The 4 Customer Experience Competencies

Any company can improve portions of its customer experience, but it takes more than a few superficial changes to create lasting differentiation. So, what are the ingredients for long-term success?

A holistic approach built around four customer experience competencies:

  1. Purposeful Leadership: Executives operate consistently with a clear set of values.
  2. Employee Engagement: Employees are aligned with the goals of  the organization.
  3. Compelling Brand Values: Brand attributes drive how customers are treated.
  4. Customer-Connectedness: Customer insight is integrated throughout the organization.

As companies master these four competencies, they evolve into a “Customer-Centric Organization,” which I define as:

An organization that continuously aligns its resources with customer needs

This overall concept and each of the four competencies will be major themes for my research — and this blog. My goal is to help companies accelerate their path to becoming Customer-Centric Organizations.

The bottom line: Are you leading a Customer-Centric Organization?

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.

8 thoughts on “The 4 Customer Experience Competencies”

  1. Hi Bruce This is a very simple and useful model. I think your focus on competencies is absolutely right. Everyone has a vague picture of what constitutes customer centricity but until we distil the required competencies and put the time into acquiring them, our businesses will continue to flounder.

  2. Great message Bruce. It really starts at the top. So many of my clients want to be customer-centric, but without full support and buy-in from the corporate leaders, these initiatives never bloom to their potential!

  3. Bruce, Nice, simple model. Of course the devil is in the detail below this. One area I see many companies forget is employee engagement. Organizations get customer connection, leadership commitment, and brand promise (sorry used my own word :-), but many organizations miss the point that the employees deliver the experience.

    I’m interested in your thoughts and experience on what companies due to harness the knowledge of the employees in improving the experience. And, my most recent quest – how do you build a sense of organizational pride that translates into delighting customers?

  4. I am teaching an Entrepreneurship course this summer and will be asking students to use your “Quad” example… I find Customer Experience, Customer Delight is all but missing in many business school programs.

  5. Another model I use frequently is one from Jared Spool at UIE (, and I’m happy to see a lot of parallels with your model. Jared has found in his research that only three variables are truly important to define a truly user/customer-centric organization: vision, feedback, and culture.

    Vision: “Does everyone on your team know what the experience will be like interacting with your offerings five years from now?”

    Jared is looking at this problem from a more tactical, design-centric, view but I think the concept of vision encapsulates many of the same ideas as Purposeful Leadership and Compelling Brand Values.

    Feedback: “In the last six weeks, have your team members spent at least two hours watching people experience your product or service?”

    This variable connects directly to Customer Connectedness.

    Culture: “In the last six weeks, has your senior management held a celebration of a recently introduced design problem?”

    I see an overlap with Employee Engagement, but again, Jared’s focus is more tactical.


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