7 Myths of Customer Experience (And Why They're Wrong)

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While customer experience has been widely acknowledged as a competitive differentiator, experts agree that many disparities exist between what companies believe they are doing for their customers and what customers actually go through when they interact with them.

“Customer experience is the perception a customer has of your brand,” says Blake Morgan, author of the book More Is More: How the Best Companies Go Farther and Work Harder to Create Knock-Your-Socks-Off Customer Experiences. “Your executive team might think that customer experience is A, but if your customers believe that your experience is B, guess what your customer experience is? It’s B. It’s how your customers perceive your experience to be.”

Justin Robbins, content director at the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), set out to illustrate this, and at last year’s CRM Evolution conference in Washington, D.C., he presented research that pointed to the discrepancies between these two points of view.

Robbins surveyed 576 high-ranking managers at 500 financial, healthcare, education, and telecommunications service providers to find out what they thought their customers expected from them. Robbins compared his findings with results from another poll, this one conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of inContact, in which 2,028 customers of these 500 companies related what they expected from their online and phone-based purchase and service experiences during the busiest shopping months of the year (from August to January). The findings supported the original theory that customers and companies are operating under two very different sets of assumptions when it comes to customer service expectations.

It’s important that companies address these gaps, which are tied to seven primary customer service myths. The dangers of doing nothing, experts agree, can be great, given the number of companies that make decisions based on what they think customers expect from them.


In reality, 80 percent of the customers said they believe organizations put more effort into selling to them than providing them with excellent customer service. When surveyed separately, only 12 percent of contact center leaders acknowledged this.

“Clearly we don’t have an understanding of what the customer experience is,” Robbins said at the conference. Because professionals can get so caught up in the inner workings of their organizations—the processes that are used, the systems that are in place, and the decisions that are made—it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a customer.

What to do about it: Experts recommend taking steps to view the customer experience through the customer’s eyes. “If you have the opportunity to be customers of your own company, do it! Do it! Do it!” Robbins urged. “Or you’re never going to get closer to understanding what the customer experience is like.”

Robert Johnson, CEO of TeamSupport, a provider of customer support software, agrees. “The old saw is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes,” he says. “That’s easy to say, but really hard to do, especially when every company has a push to be profitable, or more profitable, and the focus really tends to be internal—what’s best for the company and its processes, [profit and loss statements], and cash flow—not necessarily what’s best for the customer. I would argue, of course, that if you make things better for the customer, you will end up with more customers, more revenue, and things like that, in the long term.”

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