Execs Still Don’t Get Customer Experience


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Many executives are interested in improving the customer experience. They want to know how to increase loyalty and revenue and all that good stuff.

When Oracle released their White Paper Why Customer ‘Satisfaction’ is No Longer Good Enough, the stats caused quite a stir, and rightfully so.

  • 70% of shoppers have stopped buying goods or services from a company after experiencing poor customer service
  • 64% have made future purchases from a company’s competitors after experiencing poor customer service
  • 82% describe the customer service process as being a lot of effort
  • 92% of customers feel a poor service experience decreases their loyalty

81% of consumers are prepared to pay more for a better customer experience!

Were any of us, really, surprised as customers? No. We have been there. We know it requires effort to get what we deserve. We have gladly defected to a competitor after our “go-to” brand disappointed us in some major way.

Exec Not ListeningWhy are the executives surprised? They claim improving the customer experience is a priority, as they’ve been claiming for a few years now.

Every day I speak to business leaders who still treat the customer experience as a reactive, defensive strategy. Even the Oracle report concludes the following 5 guidelines to “create a compelling customer experience”:

  • Focus on the contact centre – optimise resources for dealing with ‘critical enquiries’
  • Focus on speed and simplicity – with an emphasis on first contact resolution
  • Monitor and respond to social media complaints – and provide effective resolution
  • Integrate different customer touchpoints – to deliver a truly consistent CX
  • Justify customer loyalty through excellence – innovate audience interactions

These do not sound like parts of a proactive customer experience strategy to me. Even the last recommendation, which highlights “loyalty through excellence” is saying this will justify the loyalty, not inspire or earn it day after day. Justifying loyalty sounds a lot like aiming for satisfaction. “I guess it’s ok I pay for this. It’s not as bad as it could be. The way they respond to me as a customer makes me sort of feel heard.”

State Farm Call Center

Customer Experience is More Than Reacting to Customer Issues

Step one, in any customer experience strategy, is to truly understand what your customers are experiencing and WHY. Evaluation is a critical step to understanding, appreciating and improving the customer experience. By first understanding, you can then plan a better experience and begin executing it. Instead of waiting for customer complaints, you can proactively create experiences to not only avoid them but create WOW moments instead.

Handling customer complaints successfully and without additional effort from the customer seems like table stakes. Responding to customers on social media? Is that still up for debate?

It’s time to be honest about customer experience. If your company is not delivering, you probably know it, even if it’s difficult to face the truth. But, trust me here: The truth will set you free. Be bold. Be brave. You can handle the truth. And even if you can’t, your customers are dealing with it daily. Don’t they deserve better?

Photo credits: Striatic & State Farm via Creative Commons license

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 Lynda.com 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. Jeannie, I think you nailed it here:

    These do not sound like parts of a proactive customer experience strategy to me. Even the last recommendation, which highlights "loyalty through excellence” is saying this will justify the loyalty, not inspire or earn it day after day.

    I’ve found much the same thing. Executives think customer experience is about fixing customer service problems. That’s a start, but I don’t believe that customers are willing to pay more for that.

    Fixing customer service may help reduce attrition. Or, if competitors are screwing up, attract new customers.

    But for CX to become a real loyalty-building strategy, company have to evolve to value creation. That means taking a fresh look at how experiences are designed and delivered, and not just focusing on customer service and fixing problems.

    I wrote about this two years ago in Customer Experience Management: Past, Present and Future.

    To fulfill the promise of experience-based differentiation, you may need to create entirely new experiences. For example, observe the technologies and services that consumers are using—including social media and smart mobile devices, just to name two. How could these be applied to your business?

    The CEM community needs to do more to educate executives that CX is not just another name for customer service or contact center support. Unfortunately, as vendors start to pile on the CX meme, it will likely reinforce the notion that CEM is just another name for process automation a/k/a CRM. That would be a shame…

  2. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for your comment. I totally agree on the CX meme bandwagon and how dangerous it is to paint everything with the same broad brush. Customer service, responding to customer issues and CRM are all parts of the customer experience. Being proactive and designing the ideal customer experience is what separates the great from the good, in my opinion.


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