Customer Experience Is The New Quality

As I discussed in “My Manifesto: Customer Experience Is Free,” today’s push for customer experience is very similar to the quality push in the 1980s. The similarities include:

  • Nobody “owns” it
  • It requires culture change
  • It requires process change
  • It requires discipline
  • Upstream issues cause downstream problems
  • Employees are a key asset in the battle
  • Executive involvement is essential

Interestingly, several people who I interviewed for my current research on customer-centric DNA mentioned quality techniques (e.g., Six Sigma, Lean Sigma, TQM) in our discussions. I even interviewed someone who had the very cool title of “EVP, Customer Experience and Kaizen.” (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kaizen, it’s a Japanese word for continuous improvement. This quality concept was popularized in the 1986 book called Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success).

It’s no surprise that this is coming up in my research on culture given what Philip Crosby, the author of “Quality Is Free,” once said:

Quality is the result of a carefully constructed cultural environment. It has to be the fabric of the organization, not part of the fabric. 

The bottom line: Make customer experience the fabric of your organization.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

6 thoughts on “Customer Experience Is The New Quality”

  1. Pingback:
  2. i also noticed this. when i saw TQM and ISO rules.. there are certain similarities, but i would claim that quality is about value delivered and CEM about value perceived which is also a bit more complex because it inmediately moves to speaking about all interactions with comapny. number of interactions increased because of better connetivity (like case of OnStar) therefore people more frequently use word experience of interaction..

    maybe quality would be like value in Forrester’s experience piramide in some companies they would measure it with number of errors?

  3. Ania: Great observation; the qualiy movement was much more internally focused than we ant to be with customer experience. Crosby’s definition of quality, “conformance to requirements,” focused on consistenly meeting a set of internal specs. ISO 9000 offers a somewhat broader definition of quality: “Degree to which a set of inherent characteristic fulfills requirements,” which incorporates CEM if we think of requirements as customer needs.

  4. The way that i see it… Customer Service has evolved into Customer Experience as Quality has evolved into Service Excellence. Superior customer experience should be the byproduct of excellence in any company

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