Why is a Great Customer Experience so Elusive for Some Organizations?


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It never ceases to amaze me how some organizations just don’t get “it” yet. The “it” is a better customer experience. Here are a few recent examples that exemplify my point. 

A top seller of home security cameras sends two cameras in separate packages both with missing parts. When I called to request the missing parts I was given two options: 1) they would send me the parts and I could expect them to arrive in 5-7 days or 2) I could go to their website, BUY the missing parts, and get them in 3-5 days. No offer to expedite parts to insure an quick delivery. Next, I asked for a small credit to compensate me for the inconvenience. The agent had to repeatedly ask a “lead” for permission to grant me a credit. When I suggested that perhaps I should just return both cameras and let the company lose money on the sale, the agent told me she would process a return label for me. After a series of back-and-forth discussions and over 35 minutes on the phone, we agreed on an extension of the trial period for 6 months and a complementary add-on product. 

I wish I could say this was an exception to my typical experiences with organizations. Unfortunately, it isn’t. A few more…

  • A homeowner’s insurance company installs a billing system that produces inaccurate invoices for its customers but doesn’t proactively advise customers of the issue and waits for customers to call to complain.
  • A streaming TV provider sends an email informing its subscribers their bills are increasing by 35% but only provides chat, no phone calls, for customer inquiries. During the chat session, the subscriber is told to ignore the email as it’s wrong and the increase is much less. 
  • Twelve months after the pandemic shut down the US economy – a major shipper still can’t seem to figure out how to navigate the situation – declaring an ongoing suspension of its service guarantee.
  • Similarly, a large financial institution continues to have this headline on its website. “Due to coronavirus concerns, there may be higher call volume and longer wait times in our Call Center. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
  • A global hotel chain agent can’t cancel a reservation due to a major weather event causing thousands of flight cancellations because it’s less than 24 hours until check-in. Instead, the agent must contact hotel directly and ask permission while the customer waits on the phone.

There are so many more. Meanwhile, customers continue to waste time and energy dealing with ridiculous policies, endless “press 1” phone systems, frustrating chat interactions with BOTS, long hold times, repeated mistakes and so on and so on. 

A few years ago, I read a survey that said, over 90% of companies surveyed wanted to be considered CX leaders in their industry yet less than 40% were just getting started and only 20% considered their CX programs “advanced”. I imagine not much has changed since that survey was taken.

Organizations continually look for the silver bullet. That “one thing” that when executed would solve all their CX woes. If only it was that easy! Continually chasing journey maps, voice of customer programs, process improvements, new strategies, metrics and measurements and better employee engagement might help organizations feel like they are improving their CX, but if they don’t successfully implement these findings, all is for naught. 

There is no silver bullet. But there are ways to start improving your CX today! Ask these 3 simple questions:

  1. What would your customers say about the policy, practice, product, or service your organization is delivering to them?
  2. What are your employees say about the policy, practice, product, or service your organization is delivering to your customers?
  3. What is the one thing I can do today to make a difference in our organization’s customer experience?

Asking these questions is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing dialog among departments, functions, employees, customers, and stakeholders within your organization. They need to become habit forming to be most effective. In fact, you wouldn’t even think about launching a product or implementing a policy without asking these three questions. These questions can start you on a path towards integrating a customer-focus experience into your day-to-day operations and most importantly into the psyche of every employee in your organization. 

Once that happens the concept of having to ask a supervisor’s permission or seek approval from someone in authority goes away. We trust one another to do what’s right for the customer and the organization. We start focusing on solving problems for our customers rather than quoting policies. We work with our customers to solve problems and create relationships instead of one-off transactions. 

The best way for customers to express their dissatisfaction with an organization is to stop buying from it. The best way for organizations to keep their customers is to create relationships instead of treating them like a transaction.

Only then can the elusive “it” be within our grasp. A better customer experience. 


  1. The examples, while relevant to experience, are all customer service scenarios. Many organizations deliver a good buying experience, but there’s where the investment stops. After you’ve become a customer, the experience tanks. I think that should be the focus of this article … “Don’t skimp on post-purchase customer experience” or “CX goes far beyond the purchase.” What is unfortunate for many sellers is that they lose customers solely based on a bad customer service experience.

    Hence, there are two scenarios: sellers that lose deals or have high abandonment during the path to purchase due to bad experience. Then, there’s the seller that provides a great purchase experience but doesn’t retain the buyer due to poor customer service. Part of the problem: customer acquisition and customer retention are handled by two separate organizations. Hence, the lack of a cohesive cradle-to-grave customer experience.

  2. Thanks for your comments. I agree to some extent that these are customer service oriented but the decisions, policies and practices that caused them to be customer service issues are from elsewhere in the organization. Which goes to my point of it being necessary to ensure that all parts of the organization are making decisions oriented towards the customer. Everyone in the organization has responsibility for the experience and the decisions they make every day impact that experience. Very much agree with your comments about customer acquisition and retention.


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