Marketers’ Guide to the Six Laws of Customer Experience

Customer experience may be all the rage, but it’s no wonder that my most popular piece of content over the previous few years has been the eBook The Six Laws of Customer Experience: The Fundamental Truths That Define How Organizations Treat Customers. It’s a simple guide to the basic underlying principles of customer experience (CX). Let’s take a look at each of them, along with some specific implications for marketers.

CX Law #1: Every action creates a personal reaction

Simply put, experiences are totally in the eyes of the beholder. The same exact experience can be good for one person and bad for another. Another way to think about it is the notion that “experiences designed for everyone satisfy no one.”

Implications for marketers: To create an effective experience—whether it’s a TV spot, an interactive website, or an in-store design—you need to specifically identify the target audience. Personas can be a valuable tool for communicating the needs of that audience.

CX Law #2: People are instinctively self-centered

Everyone has his own frame of reference, which heavily influences what he does and how he does it. Customers care intensely about their own needs and desires, but they don’t generally know or care about how companies are organized. Employees also have their individual frames of reference, which often include a deeper understanding of products, company organization, and subject matter. If left unchecked, decisions made inside of companies will reflect employees’ frame of reference, not customers’.

Implications for marketers: Test all of your creative work with target customers. Decisions made in a conference room will most likely reflect the likes, dislikes, and interests of the employees in the room.

CX Law #3: Customer familiarity breeds alignment

Not many employees wake up in the morning and say, “Today, I want to make life miserable for our customers.” Given that most people want to better serve their customers, a clear view of what customers need, want, and dislike can align decisions and actions. If everyone shared a vivid view of the target customers and had access to customer feedback, then there would be less disagreement about what to do for them.

Implications for marketers: When making decisions, use as much customer insight as possible. If you feel any uncertainty, go out and talk to more customers.

CX Law #4: Unengaged employees ‘don’t create engaged customers

It seems obvious that if you want to improve the customer experience, then you should focus completely on customers. But for most firms, that’s not the correct approach. Where should you focus? On employees. While you can make some customers happy through brute force, you cannot sustain great customer experience unless your employees are bought in to what you’re doing and are aligned with the effort.

Implications for marketers: Any external campaign should first start with an internal campaign that includes making sure employees understand and buy in to what is being said externally.

CX Law #5: Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated 

Some executives struggle to understand why their company doesn’t deliver better customer experiences. But it shouldn’t be such a big mystery. It’s all about how you deal with employees, who tend to conform to the environment that they’re in. So what are the key elements to the corporate environs? The metrics that are tracked, the activities that are rewarded, and the actions that are celebrated.

Implications for marketers: Look across your marketing group and consider all of the people you need to achieve your goals. If you want them to support your efforts, then try and create measurements, incentives, and celebrations that will reinforce that behavior.

CX Law #6: You ‘can’t fake it

You can fool some people for a little while, but most can eventually tell what’s real and what’s not. Employees can sense if customer experience isn’t a top priority with the executive team. This also shows up in marketing efforts. No matter how much money you spend on advertising, you can’t convince customers that you provide better experiences than you do.

Implications for marketers: Stop pushing campaigns that don’t accurately depict what customers will experience. Customers will eventually know the truth, leading to the creation of bad will and lost confidence in your brand.

The bottom line: Marketers need to master all Six Laws of CX.

  Bruce Temkin, managing partner and customer experience transformist at Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting company. He is widely viewed as a leading expert in customer experience.
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