Customer experience (CX) has become a central focus for companies due to its overarching view of the customer’s journey as well as their perceptions of your brands. CX goes beyond individual relationships and transactions by mapping every touchpoint and interaction in that journey. By prioritizing CX, companies can build stronger relationships, innovate faster and differentiate themselves from competition to ultimately increase revenue and gain loyalty. Not to mention, helping employees be more empathetic ambassadors for your brands.

However, it can be risky to claim you’re a CX driven company without a clear understanding of what it actually takes to become a customer obsessed business! Let’s face it, we all believe we are customer-driven employees in some way, and most of us will do whatever it takes to help customers. But that’s only a piece of the customer experience. It may mean that you care about your customers, but it takes focus to implement meaningful changes across your organization, not just within your department which is often siloed from other departments. For example, our operations team may communicate that 95% of customers get their shipments on-time but customer care has seen increased complaints on late shipping. You need to connect the dots between those two departments to figure out what’s going on. That takes cross-functional collaboration to get to the root of the problem. It takes a calculated strategic approach to embed CX in your culture and continuously work to improve it.

To ensure that CX remains meaningful and impactful, it is crucial for businesses to back up their claims with genuine efforts and actions. It requires identifying key people in your organization (ideally full-time employees) who are willing to dig deep to better understand customer needs across departments and actively report out on results. It’s not a project. It’s a commitment that never ends.

I often get asked, where do I start? My reply is always the same…’Talk to your customers.’ It always surprises me that many people think talking to their customers is sending a survey. I am suggesting you pick up the phone or go see them in person. Surveys and other forms of data are always good supplements to better understand wants, needs and desires, but they should never take the place of human interaction. Observing body language, tone, etc. are crucial to real understanding.

If you want to win in the CX game, you need to get closer to your customers while building a culture around that mind-set. For me, it all starts with empathy. Learn how to interview customers in an open-ended way so they tell you stories. You can then dig into those stories using the 5 levels of ‘why.’ If you ask 6-10 customers the same questions, you’ll soon see themes emerge uncovering the key pain-points.

I use an Innovation framework called Design Thinking by Stanford University: ******** It taught me – and then I helped to teach the organization – this framework to gather empathy (6-10 interviews is all you need to start), define the problem by unpacking the themes and narrowing in on a few key themes, ideate on those key themes and then prototype and test with actual customers. It’s an iterative process so you continue to use empathy as you refine your prototypes and test again. We’ve improved services, taken products to market faster, taught our employees to be more empathetic when trying to understand a customer’s pain and the list goes on. I highly recommend you check out Design Thinking or choose a similar framework like Jobs to Be Done from Harvard University: ********

These frameworks as well as others, with empathy at the core, not only help you innovate faster but are likely to change how you help your customers in much more significant ways. By using a combination of Design Thinking, journey maps and personas, you’ll have an unbelievable way to prioritize your work based on the needs that fall short on a customer’s satisfaction scale. And it gives you unbelievable confidence to pitch your ideas to your leadership team or potential customers because you know first-hand what will move the dial for the business. Who can possibly say no to a well-thought-out idea when it comes directly from your customer?

Laurie recently delivered the opening headliner session on this article topic, What is Winnable? Strategic Priorities for Transformative Customer Experiences at Customer Experience 2023: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange in Nashville, Tennessee. Join us in October at the 19th Annual Customer Contact West: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange in Huntington Beach, California.


Laurie’s journey from Marketing to Customer Experience evolved over the last 30 years, most notably when she discovered an innovation framework called Design Thinking. It changed everything, especially her relationship with customers. She led the way building a culture of empathy while solving customer pain points cross-functionally to achieve business results. You can too…