Top 10 Customer Experience Incompetencies

First of all, for all of the literary purist, I have to admit that “incompetencies” does not seem to be an actual word in the dictionary — but it fit so well that I decided to use it anyway.

I was combing through the results from the Temkin Group Customer Experience Competency Assessment that we administered to 140 companies in May and realized that it would be interesting to share the areas where companies most often fail, or as I like to call them, The Top 10 Customer Experience Incompetencies:

It’s no surprise that the top incompetency is around brands. All too often, companies “offload” their brand to marketing and advertising organizations. But “true brands” should capture the minds and souls of ALL employees. It’s an organization’s raison d’être. As I’ve said in the past:

True brands are more than just marketing slogans, they’re the fabric that aligns all employees with customers in the pursuit of a common cause.

You can get more details about this data in a couple of Temkin Group reports:

The bottom line: Do you know your customer experience strengths and weaknesses?

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 “Top 10 Customer Experience Incompetencies”

  1. Actually, I’ll take a moment to point out that as per the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary, “incompetency” is actually the proper plural of incompetency. So you’re fine!

    That said, I like this chart because it points out what so many of us often miss in the daily hubbub-that our brand has to begin internally before we can make it work anywhere else.

  2. Bruce-
    Question for you.. What is your perspective on where branding and customer experience organizations should be housed, and would you also share your thoughts on the intersection points between the two?

  3. Thanks Bruce! I am not surprised to see which competencies were the weakest, but I am surprised that the percentages are as high as they are. Most notably that 29% of companies treat treat their customer experience metrics as importantly as their financial metrics? Really? I am a huge advocate of customer experience belonging on the balance sheet but in my experience companies that think they do this, only really do it in theory. Can you share some examples of companies that are practicing this?

  4. Hi Bruce New circumstances sometimes need new language. I’m happy with incompetencies. I did my own word creation exercise 3 years ago with Clienteer.
    The issue as I see it is that we are trying to hammer new market requirements into existing functional silos where history, training and context all work against a successful outcome. Before functions like HR and Accounting were fully recognised and established, their work was typically spread across a business. Now we have clearly delineated competencies for these functions and their contribution and output value is clearly recognised. What your statistics show, I believe, is that cross functional “customer work” is still in its infancy in terms of focus and understanding. Our marketing and sales people are typically “hunters” by virtue of their training, experience and industry norms, and rightly so. What we need now are the new “farming” competencies that the increasing empowered customer is demanding.
    And finally, if you are giving permission to create new language I’ll add another concept. For many years our businesses have developed good skills in the B2B and B2C channels i.e. where the money comes from. Where they now need to develop their competencies is in the B2Me channel, i.e. where the insight and understanding comes from.

  5. Excellent points identified in the survey results and other comments. Another thing to consider is the level of customer-centric motives versus self-centered motives for each competency. I’ve worked in companies that did a good job in many of these areas, but I noticed that the managers’ activity was sometimes fueled by self-serving purposes more than trying to gain a pure understanding of the customer’s world and placing their interests first with a belief that self-interests would naturally be served as a by-product.

    I’ve written on this topic of customer-centric motives several times – here are a couple articles that may be of interest:
    Double-Check Motives & Assmumptions to Improve Customer Experience
    Why Internal Branding is Central to Customer Experience Management

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