It's Time To Exercise Your Customer Experience Muscles

I was talking to a client the other day who was very frustrated. She told me that her executives talk about customer experience all the time; they seem “bought in” to the idea that it matters. But when push comes to shove, none of them have done anything to drive real improvement.

She asked me . . . how can that be? If they get it, why don’t they do something?

I struggled with this question for a long time but finally came up with an analogy that made everything clear. It’s this: Customer experience is the “eat healthy and exercise” of the business world.

Think about it. We could say the following about both topics:

  • Everyone knows it’s important, and why.
  • When talking to others, we probably pretend we do it better than we actually do.
  • Deep down, we aren’t quite sure what we should do — it’s complicated and confusing.
  • The things we know we should do just aren’t that fun or exciting, so we often avoid them.

This analogy totally reframed the issue for me and made me think differently about the best way to spur action. I don’t spend as much time explaining why CX is important anymore. Instead, I try to help them figure out exactly what to do differently and then make it easy and enjoyable for them to do it.

In the health realm, that’s why experts created simple guidelines like “eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day” or “move at least 30 minutes a day.” And it’s why restaurants are making it easier for consumers to make good choices by adding nutritional info to their menus.

In customer experience, we can take similar steps. We can spell out in simple terms what employees should do to improve customer experience. And then we can make it much easier for them to adopt those practices by providing better tools, processes, and training.

That’s actually why I created Forrester’s customer experience maturity framework — to provide more clarity about what it takes to excel at customer experience. It’s not quite as simple as the “five-a-day” slogan, but my goal was always to spell things out in concrete, action-oriented terms.

I’ll be presenting this framework at our Outside In: A forum for Customer Experience Professionals, which will take place in Los Angeles on November 14th and 15th.  (Fitting since Los Angeles is such a health-conscious city, right?) If you want to learn how to use it to improve the health of your company’s customer experience, I hope you’ll join me.

And if the weather’s nice, maybe we can all go for a walk afterward. Every little bit helps!



It's Time To Exercise Your Customer Experience Muscles

With customer experience, one has to be very holistic because while for some it is an instinct, for some it is a process that involves a lot of action/repetitive training. You take at companies that invest in the hours and technology to enablement customer experience (like Nordstrom with mobile checkout or Container store's investment in employee training), the results show. Just like proper diet and exercise, it isn't easy to do every day, but the good ones do.

Excellent analogy, Megan. I

Excellent analogy, Megan. I think it also extends to executives having different perspectives on what it means to be customer experience focused and lead with the customer in mind. Much like your health analogy, people can have different views on what constitutes "healthy living" - for example, some might say "no sugar" and others might say "sugar in moderation". I think a common definition, goal and strategy for customer experience is key to success.

Great point, Tabitha! Clarity

Great point, Tabitha! Clarity is so key to any type of an organizational transformation process. It's important not just in terms of the experience you want to deliver but also the processes you're going to use to get there.

great post

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Long vs. Short Term

I think the reason is similar to why it’s so hard for companies to treat employees like assets. ( Quite simply, it requires companies to make long-term investments with uncertain (and often unmeasurable) returns.

And you can't build muscles without paying to join a gym!

Hi Megan,

Another way to get a business to truly commit to improving the Customer Experience, is to have them voice their commitment through that universally-understood language of business:

Build it into the budget!

Once funds are allocated for CEx improvement intiatiatives, the firm will have skin in the game, and will more likely follow through. This is a topic about which Harley blogged 9 months ago, which drove me to further the conversation (

Now, if a firm establishes a budget, and couples that with some clear and concrete intiatives like those you've described, there should be no turning back!

Jim Watson
Portland, Maine

Love this!

I love this analogy! It really makes you think how your business handles customer experience and if you are really doing anything to improve it or not. Good customer experience will ultimately lead to loyal customers. For more information on how to improve customer experience, visit us at

Awesome Blog

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