24 customer experience misconceptions debunked

Gain clarity on what customer experience truly means and how it impacts your marketing and business results.

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It’s important that everyone is clear on the definition of customer experience. There are so many incorrect uses of the term and misconceptions about the concept itself that create confusion and dilute the work that needs to be done.

What is customer experience (CX)?

Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a brand over the life of the relationship with that brand. More importantly, it’s the feelings, emotions and perceptions customers have about those interactions.

To further confuse matters, we often refer to the discipline of “customer experience management” simply as “customer experience.” That’s OK. 

But it’s important to remember that customer experience management is about the set of practices that your company will employ to design, deliver and improve the customer experience.

Dig deeper: 5 simple ways to improve customer experience

Addressing 24 common CX misconceptions

Let’s go back to the misuse and misconceptions about customer experience. I thought I’d dedicate an article to listing out several things that I’ve heard and to debunking those notions.

1. ‘Customer experience is just customer service; customer experience and customer service are one and the same’ 

While customer service is an important aspect of the customer experience, it’s not the only component. It’s one of those interactions in the definition and it’s also how we interact with customers, i.e., we service them. Customer experience encompasses the entire journey a customer takes with a company, from need through purchase and post-purchase interactions.

2. ‘Customer experience is solely the responsibility of the CX team’

Every department — from marketing to product development to sales — plays a role in shaping and delivering the customer experience. Yes, your CX team does the work to understand customers and provide the rest of the organization with insights about customers and their needs, preferences, expectations and jobs to be done. Still, the CX team is not doing the work to improve systems, processes, policies, etc. to deliver a better experience. That work lies with the departments that impact the particular journeys.

3. ‘The customer’s experience is only impacted by the frontline’

CX is not just about frontline interactions. If you work in the back office and don’t interact with a customer face to face, you support the customer experience in other ways or support someone who does interact face to face. Consequently, you impact the experience. Build out a service blueprint to prove that point to your employees.

4. ‘Customer experience is the same as user experience’

While customer experience and user experience (UX) are related, they are not interchangeable. UX refers to the interaction between a user and a specific product or service interface, while CX encompasses the entire journey and relationship a customer has with a brand across various touchpoints and interactions, including with the product.

5. ‘A good product/service alone guarantees a great customer experience’

While having a quality product or service is crucial, it’s not the entirety of delivering a great customer experience. Factors like ease of use, accessibility, support and emotional connection contribute to the customer experience.

6. ‘Customer experience is only about saying ‘yes’ and making customers happy’

While happy customers are important, a good CX strategy goes beyond just making customers happy in the moment. It should aim to build long-term relationships, loyalty and advocacy by consistently meeting expectations, solving problems and delivering value.

7. ‘Customer experience is solely about customer satisfaction’

Customer satisfaction is a crucial aspect or outcome of a great experience, but it’s not the only goal. Customer experience also encompasses factors like customer loyalty, advocacy and emotional engagement. Focusing solely on satisfaction may overlook these other important outcomes.

8. ‘Customer experience and voice of the customer are the same thing’

About 20 years ago, this was an actual debate. It’s not as commonly debated today, but many folks still believe that doing surveys is all you must do.

We must consider all the effort that goes into it before and after the feedback, the other listening posts available and the extensive work involved in customer understanding and experience design.

Dig deeper: The new blueprint for customer experience: Always on, always listening

9. ‘Customer experience is difficult to measure’

There’s no shortage of metrics and tools available to assess different aspects of the customer journey. Metrics include Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES), while solicited and unsolicited quantitative and qualitative feedback provide the data to support those measurements.

10. ‘Customer experience is all about the metrics’

Focusing on improving the metrics is not the way to improve the customer experience. Focus on the customer and the customer’s feedback, then make improvements based on that, and the needle will move on the metrics as a result — not the other way around.

11. ‘Customer experience can be fixed with technology’

While technology plays a role in facilitating, enabling and enhancing the experience, it’s not the sole driver, nor is it the experience. People, processes, culture and strategy must be the foundation of designing and delivering a great customer experience.

12. ‘Customer experience is a one-time initiative’

The work you do to improve the experience is an ongoing, long-term commitment that requires continuous improvement and adaptation. It’s not something that can be achieved through a one-time project or initiative but rather a mindset and culture permeating the organization.

13. ‘The customer experience can be improved overnight’

Transforming the customer experience involves cultural shifts, process improvements, employee training, technology implementation and ongoing refinement. While quick wins are possible, sustainable improvements typically take time to achieve.

14. ‘Customer experience is only relevant for B2C companies’

While B2C companies may have more direct interactions with individual customers, B2B companies must prioritize CX. If you have customers (like B2B companies do), designing and delivering a great experience is critical. Don’t forget that many expectations for B2B interactions are rooted in personal B2C experiences.

