Blog post

Ten Maxims of Customer Experience

By Augie Ray | January 24, 2017 | 3 Comments

MarketingCustomer Experience

Ten simple truths about customer experience (with links to relevant blog posts and subscription research reports from me and my peers on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders team):

Whether or not you plan for it, your brand provides a customer experience to your customers.
Customers collect experiences throughout their journeys with your brand, regardless of your effort, investment or intent to deliver cohesive and satisfying experiences.

People base decisions based on what they experience and hear about your brand.
Every experience you provide to customers can encourage or discourage satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Your brand is what people feel and say it is, not what your brand believes or says it is.
Your brand is owned by the customer, not you. It is created and fashioned in the mind of your customers and prospects. You are what they think you are or what they hear from others.

What your brand does is more important than what it says.
Your brand will be ultimately be evaluated by its customers on what it does for them, not what it says in its ads, emails or on its website.

Brands that cannot retain customers cannot win. 
Acquiring customers is costly and challenging; retaining and growing loyal customers is the key to business success and profitability.

Brands that cannot motivate their customers to share positive sentiment diminish the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. 
People trust each other more than they do brands, and word of mouth is a powerful force for improving awareness and consideration. Inbound traffic, conversions, and sales are enhanced when marketers build their efforts upon solid customer advocacy.

Your brand can’t be all things to all people.
Customers have different needs, expectations, and values. The better your brand can understand and reflect these, through focus, segments, personas, and personalization, the more powerful the experiences it can deliver.

You must listen to your customers to understand them.
Marketers spent a lot of time and money studying what gets people to buy but too often ignore what gets them to be satisfied, loyal and willing to tell others. Voice of Customer programs are essential to define and measure customer experience performance.

Differentiated brands are created by differentiated experiences. 
Finding and solving problems that reduce satisfaction are table stakes for brands. Brands that build strong affinity, or love, don’t just retroactively solve problems–they proactively deliver meaningful experiences that distinguish the brand from competitors.

You cannot change what the organization, teams or employees do unless you change how they are measured and rewarded.
People often complain about organizational silos, but the real problem is the recognition systems that encourage competition for resources rather than collaboration between parts of the organization. Moreover, brands cannot build sustainable long-term results only by measuring and rewarding short-term outcomes. Change goals and compensation, and you change culture, strategies, and performance.

Did I list any maxims with which you disagree? Any missing? Please let me know.

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  • These are all very true Augie – one I’d add is that customers want to have an ongoing dialogue with your brand. This means moving away from a transactional, channel-based approach to having a conversation with them to build insight and loyalty. More on this in our blog post

    • Augie Ray says:

      Thanks for the comment and link, Pauline.

      I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that “customers want to have an ongoing dialogue with your brand.” Most consumers DON’T want to have a dialog. What they want (and your blog post points out) is for brands to be responsive to their needs. I think that is different than “having a dialog.”

      Most people have something like 750 brands in their lives, from what’s in their refrigerator to their bathroom cabinets to their closets to their devices. No one wants a “dialog” with every brand in their life–they just want brands to perform as (or better than) anticipated and to be responsive when there are issues. Some brands, like entertainment, sports, and beauty brands, have the luxury of dialog opportunities with consumers, but many brands do not.

      Would you agree?

  • Hi Augie,

    Thanks for your feedback. I completely agree that consumers want brands first and foremost to be responsive to their needs. When talking about dialog what we mean is that brands need the ability to have a personalized, seamless, fast and ongoing conversation with their customers, whatever the channel, built on understanding their needs. It could be simply providing a fast, accurate response to a query or be much more involved, dependent on the circumstances. Does that clarify things?