My Epic Customer Experience Failures – Google Hangout with Ian Golding

This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival celebrating customer experience. It’s part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day 2017. Check out posts from other bloggers at the blog carnival. And learn more about CX Day at

For our celebration of CX day, Ian Golding and I thought that we would not only look at the good side of Customer Experience and celebrate the success and awards but to also acknowledge and celebrate the failures. In this article, I will list what I see as my epic failures and some of them I might not feel that proud of, but the important thing is that I learn from them, they got me where I am today and even looking back, I would still make some of these “mistakes” intentionally.

Catch the hangout here at 2 PM 3 October (GMT+2)  

One – I got the executives addicted to the VOC numbers

In order to convince a bunch of accountants and actuaries, I spent about 8 months building a business case based on VOC. We set some targets and linked the improvements to the voice of the customer and NPS. We did achieve the results, but we also created executive junkies that would for the next three years look at the numbers and in a flash judge the efforts based on the numbers only.

Two –  I was assigned a team – I did not recruit people who wanted to design experiences

My team of experienced designers were fantastic business analysis who took a while to come around. They wanted concrete facts and processes and it took coaching and mentoring to get them attuned to the emotions and innovation and thinking outside the “BA” box. I would not change them for anything in the world, but what I would have liked to have done, is added more diverse roles and people that have not been in financial services for so long as these folks have. I truly believe that by selecting the right people, mixing it up so they don’t see limitations but rather opportunities, we would have fast-tracked some of what we wanted to achieve.

Three – I disguised my role as program manager, but in essence, I was a CXO

Within the constructs of the company, we had to have projects that go through various stages. I managed the Customer Experience transformation efforts for 4 years, reporting to the executive committee but remaining a program manager in the strategy unit. This demanded me to develop relationships and influence beyond my mandated authority. Basically, I had a voice but no teeth. It worked, but as a CXO with more resources and a clear understanding of the objectives of the organisation across the company and a centre of excellence with niche design skills, we could have made a BIGGER difference!

Four – We ran a CX improvement as a project with a finite end

We did awesome work! I was convinced we would continue to do more design work, but the project came to an end and the organisation decided not to create a formal organisational construct to continue to support this work. My influence failed. Now almost 10 years from the start,  I however still see the language used, I see the CX artefacts in the call centre and I know some of it stuck. And now they have a CXO and a team and I wish them all the best to continue our efforts. It’s not that I was defeated, it’s just that the time is not right.

Five – I innovated and launched a new channel and it got closed

We looked at how clients wanted to see their portfolio of holdings across this financial services group and we realised that they would just want the convenience at tax time to request statements from their mobile phone and on an ongoing basis just see the consolidated values of all of their products in one place. We got approval and build this in the record time of 4 months. We were about to launch it, but we could not find someone in the business to own it. So it was dead before we launched it. I failed to get the buy-in before the start of the project and recruit a business owner that would be proud to own this. By the time we pulled it off, everyone was just too risk-averse to own it. Seven years on, such a capability still does not exist on mobile. Maybe the time is right now… to dust off those old designs.

Six – Journey Mapping is not a silver bullet!

I hate doing journey design in isolation! We are great at our craft, I get that, and thanks for the compliment. Our clients, however, continue to see Customer Journey Mapping as the silver bullet that will solve all of their problems. They want to do journey mapping, and only that and expect results. We have crafted various executive masterclasses that focus on education and awareness and showing people what the entire CX transformation journey needs to look like. This has helped but I also see people becoming desperate and being driven by profit and an increase sales  motives that make them reach for the white paper roll to do journey mapping only for the purpose of increasing sales and not looking at the end-to-end journey and the longer term goals of a holistically design experience that meets the brand promise.

In summary

So my advice would be, make the mistakes, feel the shame and move on… And now looking at these 6 secrets that I have been hiding…. I would do some of them over again if it led to better experiences for the customers of the brand. Maybe with the exception of the mobi website, that one really broke my heart. And that is part of being a Customer Experience Professional, having your heart broken over and over again… not your ego, but your heart where you feel for the customers. Personally, I think the CCXP exam should have some test questions on how one recovers from having your heart broken! 🙂

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