One of the key problems with customer experience is that it’s not an “official” discipline like engineering and accounting. So it lacks a lot of rigor around processes and definitions. That’s why I still get a lot of people asking me questions like: “what exactly is customer experience?


So, here’s my definition of customer experience:

The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization


I’ve previously posted a definition for the perfect customer experience:

A set of interactions that consistently exceeds the needs and expectations of a customer


And I’d define customer experience management (CEM) as:

The discipline of increasing loyalty by exceeding customers’ needs and expectations


There are three key elements to the CEM definition:

  • Discipline. CEM is not about creating slogans like “this is the year of the customer.” It needs to be a set of ongoing activities like a well-established voice of the customer program.
  • Increasing loyalty. CEM is not about an altruistic belief that customers should be treated better. It needs to be linked to more profitable (or strategically improved) long-term behaviors of customers.
  • Customers’ needs and expectations. CEM is not about technology deployments or internal milestones. It needs to be calibrated from the perspective of target customers.

Now that we have some common definitions, it’s time to concentrate on the hard stuff: improving customer experience. And if you’ve been reading my blog, then you know what my recommendation is for that: Chart a path towards Experience-Based Differentiation (the blueprint for customer experience excellence) that conforms with the six laws of customer experience.

The bottom line: CEM is easier to define than to do.

This blog post was originally published by Temkin Group prior to its acquisition by Qualtrics in October 2018.