Customer Experience Isn’t Marketing


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Marketers, those experts at telling us what we really want, are now saying customer experience is the new marketing. I’m here to tell you it’s not.

One of the challenges with customer experience, when done well, is how absolutely all-encompassing it is.

So, yes, the marketing your company does is part of the customer experience, but it’s not the only part. And, yes, the better your customer experience is in reality, the easier it will be to market your brand. Your customers will evangelize for you, thanks to a superior customer experience.

customer experience isn't marketing

But marketing is still marketing.

Marketing is taking the idea of what you provide and making it appealing to those who might be in the market to purchase. Customer experience is about the entire journey a customer goes on with your brand.

Customer experience includes points in the journey often overlooked – or ignored – by marketing:

  • Invoices and billing: Your customers might only have this one touchpoint with you regularly. Is it up to snuff?
  • Complaints and customer service: Your customers will have issues. If the process to tell you about them and then resolve them is painful, no amount of marketing can help.
  • After the marketing stops, your customers are onboarded. Is their first experience a good one?
  • Does the mobile experience and online experience serve the customer where they are or is it disjointed?
  • What about the exit? Do you leave them feeling jilted or likely to return?

So, please, for all of our sakes,

please stop saying customer experience is the new marketing.

It’s not. It will help your marketing, but let’s keep the discussion about experience where it belongs – on your customers. Consider the experience as a differentiator, a critical part of your mission, a game changer or even a recruitment tool. But don’t call it marketing.

When confusion sets in and we start believing this type of marketing hocus pocus, we make mistakes like American Airlines did. They called their new logos and paint jobs on their planes a “new customer experience.” Passengers who were routinely disappointed in the actual customer experience flocked to social media to call foul. Then you read quotes like this, from an article in Forbes:

A spokesperson for American said, “The new look, including our new fleet, is a strategic investment that is needed to improve our customers’ overall experience. . .”

No, it’s not. J.D. Power & Associates 2013 released its North America Airline Satisfaction Study and American Airlines was ranked second to last in the traditional airlines category. The last? None other than U.S. Airways, which is expected to finalize a merger with American Airlines later this year. If I were the CEO, I’d start worrying about the experience my customers are having, and quickly. Shiny exteriors and modern logos don’t go very far when you are mistreated or dissatisfied by the time you step foot on the aircraft.

The fact American Airlines fell for their own PR – that marketing and the stuff that goes with it is enough to call the customer experience – shows just how deep this mythology runs in some organizations. Don’t fall for it. Communicate with your market, by all means. But don’t forget to actually deliver on the experience.

This article was written for and a version was first posted on Sensei Blogs.

Image credit: Plymouth Devon via CreativeCommons

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a globally recognized speaker, a LinkedIn Learning and instructor, and a Tedx speaker. She’s a very active writer and blogger, contributing to leading publications from Forbes to Pearson college textbooks. Her mission is “To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.”


  1. Great post, Jeannie! For those of us who have always sat in the marketing area this is quite a dilemma. On the one hand, being a “marketer” gives me legitimacy and a way to evangelize the customer experience. On the other hand, I’m at the bottom of the marketing chain because senior execs don’t quite “get” that I’m still business focused. My current company is very data-driven and the “marketers” always have the tools to back up their data, but I have to fight for the experience measurement tools and resources that I feel will support my efforts. Any suggestions on resources to support my argument and help me change my spot on the totem pole?

  2. Hi Kioko!
    Thanks for the great question. I see two things over and over. 1. The leaders don’t know what the true, overarching mission of the experience should be. They respond to things with short-term strategies under the marketing domain and don’t have any compass for what’s next or where they want to go. The experience suffers because everything is a short-term business strategy, not an actual customer focus. 2. Data always tells you what has happened, but not what could happen. Without a focus on the experience in real-time, it’s easy to miss the small things in the experience that can lead to big ramifications for marketing. When those things align, magic happens! I’d love to talk more about your particular situation if you think it would be helpful. Feel free to reach out!


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