The Customer Experience Checklist Manifesto

I was reading a review in Business Week about a book called The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Dr. Atul Gawande. The book talks about how simple checklists can dramatically reduce errors in areas like operating rooms and construction sites. According to the Business Week reviewer, the book is: 

Well worth reading, both for insights into the practice of modern medicine and ideas on how one can transform one’s own life through use of a checklist.

My take: The idea of using checklists in critical areas is simple, yet powerful. It got me thinking about what a customer experience checklist might look like. So I created this checklist of 8 requirements for all projects that touch or impact customers. 

The bottom line: Keep customer experience on track with this checklist.

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.

12 Responses to The Customer Experience Checklist Manifesto

  1. Bruce, simple truths are often the best, yes?

    I would add: There is a discipline across the company to use the ideal, or target experience as a guide for daily decision making.

    In combination with the other things you mention, this ensures sustainable performance payoff for customer experience efforts.

  2. Sue Sweet says:

    Great list, Bruce. Re: #5, having a plan for testing impact on target customers, one thing I’d add is the value of doing that testing as far in advance of launch as possible.

    For one major project I led at a previous employer, we had what we thought was a brilliant idea to make a certain policy change more appealing. We brought the idea to usability, and it went over like a lead balloon, and we learned that the complete opposite approach was preferred by customers. Luckily, we tested this approach with customers early, before we had coded it into the software, so making this change in approach was cheap and easy. If we had waited to gather feedback until post launch, it would have been an expensive disaster.

  3. I also read about this book and was intrigued by the concept (although horrified that he felt it was needed in the operating room).
    As an inveterate list maker to keep me on the straight and narrow, I can appreciate the value of your list to ensure customer-focused project planning and implementation.

    We have launched a Customer-Centricity Audit, a self-assessment tool that allows people to see where their company is on the path to true customer-centricity. It includes 40 questions across six topical areas, such as Corporate Culture, Customer Listening, Service Delivery.

    We see that list of questions serving as a road map at the corporate and functional areas of what still needs to be done. I see your list as tying in very nicely–at the level of specific projects. What I like about your list is that it includes both more strategic items, e.g., #3, as well as practical/tactical items, e.g., #6.

    I’d be interested in your views about our Audit. Did we get it right? Did we leave something out?

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  5. Great list. I’d suggest that #8 should to be expanded or split to include more specific focus on the projects financial impact on or contribution to the company. Then we can be sure we are focussed on the right elements of customer experience – that which is profitable for the company also. #7 – measurement – should also include elements impacting financial performance of the company. Then we should have the CFO on board also.

  6. Barry Dalton says:

    I’m a big fan of check lists. Honestly, from the customer’s perspective, I think this list could be filtered down to two lines, as a strategic list. The rest are tactics IMHO

    1. Your customers and their needs are clearly understood
    2. Clear customer success criteria and company KPIs are established and tracked (a modification of your #8)

    If you know your customers and measure the right things, everything else flows from that.

    Great list. Thanks

  7. Bruce Temkin says:

    Hi everyone: Great comments; thanks for the feedback. Keep the dialogue going and maybe I’ll come out with an updated version of the checklist down the road.

  8. marketing veep says:

    Bruce — I love the PDF so much that it’s now the desktop image on my iMac. How’s that for having the truth stare me straight in the eye? Cheers! And thanks for sharing.

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  10. Leigh Durst says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks! I didn’t want to leave a HUGE comment – so my feedback is here…

    Best – Leigh Durst, Live Path

  11. Bruce Temkin says:

    Marketing Veep: Wow, that’s what I call putting customer experience “in your face.”

    Leigh: Thanks for leaving a link to your post. I’ll keep your additional items in mind when I look at updating the checklist.

  12. Mark Fimio says:

    Hi Bruce, I’ve taken the first step in a new direction in my career, that being, to dedicate my work in helping large companies realize the power and strength of a properly tuned “Internal Branding” machine. Most companies don’t realize their #1 asset is their workforce. They are the front line soldiers sort speak, their brand ambassadors, they have the huge responsibility of delivering on the brand promise. Done properly, with a deliberate strategy in place, this model provides the foundation of consistantly delivering an exceptional customer experience, turning regular customers into advocates of the brand.

    Having honed this passion in the past 6 months and doing a lot of observation, I realized there’s a lot of lip service given by companies to the “customer experience” practise, but few companies know what or how to deliver it. There are even fewer consulting companies to avail this type of specialty consulting.

    I’m so passionate about the win / win of this model that I want to consult as my new work’s mission. How would you adise me to get going. Although I have over 25 years in business I’ve been mostly in account management. My thinking is to get my legs with an established consulting firm that is already working in this area. I’m from Toronto, Canada. There aren’t many consulting firms dealing in this areas as their core business in Canada. Any suggestions?


    Mark Fimio

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