Chrysler Avows New Customer Experience Religion

Yesterday’s USA Today provided a double-header for my blogging. In addition to the ad from AA pilots, there was also a full-page ad from Chrysler that started as follows:

Quality is one of those fluffy words. After you see it or hear it enough times, it doesn’t mean anything anymore

The ad announced that the auto maker had created a Chief Customer Officer position and that it aims to put the customer first, which it described as a “basic rule of corporate etiquette.”

My take: The beginning of the Chrysler ad reminded me of My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience Is Free. In that post, I discussed how customer experience is a lot like quality. So, hopefully, Chrysler execs are reading my blog and/or research.

If they are reading this blog, then I suggest that they also follow my advice about how to successfully implement the role of Chief Customer Officer. That research outlined five broad areas of focus: 1) Make sure that you’ve got the right environment; 2) Prepare to take on a broad change agenda; 3) Establish a strong operating structure; 4) Kick off high-priority activities; 5) Look ahead to the future.

But the presence of a Chief Customer Officer does not immediately convert Chrysler to the customer experience sect. The entire executive team needs to learn, internalize, and dedicate themselves to a new set of sacred rituals. What text can they use for guidance and inspiration? You guessed it: Experience-Based Differentiation (EBD). EBD is a blueprint to customer loyalty that builds upon three principles:

  1. Obsess about customer needs, not product features
  2. Reinforce the brand with every interaction, not just communications
  3. Treat customer experience as a competency, not a function.

As a start to the conversion process, the executive team should take the EBD self-test and use the results as a basis for discussing where to invest their time and energy.

The bottom line: You can’t convert to the customer experience religion by proclamation; you need to dedicate your professional life to it.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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