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'Customer experience can't be managed' and other hard truths

Posted by Tomas Dickson - 06 November, 2019

“The idea that the customer experience can be managed is a joke”. This hard-hitting line comes from Matt Watkinson, CEO at Methodical and author of The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences. You might wonder why a man in his position would throw so much shade over his own industry, but here’s the reality: he’s not wrong. CX can’t be “managed” in the traditional sense. The CX professionals are not in control.

At least, not in the way we think we are.

Watkinson, in his original post, described how “any decision taken anywhere in the business can affect your customer experience”, and that “non-CX projects probably have more impact on your customer experience than the CX projects do”. I can tell you from my own personal experience that this is absolutely true, and that Matt’s assertion that businesses need to take collective responsibility over CX for these reasons isn’t just good advice—it’s essential.


CX professionals aren’t in control. Everybody is. That’s the hard truth that you have to accept in this industry.


"Non-CX projects probably have more impact on your customer experience than the CX projects do." —Matt Watkinson, CEO at Methodical


But there’s the rub. CX is your job—it’s right there in your title, after all—and it’s tough to convince people that they are responsible too. Even broaching that conversation can cause arguments about accountability. Nobody likes feeling that someone is offloading their duties onto others. People don’t often understand that CX is closer to an all-encompassing cultural change, rather than one person’s ‘job’.

It’s a tough position to be in. To provide all the benefits of CX to the business as part of your role, you have to build a culture of CX among everybody in your business, from CEOs to frontline service staff, but often people just aren’t interested.

The key is, as Matt says, to appeal to self-interest: to prove to your colleagues why they should care about customer experience, how it makes their jobs and lives better, easier and/or more productive.

Tall order, right? Well, here are a few places you can start:


Related content: Fuelling the CX flywheel: the secret to sustainable growth



“Better CX will boost our bottom line/makes us more competitive.”

Who to use this on: C-suite and executives

Argument summary: Businesses are here to generate profit, so the place to target for CEOs and other high-level executives is the impact on the overall bottom line. CX, when applied across an entire company, has been shown to have strong, sometimes immediate benefits to the profitability of a business. Focus on the quick wins to begin with. This will give you proof of the viability of delivering a wider CX programme further down the line. Emphasise how consistency is important for truly transformative CX, and that this cultural change begins at the top.

Useful statistics

  • 86 per cent of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Source.
  • 87 per cent of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience. Source.
  • Fully engaged customers generate 23 per cent more profit, revenue and growth potential compared to the average customers. Source.


“Better CX gets you better, higher-quality leads.”

Who to use this on: Sales

Argument summary: A core method in establishing CX is generating insights from existing customers to improve the experience for future customers. For sales, this translates into getting access to constantly improving sets of leads, as their perceptions of the company become more positive with every interaction. In short, better customer experience leads to prospects who will be far more receptive to conversion and retention efforts.

Useful statistics

  • 86 per cent of customers who receive a great customer experience are likely to repurchase from the same company. Source.


“Better CX will help you attract more contacts.”

Who to use this on: Marketing

Argument summary: Word of mouth and customer reviews are powerful tools in the marketing arsenal. Good customer experience simply enhances them, giving customers the means, motive and opportunity to rave about a company. This positive feedback can then be used in marketing material to provide powerful social proof, not to mention the chance for already open-minded contacts seeking you out after a recommendation.

Useful statistics

  • 1 in 10 unhappy customers will share that experience with 15 or more people, whereas the vast majority of customers with a positive experience will share that with 6 or more people. Source.


“Better CX means fewer complaints.”

Who to use this on: Service

Argument summary: CX, as a whole, is about understanding what the customer wants and giving it to them in the manner that they want it to be given. With that in mind, it’s obvious how CX can help service: fulfilled customers are happy customers, and happy customers make fewer complaints. However, there’s more to it than that. Some CX projects can directly impact the amount of work that the service department has to manage. Take self-service, as an example. Plenty of customers would prefer to resolve their issues themselves rather than contact the service department. A culture built around CX would encourage projects that fulfill that need, directly reducing the service department’s workload as customers self-service instead.

Useful statistics

  • 50 per cent of customers think it’s important to solve product or service issues themselves. Source.
  • 70 per cent of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. Source.


“You’ll get a chance to learn new skills.”

Who to use this on: Anyone in any department with some ambition

Argument summary: CX is an integral part of doing business; in some industries, it’s the primary defining feature between a company and its competitors. As such, it has become a valuable skillset to have—and anyone who accepts offers to become CX champions in their department gets the opportunity to demonstrate their worth and willingness to learn essential skills.

Useful statistics

  • Over 80 per cent of organisations expected to compete mainly based on CX in 2018. Source.



These arguments that target the most common pain points and how they can be resolved through CX should get you on the way there, but remember: CX is an ongoing, transformational process, and success is often hard-won—you need buy-in from everyone to really make a difference. These arguments should start you down the right path, but remember: a CX professional’s job is always changing, always evolving.

Remain agile, remain open-minded, and remember: CX-based cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean it’s just a dream.


Want to get a better handle on managing customer experiences? Download our free guide: The common pitfalls of customer experience management.

Common CX Pitfalls. Download Now

Topics: Customer Experience

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