15. ‘A one-size-fits-all approach works for customer experience design’

Every customer is unique, with different preferences, needs and expectations. A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be effective. Instead, companies should strive to personalize and tailor the experience to individual customers as much as possible.

16. ‘Customer experience is just about fixing problems’

I call this one “lipstick on a pig.” While resolving customer issues and complaints at the surface, at that moment, is important, it’s not the only focus. 

You must proactively identify opportunities to deliver a great experience, not just react to problems. When those problems arise or are identified, you must take the time to fix the root cause.

17. ‘Customer experience is too expensive to prioritize’

Investing in improving the customer experience may require upfront resources, but the long-term benefits outweigh the costs. Companies with a superior customer experience outperform competitors in terms of revenue growth, customer retention and profitability. Focusing on communication, responsiveness and empathy can also make many improvements without significant financial investment.

Dig deeper: How AI impacts the customer experience, when it’s done well

18. ‘The work to design and deliver a great customer experience takes too much time’ 

I hear this often: “I don’t have room for more work on my plate.” Guess what? Everything you do at work is about and for the customer. 

This is not about creating more work or adding more to your plate. It’s about doing the things you already do — enhancing the product, changing processes, updating the website, revising policies, hiring new people, etc. — but with a shifted mindset. So, when you make process improvements to enhance the experience, you’re going to be doing things more efficiently and more effectively. It just makes sense. And that means a better employee experience, too. 

19. ‘Employee experience (EX) and CX are unrelated’

Too many folks don’t make that EX > CX connection. If employees don’t have the tools, resources and training to serve their customers, the experience fails. If the policies are outdated or processes are broken, the experience fails for both. The connection is real.

20. ‘CX is only important for retaining existing customers’

Yes, you’ve got to design and deliver a positive experience in order to retain customers, but the experience also has a significant impact on acquiring new customers. Positive word-of-mouth, referrals and online reviews from satisfied customers can attract new business and help companies stand out in a crowded marketplace.

21. ‘The customer experience is static and unchanging’

Customer expectations, preferences and market dynamics are constantly evolving. Your business, products and services are evolving, too. A successful CX strategy requires ongoing monitoring, adaptation and innovation to stay relevant and meet changing customer needs.

22. ‘Customer experience is solely about exceeding expectations’

“We have to delight customers.” “We have to exceed their expectations.” 

While exceeding expectations is often a goal of CX initiatives, consistently meeting expectations is more important. Failing to meet even basic expectations can lead to dissatisfaction and damage the overall customer experience.

23. ‘Customers and their experience detract from our competing priorities’ 

Do you have “competing priorities?” What could possibly compete with the foundation or purpose of your business? What business initiative could executives be considering that doesn’t impact the customer? 

You need to help your executives see how every proposed improvement goes hand in hand with many of the company’s other initiatives/priorities — after all, everything you do is for/about the customer, right? 

24. ‘The ROI of CX can’t be proven’

Isn’t it all about the customer? Everything you do is for and about the customer. Some narrowly view ROI and only focus on revenue generated from CX initiatives and improvements. 

Customer experience is an investment in building long-term relationships with customers rather than just maximizing short-term profits. While it may be more difficult to quantify the ROI of CX initiatives in the short term, the long-term value of satisfied, loyal customers who advocate for your brand can be immeasurable.

Debunking misconceptions for better CX strategies

Why is it important to address these misconceptions? Besides reducing ambiguity and confusion, providing a consistent framework and language for the discipline and a shared understanding of the term helps you make smarter decisions. Clarity is never a bad thing. 

Understanding and addressing these misconceptions will help you develop more informed and effective customer experience strategies that drive meaningful results and competitive advantage. 

Ultimately, it’s all about the customer, so understanding and course-correcting internally on these misconceptions will improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and business performance going forward.


Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Annette Franz
Annette Franz, CCXP, founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., has spent the last 30 years in the customer experience profession. She started her career at J.D. Power and Associates in 1992 and spent much of the next 25 years before founding CX Journey Inc. in 2017 leading consulting services for the major voice of the customer (VOC) platforms, helping clients in a variety of industries develop and execute their customer experience strategies. She has also worked on client-side customer experience strategy for Mattel, Fidelity Investments, and Compellon.

Annette is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, keynote speaker, and author of Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business). In this book, she outlines the importance of customer understanding through listening (feedback and data), characterizing (personas), and empathizing (journey maps) to developing a customer-centric culture. Her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business (Advantage|ForbesBooks), dives into the ten foundational principles of a customer-centric culture. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

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