Some things are so necessary to our health that to describe “why they matter” seems ridiculous (e.g. breathing).  This is how I feel when I read articles about why the customer experience matters. The fact that such articles are written implies that some companies believe the customer experience doesn’t matter.


Years ago, one of my children, a pre-schooler at the time, cut their foot on a piece of glass and began to bleed. It hurt, she was crying, and the sight of the blood was anything but calming.  What moved her from tears to meltdown was her sister’s not-so-helpful exclamation of “IF YOU LOSE TOO MUCH BLOOD YOU’LL DIE!” If you stop breathing your chances aren’t too good either.

In my view a company’s chances of surviving or thriving aren’t too good if they ignore the customer experience. Customers are the lifeblood of business. After all, “IF YOU LOSE TOO MANY CUSTOMERS YOU’LL GO BANKRUPT!” This isn’t to say that your company should serve any and all customers however.

What you should do is:

  1. Validate your market – are you serving the right customers? I recommend Joellyn Sargent’s article titled “The CEO’s Number One Rule for Customer Experience.”
  2. Align your resources – from HR ensuring you have the right people, to the marketing team selling to [only] your target audience, you must strip away distractions.
  3. Trim your customers – if you are actively serving customers who aren’t in your target market there is a good chance that they are either (a) less profitable than other customers because of the amount of resources you are expending and/or (b) unhappy because you haven’t spent (can’t afford) the resources needed to satisfy them. Consider whether keeping them makes sense.
  4. Create a total experience – the goal is to ensure that what you do is what your customers need (not necessarily want). Include things such as advertising, creating, delivering, supporting and expanding your products.  People who think “the experience” is merely buying and supporting are missing critical aspects of the journey and are putting your brand and reputation at risk.

Writing this post has felt like an exercise in stating the obvious. If reading it has felt the same way, please forward it to decision-makers who seem to be missing the point. Given the number of disappointed and downright irate customers, “why the customer experience matters” is a topic that still requires the attention of business leaders across many industries.

The pivot point is a quotation attributed to Kenneth B. Elliott:

The customer is not dependent upon us—we are dependent upon him. The customer is not an interruption of our work—he is the purpose of it. The customer is not a rank outsider to our business—he is a part of it. The customer is not a statistic—he is a flesh-and-blood human being completely equipped with biases, prejudices, emotions, …. The customer is not someone to argue with or match wits against—he is a person who brings us his wants. If we have sufficient imagination, we will endeavor to handle them profitably to him and to ourselves.

Why Breathing Matters
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