The No. 1 Enemy of Customer Experience Transformation


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I discovered a simple truth after over 150 journeys with clients, working toward transforming their organizations into customer-centric centers and toward delivering exceptional customer experiences consistently. There is a hidden enemy working against you if you try to activate a customer-centric transformation within an organization.

It is the no. 1 enemy of improving the customer experience and yet most practitioners and executives fail to recognize it, let alone address it. It is the reason why many companies are left with small, gradual changes that don’t help them differentiate their business through customer obsessions.

No, it is not a limited budget. Although a sufficient budget is necessary, it’s not the real enemy of customer experience success.

Lack of executive sponsorship? Sure, it’s important, but the reason they don’t sponsor the initiative publicly, the way you would want, is tied to the no. 1 enemy.

Competing initiatives is often cited as a reason for lack of meaningful progress in customer experience transformation. In reality, these initiatives are only competing because there is lack of true commitment to each of them individually. Which, in turn, is also related to the real no. 1 enemy.

Silos are a real problem. You have to address them and it is not simple to do so.  But they are a symptom, not the real problem.

Technology infrastructure is not a reason not to smile sincerely to customers – I’m sorry. Yes, you can do with better technology but it is not a true obstacle to customer love.

Lack of training? Sure it helps to have trained employees, but if your organization really believed in customer experience they would find the budget and time to train their workers.

Lack of a business case supporting this change is also critical.  I have been advocating assessing the economics of customer experience for over 10 years.  But it’s not the no. 1 enemy.  And in fact if you will not acknowledge the no. 1 enemy no financial case will help you progress the customer experience strategy.

So what is the no. 1 enemy to customer experience transformation?

“We are doing it already.”

That’s it. A deep conviction among employees and managers in the field, and often in HQ, is that focusing on the customer and delighting customers is what they have been doing all along. They would likely challenge, “After all, how do you think we made our numbers? You think we didn’t focus on the customer?”

Customer experience transformation challenges an organization to realize that it is not as good as it thinks it is. It makes them recognize that all their efforts and achievements did not result in exceptional value. It forces them to rethink their value and assess their behaviors. 

And naturally, they push back. No one likes the message that their good is not good enough. No one believes that they deliver just an OK experience or that their best efforts fail to impress the customer. Accepting that notion is rather frightening for organizations and individuals. And as such they will fight back. They will resist. They will hide behind their past success as proof that they have been doing it all along.

Unless you recognize and address the no. 1 enemy head-on, your transformation will result in lukewarm impact and reduce the appetite for more.

The conviction that “we are doing it already” is exactly why conflicting projects stunt and slow down customer-centricity transformations. It is why budgets are not being freed up to accelerate progress and why a business case will not help much. After all, it’s not that bad.  We’re doing it already.

When encountering overzealous employees who seem to support your mission to improve the customer experience, be suspicious. Examine the real reason for their support. Are they seeking to reinforce how great their current performance is or are they truly looking for ways to improve it? They might be the symbol of “we are doing it already.”

Confronting this conviction is task no. 1 for any customer experience or strategy professional seeking to transform their organization to become customer-centric.  This enemy is often hidden from the conversation, but it is very much alive and well in people’s behaviors and actions.

Lior Arussy
One of the world’s authorities on customer experience, customer centricity, and transformation, Lior Arussy delivers results. His strategic framework converts organizations from product- to customer-centricity. It is drawn from his work with some of the world’s leading brands: Mercedes-Benz, Royal Caribbean, Delta Air Lines, MasterCard, Novo Nordisk, Walmart and more.Arussy is also the author of seven books, including Next Is Now (May 2018)


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