What The Heck Is Customer Experience?

One of the key problems with customer experience is that it’s not an “official” discipline like engineering and accounting. So it lacks a lot of rigor around processes and definitions. That’s why I still get a lot of people asking me questions like: “what exactly is customer experience?

So, here’s my definition of customer experience:

The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization

I’ve previously posted a definition for the perfect customer experience:

A set of interactions that consistently exceeds the needs and expectations of a customer

And I’d define customer experience management (CEM) as:

The discipline of increasing loyalty by exceeding customers’ needs and expectations

There are three key elements to the CEM definition:

  • Discipline. CEM is not about creating slogans like “this is the year of the customer.” It needs to be a set of ongoing activities like a well-established voice of the customer program.
  • Increasing loyalty. CEM is not about an altruistic belief that customers should be treated better. It needs to be linked to more profitable (or strategically improved) long-term behaviors of customers.
  • Customers’ needs and expectations. CEM is not about technology deployments or internal milestones. It needs to be calibrated from the perspective of target customers.

Now that we have some common definitions, it’s time to concentrate on the hard stuff: improving customer experience. And if you’ve been reading my blog, then you know what my recommendation is for that: Chart a path towards Experience-Based Differentiation (the blueprint for customer experience excellence) that conforms with the six laws of customer experience.

The bottom line: CEM is easier to define than to do.

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 (CXPA.org), 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: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

10 thoughts on “What The Heck Is Customer Experience?”

  1. Numerous cognitive neuroscientists have conducted studies that have revealed that only 5% of our cognitive activities (decisions, emotions, actions, behaviour) is conscious whereas the remaining 95% is generated in a non-conscious manner.

    By predicting how users will perceive the words of your navigation, how the eye will non-consciously operate, what level of emotional involvement will be generated by the interfaces and so on, will allow you to build sites that lead to concrete business results and to generate good perception.

  2. Bruce,
    I really like your definitions, and think that they will be helpful in explaining CX to my colleagues.

    One point that I tend to emphasize is that in order to effectively manage the Customer Experience, one must be conscious of the entire spectrum of experiences delivered to your customer. This explains why it misses the mark to simply dig into one small element of the experience.

    Would you agree?

  3. An addition or alteration to the CEM definition…Increasing loyalty….
    ….It needs to be linked to more profitable (or strategically improved) long-term behaviors of customers…
    Perhaps a socialist backdrop for win-win….. align customers to appropriate channels for service … thereby creating a service differentiation and engaging customers with an aspirational value …to constantly move up the chain…. thereby making every customer acquired to a profitable customer….

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