Customer Experience Leaders Make A Difference

Gartner and 1to1 Media recently announced their 2010 CRM Excellence Awards. The two winners for customer experience were Sprint and CIGNA — congratulations to both organizations!

My take: These winners are not a surprise. I highlighted Sprint as one of the companies that had improved the most in Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index. Both firms are on very aggressive customer experience journeys being led by two of the strongest customer experience executives in the industry — Jerry Adriano (Sprint) and Ingrid Lindberg (CIGNA).

Customer experience transformation isn’t easy; it takes a lot more than a few superficial changes. As I’ve highlighted in recent research, companies that want to build customer experience differentiation need to master 4 competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness. That’s why these efforts require strong leaders like Adriano and Lindberg.

To understand the impact of leadership, I took another look at the data from our May 2010 survey of large North American companies. For this analysis, I compared the companies that had a senior executive in charge of customer experience for at east 6 months with all of the other firms in the survey. Here are the major obstacles identified by each group:

What jumps out from this data is that companies without a senior executive in charge of customer experience suffer from a lack a clear strategy. There’s a 32 percentage point gap between the two groups in that area.

Here are some of other things that I found interesting:

  • All companies suffer from competing priorities
  • Companies without customer experience leaders are 10+ percentage points more likely to run into several problems associated with starting their journey:
    • Lack of a clear strategy
    • Lack of incentives and rewards
    • Wrong people or organizations leading the effort
    • Lack of important skills
  • Companies with customer experience leaders run into more problems as they start to make changes:
    • Limited funding
    • Conflict across organizations

The bottom line: Customer experience takes leadership

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.

3 Responses to Customer Experience Leaders Make A Difference

  1. Ingrid Lindberg says:


    Thanks for the kind words! I have to say – it was awesome to hear Sprint’s story last week at Gartner and 1-1 Media. Always inspiring to see other companies really stepping up and changing the game! I’m also delighted to share that the reason we’ve had such success over here is definitely because I have such an amazing team that works with me every day – pushing and stretching the organization to think about things differently. Congrats to Sprint and to all the other applicants – it is great to see so many companies being committed to doing what is right for their customers!

  2. Colin Shaw says:


    Certainly our practical experience of working with Senior people in organisation would agree with your findings. The senior team need to ‘get it’ and then put a strategy in place, that is executed. Over the years of doing these implementations it’s not just about having CE leaders. It’s about having CE leaders who have power to change things. Too many companies allocate a CE leader and then give them no power. All that then happens is they get the blame for everything that goes wrong.


    Colin Shaw
    Author & Founder Beyond Philosophy

  3. yann says:


    Very amazing article that highlights one of the most common problems we have to face : when a company has a CE leader, conflicts break out everywhere.

    Many CEO/ boards are unprepared to that “strange” consequence.
    In many cases, they decided to hire a CE with the unsaid purpose to reduce the conflicts around customer care.

    French sociologist B Dupuy has well described this phenomenon since the 80s.
    If the head of a company is not prepared to face it, or to back the CE leader, it could even be crazy to undertake the role.

    Thank you for your post !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: