need to survive.

So, in 2021, let’s continue educating the right audiences. And let’s start a revolution.

This post is the third in a series about 2021 Customer Experience Trends. Read The Petrova Experience 2021 Trend Report and our analysis o

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Liliana Petrova
Liliana Petrova CCXP pioneered a new customer-centric culture that energized more than 15,000 JetBlue employees. Future Travel Experience & Popular Science awarded her for her JFK Lobby redesign & facial recognition program. Committed to creating seamless experiences for customers and greater value for brands, she founded The Petrova Experience, an international customer experience consulting firm that helps brands improve CX. To elevate the industry, she launched a membership program to help CX professionals grow their careers. Ms Petrova lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.


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