Want to Deliver Good CX? Start By Looking at Bad CX.

In 2014, Gartner released a survey saying that 89 percent of businesses would compete on the customer experience by 2016. With 2020 just around the corner, it stands to reason that now close to 100 percent of businesses are competing on customer experience.

But here’s the thing—if every company is differentiating on customer experience, where can companies go above and beyond to stand out? Offerings that once stood out are now standard. Every customer expects short hold times and snacks on a plane. Consumers can get the same experience from nearly any brand in a given industry.

Take the telecom industry. Every company is competing on making their good customer experiences slightly better—a faster network, a newer phone, and so on. But customers can get those devices and connections from virtually every operator. Making an incremental improvement will only net incremental gains.

To deliver standout CX, companies need to shift their focus from making good experiences marginally better, and start making the worst experiences the best.


The Biggest Problems are the Biggest Opportunities

Think of the companies that consumers highlight as having the best customer experiences: Amazon, Southwest Airlines, or Apple. They could have simply done what their competitors were doing when entering the market (see table). Instead, they figured out where customer experiences were going wrong and figured out how to make them go right.



And yes, these companies could have delivered packages a day faster or halved the change fees. But by removing the problem altogether for customers, they’ve created loyal customers who will fly and buy with them for the long run.

And they didn’t stumble across these insights by accident. Apple looked at the market and realized that existing MP3 players were bulky and hours-long downloads kept music out of reach. Amazon saw that customers paid for shipping and still waited a week for packages to show up. And Southwest realized that customers felt treated unfairly by change fees and decided not to charge them.


From Bad to Best

The lessons learned from these companies can be applied to any industry. Customers might not always know how to make things right, but they can point out when things go wrong. It’s up to companies to find an innovative solution.

Returning to the telecom example from earlier, operators have an opportunity to tackle customer pain points head on and make bad experiences the best experiences. According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index report on wireless service providers, customers are least satisfied with mobile network operators’ call centers, data upload and download speeds and speed of store/service center transactions.

One of the common problems in call centers is being escalated to an agent when the IVR can’t solve a customer’s problem. Operators could address this pain point by adding more options to the IVR. Or they could shift how they look at the experience. Instead of adding more options, why not train an IVR to respond to any spoken input? Conversational artificial intelligence requires less development on the backend, and delivers a better experience for customers.

And let’s look at the speed of service center transactions. Again, the traditional way of thinking would be to add more staff to the service center. But what if operators added a payment kiosk to their store, so customers who previously waited in line to pay could instead be in and out in minutes? In-store employees can focus on upselling customers, and customers who want to make a payment can self-serve.

But employing technology to solve customer problems is only half the solution—operators also need buy-in from employees. Employees have firsthand insight into the problems customers are having, like half-day appointment windows for installation. Employees can surface that pain point, and that insight can be used to deliver a solution to the problem (i.e. 2-hour appointment windows). By shifting their CX paradigms to solving problems, employees and leadership in any company can identify and make improvements that their customers care about.

That’s not to say that companies shouldn’t always strive to make good experiences better. They should always be optimizing and iterating on what’s working well. But for the customer and the company, the biggest CX impact will come from making the worst experiences the best they can be.