Introducing The 6 Laws Of Customer Experience

Just like the three laws that govern all of physics, there are a set of fundamental truths about how customer experience operates. And here they are, the 6 laws of customer experience:

  1. Every interaction creates a personal reaction.
  2. People are instinctively self-centered.
  3. Customer familiarity breeds alignment.
  4. Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers.
  5. Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated.
  6. You can’t fake it.

Jack Welch has said: “Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be.” When it comes to customer experience, these 6 laws describe how it is.

While some isolated situations may not follow these 6 laws, they accurately describe the dynamics of customer experience for large organizations. Anyone looking to improve customer experience must understand and comply with these underlying realities. And in case you’re wondering, Experience-Based Differentiation is 100% compliant!

I’ll take a closer look at each of these laws in later posts. For now, just get acquainted with them.

The bottom line: When it comes to the 6 laws of customer experience, ignorance is not a valid defense.

Addendum: Download the free book: “The 6 Laws Of Customer Experience: The Fundamental Truths That Define How Organizations Treat Customers.”

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about these topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

16 Responses to Introducing The 6 Laws Of Customer Experience

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  3. Carlo Fei says:

    Interesting approach to C.E.. That’s a very important tool. The old style HR cohercive approach needs a new (really) involving and motivational approach.

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  5. Hello Bruce –
    This is fine work. My net advocacy score for this content is +5 and I’ll certainly tell others to check it out.
    One nit-pick, however. I think you are writing here about customer service, not customer experience as a whole.
    Customer experience (I sometimes prefer “shopper experience”) is a broader ecology that encompasses merchandising, convenience, price, ambiance as well as service. Each of these pillars, as your 6 Laws imply, may be further decomposed into elements. Each element is a message to customers about the firm’s loyal commitment to serving them well.
    None of this detracts from the value you present here – it merely places your work within a conceptual framework I find helpful. I invite your correspondence any time.

  6. Bruce Temkin says:

    Hi James: I actually was writing about the entire customer experience. Having said that, I probably do have a bias towards service experiences. I always try to think about the “moments of truth” and many of them are service-oriented. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. M. Sullivan says:

    Hi Bruce,

    I agree and use a simliar approach to guide my decisions within my organization. It can be an organizational challenge when teams of expert engineers that are extremely savy & deep in technical knowledge begin to create customer facing materials and sometimes campaigns that directly touch the customer. The end results is technically brilliant information that a sr. level executive or business decision maker would not be interested in reading.

  8. Bruce Temkin says:

    Hi “M:” That’s a common issue (I’m not sure if that’s comforting information for you). The law that “people are instinctively self-centered” means that engineers are going to be biased towards generating materials that are overly complicated for many mainstream users. And it’s not that the engineers are being “bad,” they are just acting on their natural instincts. Good luck in helping the engineers to be a little more self-aware of these biases.

  9. Bruce,

    I think the world of “customer” experience is in the process of change with the advent of direct access to online information without necessarily having to go through a live person. That means that self-services can be exploited for the benefit of the customer and suggests another “Law.”

    “Customers will prefer to do as many things as possible privately by themselves, 24×7, without relying on the availability of a stranger (who may also be biased).”

    That actually supports your first two laws. In addition, the information gained from any self-service activity prior to accessing live assistance will contribute significantly to your third law.

    Online shopping, community, transactions, and self-service customer care, will all be powerful alternatives to traditional live customer assistance. Of course, making the user interfaces easy to use will be a key “customer experience” factor.

    The convenience of having personalized information and self-service access, coupled with wireless mobility and the flexibility of unified communications, will really change the way customer experience metrics will evolve in the future.

    So, while I don’t disagree with your “6 Laws” for live customer contacts, I don’t think that they cover everything that is really evolving in the virtual world of the Web and mobility.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Hi Art: I agree with you that there will be a lot more self-service interactions in the future. But, alas, I don’t see human interactions disappearing any time soon. Most companies will need to learn how to enable many types of self-service activities (whether it’s directly with the company or not) AND be good with the human side of interactions. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  12. ldweiner says:

    Excellent points and great approach overall. It would be interesting to see this customized for IT helpdesks in organizations inside mid to large enterprises. These points are all extremely relevant to that audience. The IT helpdesk is the “face” of IT for an enteprise and these points may go a long way in improving not only the effectiveness of the IT helpdesk, but in turn the perception of the helpdesk.

  13. Julie Smolin says:

    Hi, Bruce. I want to agree wholeheartedly with your 4th law and tweak your 5th law a bit. I do this because I believe that if the employees are not motivated in their jobs, there will not be a positive customer experience, even if you give your product away.

    “#5 Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated.”

    Measured? Yes, but why? Are those functions performed because they are vital to the job and the customer experience or just because they are measured? (Logical next inquiry in the formula would be to what purpose those measurements are made and their contributions to the overall customer experience, let alone the actual and true mission of the organization.) If they are superfluous measures, that will be sensed and they will most likely not only not motivate but eventually become the source of (even unintentional) sabotage of the system. This problem may be one of discrete (read: nitpicking) measures versus measurement of logical work modules – a much more dynamic and effective way to assess ultimate goal oriented behavior.

    Incentives? Just as with measurements, certain incentives can be manipulative tools with short-term gains and little true motivating effect. If incentives are built into the fabric of the organization and each worker’s job, and are natural consequences of of the work performed, then there is a long-term synergistic effect.

    Celebrated. I believe that recognition is an extremely strong motivator. As per Law #2, we are self-centered creatures, and therefore crave the heady feeling of having done a job well and have had it recognized as such by our peers, our customers and our competitors. But the best motivator here is our own celebration of ourselves.

    What all of this boils down to for me is that we all are only truly and sustainably motivated by the actual work itself and by a psychologically supportive culture in which to perform that work.

    I’m anxious to see your further posts with more detail on the 6 laws. Thanks for letting me put in my 10 cents.

  14. Pingback: 4 liens rapides pour la semaine (2010-49) « La BI ça vous gagne!

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