Three Reasons Why Customer Experience Programs Fail

Three Reasons Why Customer Experience Programs Fail


  • The success of your CX program depends on your people and organizational culture.
  • CX is not a project, but a cultural and behavior change program.
  • Uniting your organization from C-level to front-line in CX effort is critical.

Imagine a company that defined its customer experience strategy; deployed cutting-edge technology to listen, characterize, and emphasize its customers; and mapped customer journeys. Then, the leadership provided employees with tools to innovate and improve customers’ lives. Finally, the CX governance routinely measured the performance, took timely actions, and activated governance with clear roles and responsibilities.

Yet, somehow, after having spent millions of dollars, the customer experience program has FAILED.

Unfortunately, the above narrative keeps happening around the world. According to Bob Thompson, the founder of CustomerThink Corporation in America, 93% of customer experience initiatives fail to differentiate.

“93% of customer experience initiatives fail to differentiate.”

Having delivered numerous customer experience projects, we identified three reasons why a customer experience program would fail.


There is a triangle in CX: people, technology, and process. Many companies heavily invest in technology to understand customers, get insights in real-time, and put insights into a sophisticated and well-designed dashboard. They then revamp their processes to interact with customers in a leaner and more seamless way.

While doing all that, though, they forget those who will drive the methods and use the technology: The People. Many companies underinvest in their people and culture.

Why does it happen? Establishing a customer-centric culture takes a lot of time and effort. Moreover, the ones who are in charge do not see the short-term ROI impact related to culture. Instead, they think the culture would gradually adjust.

“A CX program without considering and putting the human element in the heart of the organization cannot be successful.”

What can be done? An employee experience component (EX) should be an integral part of the CX program.

It is not enough to train your customer-facing employees or rely on heroes to deliver excellent experiences. Understanding your employees’ routines, priorities, and motivational buttons are all critical.

Furthermore, organizations could implement formal and informal rewards for doing the right thing for the customers while communicating success across the organization. An organization could drive change by embracing its employees, letting them understand the big picture, and making them CX champions.


A customer experience program accumulates endless and consistent activities across the organization. That’s why framing the CX like a temporary project and not having a change management component could jeopardize its success and sustainability.

Why does it happen? CX is a marathon, not a sprint. Ideally every CX should start with a small scope. As organizational awareness increases, the program could be scaled up. Instead, many organizations intend to do everything at once without sizing the needed effort. That eventually causes the collective mindset to slip into “one-time delivery” of initiatives.

“Planning for change is not difficult; simplifying and interpreting the change is.”

What can be done? CX strategy depends on two things: changing the mindset of the organization and collectively adapting to delivering the desired experience.

At the onset, the leadership should communicate the CX vision and mission across the organization, articulating clear expectations from the workforce.

Engaging the hearts and minds of employees is crucial. But to achieve organizational transformation, a cultural-change model like ADKAR or Kotter must be in place. In that scenario, people could become champions, promoting the right customer-centric behavior, not only once, but always. Only then can an organization sustain its CX efforts.


The late Steve Jobs once said, “Customers don’t measure you on how hard you tried; they measure you on what you deliver.” The lack of cross-functional collaboration leads to wasted resources while working in silos reduces the effectiveness and consistency in delivering one common customer experience.

Why does it happen? Nothing cripples a unified vision like the lack of cross-departmental accountability and misaligned leadership. The silo-based mindset grows when business units operate separately, collecting customer feedback, measuring, and interpreting experience.

What can be done? Every CX effort should start with alignment from the top of the organization. The leadership should not only verbally commit, but also take actions towards unifying their teams.

The CX governance needs to take necessary actions towards building one unified experience. Furthermore, the CX team could facilitate collaborative activities such as journey mapping, solicited feedback design sessions, innovation labs, sharing customer success stories, customer persona development, and customer war room sessions. Lastly, customer growth and departmental collaboration KPIs should be in place.

“The CX generates economic top and bottom-line growth only when you do right.”

We have helped public and private organizations design and implement in numerous customer experience programs. These range from strategy definition to integrating experience management and uplifting internal capabilities to elevate and sustain.

Ismail Ozenc
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