Customer Service

17 Sacred Cows of Customer Experience

A colleague of mine at SDL, David Ashton, recently published a blog post about the six sacred cows of customer experience, really a series of myths that exist around customer experience. Here they are:

#1 IT Professionals don’t care about the customer
#2 NPS is the only metric system you need
#3 CXM is just a new term for better customer experience
#4 A centralized CRM system gives you a 360 degree view of the customer
#5 A managed customer experience is only important with consumers… it doesn’t matter in B2B
#6 I’m not on Twitter therefore social media isn’t a valid marketing channel

After reading David’s post, I had two questions.

1. Is David missing any?
2. Specifically for number #3 ‘CXM is just a new term for better customer experience’, do you think that’s true and if so, or not, why?

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When David first published his six sacred cows, I really wanted to discuss, “CXM is just a new way of saying customer service,” because I think there’s a lot of debate about the definition of customer experience management in the industry, and one article that discusses the topic well is Steven Walden’s article, “What is Customer Experience Management? Did Pine and Gilmore get it wrong?” especially where Steven provides an overview of the process of testing customer talk as a way of determining what customer experience is and is not.

Steven goes on to discuss how the industry defines customer experience. And this article was one of the reasons why I wanted to gain commentary from the community. My colleagues did a great job of providing insights and helping the industry thinking on the term. I want to know what you think is the definition of CXM, and did the discussion on both questions one and two, change your thinking?

To start the discussion off I went out into the customer experience community and asked several colleagues those two questions, here’s the result:

Flavio Martins –

1. No. I think that when it comes to customer experience, he’s dead on when it comes to some of the biggest myths that hamper customer experience management from getting traction in the board rooms of businesses today. All of these myths are real misconceptions shared by many non-customer facing managers and business executives today.

2. CXM is the most critical myth that prevents businesses from getting the full benefit of their customer experience actions. It’s critical because CXM is the development and implementation of a roadmap for a customer experience program. Without proper management of the customer experience, CX efforts are just random customer actions that never deliver the ultimate desired result.

Fred Zimny –

1. David only addresses 6 sacred cows of customer experience. There are many more.

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E.g. heavily exceeding customer expectations creates more profit in the long run.

2. Sometimes, statements get slippery. Meshing up the customer’s experience (as perceived by the customer) with the internal approach (as delivered by an organization) is such an example. CXM may also result in less customer service and a better fit between customer expectations and the delivery of an organization. Resulting in more profits.


John: Translations sometimes have different meanings, and for Fred when he heard the use of sacred cows, he thought of a saying in the Netherlands. Fred said, “We have a proverb that states that one should not get drown cows out of the water (actually a ditch).”

Paul Greenberg –

1. “You can give the customer the experience they want.” First, you can’t give them the kind of experience they want with you. They have to sculpt the experience they want with you. Part of what makes a good customer experience good is that the customer controls the quality and effort involved in it. Without that control, it diminishes its value greatly, since one of the basics of human beings lives is that they control their own destiny to the extent that it is possible. Plus if you are an enterprise and scale to millions of customers, providing a customized experience to the customer tailored to the individual is so costly as to be prohibitive. So what you can do is provide the customer with the products, services, tools and smaller consumable experiences that allow them to choose how they want to interact with you and sculpt the kind of experience they want with you.

2. For starters, I don’t think that #3 is a myth. CX was the term that RightNow gave Customer Experience Management and that Oracle picked up when they acquired RightNow. But the foundation for customer experience as a core strategy and practice for business has been around a long time. The tools, techniques, social psychology, and processes evolve over time and have done so, but the foundation remains whether you put an X or an E in the space following the C.

Margerita de Miranda – @MardeMir

1. I would add two other cows in that context: “Backoffices don’t influence the customer experience, only front offices.” and “Cultural aspects don’t matter when it comes to customer service”.

2. If CRM focuses more on internal processes to enhance the customer experience and CXM is aimed externally, why not combine them? Both are significant in delivering the best customer experience and, hence, go hand in hand. If companies want to compete and provide excellent service, they should focus and work on CRM and CXM.

