Customer Experience is More than Being Polite

Recently while preparing a birthday dinner,  I overheard my mother telling my aunt, “Oh, she’s in customer experience. It means she helps employees be nice to customers.” Although she gets points for trying, she’s way off the mark.

Yes, a portion of customer experience houses the service aspect of business. However, it’s so much more. It’s a culture, an attitude, the life force of an organization when done correctly. It examines the interactions between your organization and your customers to find opportunities to adjust and redesign both your customers and employees’ experiences. 

But why care about experiences? If your employees are engaged and fulfilled, they provide outstanding service for your customers, who in turn also become more engaged with your organization. Engaged and loyal customers not only come back again, but also increase the likelihood to recommend within their network of influence. This multiples in today’s online world as referrals and recommendations are able to reach in the hundreds and thousands.

However if this feels too soft and fluffy, let’s bring in a few numbers and statistics. 

  • It costs five times as much to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.
  • According to statistics by Bain and Co. in the Harvard Management Update, 80% of companies surveyed said that they offer superior customer service, but only 8% of their customers agreed with them.
  • Businesses only attribute 21% of customer churn to poor customer service (it’s actually 70%).

Traditionally businesses focus on financial results and the costs incurred to obtain those results. It is a company’s activities as a whole that influence its outputs and financials, however leadership tends to leave customer experience out of the overall business priorities. 

If only they realized a customer experience strategy drives long-term business success. A solid customer experience strategy should not only increase revenue per customer and longevity of the relationship with the customer, but also reduce the cost of sales and customer acquisition. Yet time after time, businesses place customer retention and customer loyalty low on the priority list for investment. 

But there’s hope; if organizations start bringing the outside prospective in. According to a study by Bain & Company, by increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Put your employees and customers at the focus of your business activities, empower and engage employees, and you will see your customer engagement and loyalty soar.


Alan E. Webber, "B2B Customer Experience Priorities In An Economic Downturn: Key Customer Usability Initiatives In A Soft Economy," Forrester Research, February 19, 2008