The 3 Unintended Consequences of CX Obsession

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For years companies have hyped their CX transformation initiatives — move over product and price, customer experience is king! While the emphasis on improving CX is well intended, the execution has been misguided and in many ways companies are still missing the mark.

Here’s what I mean. When I bought a new house, my move coincided with a major boxing match. As an avid boxing fan, getting my cable set up was a top priority. My initial touchpoint with the cable company’s call center was straightforward; scheduling the installation was seamless; and the individual who came out to my house was friendly and helpful.

However, on the night of the fight, with 20 people gathered at my place, I realized that my HBO account wasn’t activated. This is a classic example of the disconnect between CX obsession and delivering experiences that drive business and customer results. Each interaction along my journey with the cable company was positive, but collectively the journey did not help me achieve what I set out to do.

We’ve all experienced some version of my cable story in our daily interactions with banks, insurance providers, healthcare companies and utilities. So much so that the clock is ticking for CX leaders. Forrester estimates that 1 in 4 CX professionals will lose their job in 2020, despite best efforts to make a measurable impact. With the stakes higher than ever, let’s explore the three unintended consequences of CX obsession and how enterprises can shift to a proactive experience orchestration (XO) approach to move the needle on strategic business outcomes.

1. Experience management (XM) is passé

Want to improve CX? Adopt an XM tool (or several)! The problem is XM is passive and backward-looking whereas experience orchestration (XO) allows companies to take an active role in shaping experiences in real-time. Don’t get me wrong, XM serves a valuable function by providing insight into customer sentiment. However these insights are a double-edged sword. Accenture found that two-thirds of customers are willing to share personal data with a brand, but they expect a comparable trade-off in the form of personalized and proactive experiences. A survey triggered after multiple failed attempts to set up auto bill-pay doesn’t cut it. Customers expect you to proactively intervene before they experience friction.

Not only is XM passive, but there’s a disconnect between XM and actual customer and business results. While strong net promoter scores can be good indicators of customer sentiment at a single moment in time, they don’t reflect the quality of your customer’s full lifecycle experience with the brand. Instead of focusing on improving channels or touchpoints, shift to journey-aligned goal setting.

2. Customer Journey Maps Don’t Leave the Desk Drawer

Today, enterprise CX teams and journey mapping are commonplace. In fact, more than 80% of CX leads expect to compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX in 2020 (Gartner). Yet, two-thirds of customer journey mapping initiatives fail to drive any action (Heart of The Customer). It’s a classic CX trap. Companies expend countless resources collecting customer data, synthesizing it, and devising the perfect strategy only to fail to take action when it matters most.

The key to executing successful CX initiatives is to not just map and measure customer journeys but to operationalize them early with the intention to iterate often with a bias for action. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Best-in-class CX is not linear because journeys aren’t linear. Businesses must adopt an agile, test-and-learn approach to journey implementation in order to meet customers’ dynamic needs, behaviors, and sentiments and deliver superior customer experiences.

3. Failed CX promises deplete trust

When businesses champion themselves as CX obsessed, it only further exasperates missteps along the customer journey. Making customers explain their inability to redeem airline miles to four different call center representatives is bad enough, but interrupting the hold music to reiterate “your call is important to us” further aggravates the issue.

At the end of the day, loyal customer relationships depend on trust. The annual Edelman Trust Barometer found that companies with high trust outperform their sector by 5%. However as of now only 34% of consumers trust most of the brands they buy or use and 67% of consumers say that, unless they come to trust the brand, they will stop buying it.

Bring authenticity to your CX promises by aligning cross-departmental teams around a specific journey (e.g. increasing repeat flyers). Instead of department-specific objectives like the number of website visits or trips researched, prioritize journey throughput (e.g. total frequent flyer miles used and the conversion rate from trips researched to flights booked).

As companies seek to build trust and increase retention among their customers, company-wide alignment on a journey-centric operating model will be key to creating happier, more loyal customer relationships

Thriving in the next decade with Experience Orchestration


The crushing part of my cable story is that it wasn’t one person’s fault. Everyone I connected with along my journey did their job, but unfortunately, there wasn’t an individual responsible for the bigger picture and the entire customer journey. Don’t make it more difficult for your customers to do business with you. Remove the friction along their customer journey before they experience it — retroactively addressing hiccups along the way is no longer acceptable. And whatever you do, if you’re going to broadcast your customer obsession, you better deliver on that promise or your customer will find someone who will.

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