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Mike Wittenstein –

1. Your first question was “is David missing any?” To his list, I would add:

• #7 If I can get my customers to do what I want through a better experience
• #8 If we just fix CX on the outside, we can stay the same on the inside
• #9 A better experience is too expensive for us

As to David’s third point, I like that CXM has emerged as a specialty discipline around CX. It shows a focus on metrics, measurement, and incremental improvements. These are all important aspects of any discipline.

I’d like to see equal attention for the term CXD, which stands for customer experience design. When new practitioners focus on the M in CXM, they quickly come to see the customer’s experience as something to be managed and controlled. In my opinion, customers’ experiences should be designed FOR them. Often, when CXM thinking is applied, the result is business systems that do more TO the customer (because their design point is helping the business).

More CXD, and equal dose of CXM. That will lead to delighted customers, engaged employees, and better profits for the shareholders.

Annette Franz (Gleneicki) –

1. First question… are there any other myths? There are more, but I’d like to add two:

1. All customers are created equal.
2. it’s too expensive to improve the customer experience.

2. To your question about #3…#3 CXM is just a new term for better customer experience
(I prefer CEM :-))

I think CEM will lead to a better customer experience, but it is not a new term for better customer experience. CEM, or customer experience management, refers to the holistic approach organizations must take to improve the customer experience. By “holistic approach” I’m referring, first, to all of the things that facilitate, or go into, creating a better customer experience: tools, people, culture, processes, data, leadership, etc. … and, second, how those components are all combined and utilized to create a great experience for your customers.

Colin Shaw

1. Oftentimes, people think a customer experience is just a rational experience so they don’t -– over 50 percent of a customer’s experience is about how a customer feels. What people mainly think of is customer experience as being something that we would call “rational.” So, in other words, it’s about price, place, promotion, you know, the classic “4 Ps” where, a customer experience, over 50 percent of an experience is about how a customer feels. So it’s about emotions. So I guess the way you could write that here is people consider customer experience only to be the rational part of an experience.

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Thinking that you can change one thing and it’s going to solve all your problems. So, if I change this one thing, then everything will be better. And it’s not. Changing, improving the customer experience is a multifaceted task. And, therefore, you have to change a number of things.

2. I think the danger is that what you’re doing by -– by saying (CXM) or CEM… you’re turning it internally again and you’re not looking at it externally. Customer experience management by definition is managing the customer experience. If you are doing that, then you’re looking at how the organization manages the customer experience; whereas improving the customer experience seems to come from a customer perspective. You know, at the end of the day, it’s a circular argument because you are obviously then getting to “what is it we can do internally to improve the customer experience,” and, therefore, you improve customer experience management. For me, the danger is, it just becomes an internal thing. So do you have to do customer experience management? Yes. So I’m certainly not advocating that you don’t have to do the things that you’ve articulated and judged and all the rest of it. But what’s lacking in most organizations is that external view, so anything that changes it internally as opposed to an external method is that you’re probably better off still talking about it as customer experience.

Adding Up The 17 Sacred Cows

I thought I’d consolidate everyone’s sacred cows, I’ll be interested to hear if David agrees with the list, here’s the list:

#7 Heavily exceeding customer expectations creates more profit in the long run. Fred Zimny
#8 You can give the customer the experience they want. Paul Greenberg
#9 Back offices don’t influence the customer experience, only front offices. Margerita de Miranda
#10 Cultural aspects don’t matter when it comes to customer service. Margerita de Miranda
#11 If I can get my customers to do what I want through a better experience. Mike Wittenstein
#12 If we just fix CX on the outside, we can stay the same on the inside. Mike Wittenstein
#13 A better experience is too expensive for us. Mike Wittenstein
#14 All customers are created equal. Annette Franz (Gleneicki)
#15 It’s too expensive to improve the customer experience. Annette Franz (Gleneicki)
#16 People consider customer experience only to be the rational part of an experience. Colin Shaw
#17 Thinking that you can change one thing and it’s going to solve all your problems. Colin Shaw

Originally posted at

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