Customer Experience is not what you think

Customer Experience for marketers has become a hot topic. What is and what is not CX?

The misunderstandings around CX

If we assume that the relationship between human beings and brands is like a relationship, the Customer Experience will be the sum of the experiences in the relationship. This comparison perfectly illustrates the complexity of this matter. Unfortunately, Customer Experience is often used as shorthand for the entire User Experience, which is like saying that fashionable and comfortable clothes are a guarantor of a successful relationship. It’s an obvious misunderstanding.

CX is complex

The relationship consists of a whole bunch of interdependent elements. Following in the footsteps of previous comparisons, it might look like this:

  • Advertising and Marketing: Look at how we say what we say
  • PR, social-media: Maintaining a good reputation among others
  • CSR: Help and support
  • IT: Memory and ability to connect known facts together
  • Legal: Discretion (ie. Management of personal information) and proceedings in accordance with the law
  • Call center, front-desk: Troubleshooting
  • Web, sales force: remembering the needs and preferences of customers
  • Interior design: smell, clothes, appearance
  • Etc.

Of course, all these elements should be consistent and focused around an axis. Such consistency demonstrates sincerity, balance and self-awareness. The ingredients also provide a sense of security, which promotes trust and loyalty in the long term.

CX is a sphere, not a ball

Customer Experience includes every point of contact between the organization and the outside world. But this is not necessarily a good definition. Because CX is not only the outside world but also internal. Workers and companies cooperate and willingly share their experiences with the organization on social media. This has a significant impact not only on recruiting talent from the market but also on anyone else who arrives at this information. Social media is like an x-ray throughout the organization, which means that CX is creating experiences outside as well as inside – nothing can be hidden these days.

Old marketing as plastic surgery 

For all the above reasons, and especially due to recent technological revolutions, the DNA of the organization (genotype) is as important as its physical appearance (phenotype). You can correct a phenotype by means of plastic surgery and makeup – to make a better first impression (Stimulus & FMOT) – but if it will not rebound in genotype (appearance), the social media (ZMOT) quickly becomes full of testimony from disillusioned customers, employees and partners (smote). Therefore, the role of marketing is not only to beautify but to stimulate real change in the organization. 

The Stockholm Syndrome and Customer Experience 

Let’s take a fairly classic case. The customer comes to one of the branches of the company with a problem in the use of purchased services. Operations collect the necessary data but no one can solve the problem on the spot. The client is referred to customer service. There, after passing through a long series of questions asked by the switchboard, the client eventually connects to the service and is asked to once again to give all their data and describe the problem again. Help is not coming, so the client looks for solutions on the Internet. In the end, the company sends an on-site service representative, who, despite having a description of the problem, again checks and asks for details. The problem is finally solved – because the service technician performs one call to customer service, effectively describing the problem and solving it by telephone. 

The process described above, which is not uncommon, is proof of most companies’ inability to cope with their own processes. These processes are also often at odds with marketing messages. Additionally, people’s time is wasted and the Customer Experience is destroyed. After the ordeal, the client may feel relief and even gratitude – someone finally released them from an increasingly burdensome problem! This effect is similar to „Stockholm Syndrome,” whereby the victim feels gratitude to their executioner. But this is not the kind of gratitude we want and it has nothing in common with a good Customer Experience. 

Technology is the cause – and the cure 

Technology is the cause of all these changes. It is therefore the only way to make those changes work to your advantage. The case described above can be largely solved through proper implementation of the CRM system and its integration with predictive analytics (Big Data, Machine learning) as well as marketing automation and programmatic buying. It all opens up entirely new possibilities. Feedback problems from any channel, including e-mail, phone and social-media not only generate negative emotions and additional costs, but become a source of relevant data for the organization. 

It may be, for example, that a significant percentage of people report this problem either from the beginning to benefit from additional services or bought it immediately after the problem occurred. It is therefore a great time to take advantage of marketing automation platforms and launch promotional campaigns that encourage the purchase of the expanded service, with an automatic dedicated campaign in the programmatic buying system. The additional benefits for any organization are immense. However, there is no way to measure them all at once – this takes time tests and current improvements. 

What lies in the shadow? An increase of the role of marketing 

Marketing is communication specialists, and Customer Experience is nothing other than communication. The conclusion seems obvious: the design of messages should be the role of marketing. It’s true. But building a successful Customer Experience is really the result of cooperation between IT, sales, HR, and marketing. Everyone has a role, and should be present at every stage and at every moment. If we believe the maxim that innovation and improvement hide in the shadows of organizational silos, their demolition via interdepartmental projects is the key to building a successful Customer Experience. 

The formula for a successful Customer Experience 

(Martech + AdTech + SalesTech) * Imagination / number of silos in the organization = CX 


I was inspired to write this text by the HBR article „Great UX does not guarantee a great customer experience”, which made me realize that narrowing the importance of CX to design and UX is a very common practice.