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Understanding great CX necessitates first learning about the pitfalls that make it impossible to successfully implement.

That's because no initiative—not even one handed down directly from the C-suite—can overcome the costly errors that create a persistent disconnect between your organization's brand and your customers' expectations.

The following is a primer on the three biggest mistakes to avoid when crafting your organization's CX.

CX Mistake No. 1: Treating Customer Service and Customer-Centricity as the Same Thing

Talking to Sales about customers isn't the same as talking to customers.

That's because talking to customers doesn't mean just asking questions; that's one-way communication. Talking to customers means listening to them and creating genuine organic conversation.

Talking to a single salesperson gives you a miniscule view of how your organization relates to customers. The aperture widens if you talk to the Sales manager, but it's still relatively tiny. Even VPs and other senior leadership have limited perspective informed mostly by chatter within their own four walls.

Meanwhile, the most vital part of the equation—the customers—are speaking through their decisions: Whether filling out a contact form or consuming an e-book, they're providing metrics that can inform strategy and tactics.

Enterprise companies think of such data as the basis for actionable insights. They go about adjusting their daily and yearly operations based on what the data is supposedly telling them, and that is what supposedly makes them "customer-centric."

Ultimately, however, they're just providing customer service, and that should never be confused with customer-centricity.

What's the difference? It's a distinction between being proactive and being reactive.

Regardless of what companies think of as important "customer-centric" mechanisms—from a call center that strives for quick responses to high NPS ratings to a chatbot that follows a scripted cadence—they're still waiting for the customer to do something to create a golden opportunity to "provide good service."

That's certainly an important function, just like Accounting or HR. It's not the same thing, however, as intentionally designing your programs, content, technology, and even supply chain around customers and what they mean to you.

CX Mistake No. 2: Focusing on Transactions Instead of Transformation

Customer service is transactional by nature. Though it may save a valuable transaction from a customer who has chosen you, it does very little to create a lasting relationship that will turn your customers into your biggest advocates.

After all, what's to stop your competitors from following the same successful call center playbook your reps follow, or using the latest interactive chatbot tools you've acquired?

Think about how you shop for groceries: You likely go to the same supermarket or two every week. You started shopping there for a select few reasons. It may have been proximity to your house. It might have been the prices.

What kept you there, however, was likely something not so easily measurable. Something more foundational—the company's values, the aesthetics of its stores, the pleasant temperament of its employees—created an association with their brand in your mind. When people you know explain why they shop at another supermarket they like, you counter at length with why you favor the supermarket you shop at. You're invested in its brand!

That series of moments backed by unique and foundational aspects transformed you from just another consumer to a brand evangelist that can engage other prospective customers far more effectively than any outbound campaign or piece of content can.

CX Mistake No. 3: Putting Tools and Processes Above Dedication

One of the first questions organizations ask when they decide to revamp their CX is "What now?" The answers usually take the form of tools or platforms to adopt that promise better, more efficient customer interactions and insights.

To truly make a difference, however, you don't need as much technology as you might think, though it's helpful in that it provides customer-facing personnel with data that can facilitate intelligent, productive conversation, so customers don't feel like they must keep repeating themselves. Technology plays several roles in making CX more seamless and streamlined, but success boils down to the right mentality you need to truly serve the customer.

CX is no different from any other initiative in that it takes commitment and consistency. Otherwise, employees just move on to the next thing that senior leadership wants them to pivot to.

If you want your CX initiative to be sustainable, all aspects of your organization must be tied to it. There must be long-range planning tied to it. And, most important, you must have a stakeholder with enough power and authority in your organization who can continue to champion it, even as priorities and budgets shift.

Once an organization decides to follow the north star of true customer experience instead of surrendering to the whims and paradigm shifts of reactive customer service, it's a whole new ballgame.

More Resources on Customer Experience

How to Win With CX in the Hybrid World

How to Achieve Loyalty & Growth Through Customer Experience Excellence | MarketingProfs Webinar

What Makes Customer Experience: Jeannie Walters on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

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image of Dr. Debbie Qaqish

Dr. Debbie Qaqish is the principal and chief strategy officer at The Pedowitz Group, a management consulting group that helps sales and marketing executives drive more revenue.

LinkedIn: Dr. Debbie Qaqish

image of Jeff Pedowitz

Jeff Pedowitz is a Forbes bestselling author and president and CEO of The Pedowitz Group, a management consulting group that helps sales and marketing executives drive more revenue.

LinkedIn: Jeff Pedowitz