Three Misconceptions You’ll Hear at Customer Experience Conferences...and Why They’re Wrong

insights three misconceptions

At a recent customer experience conference, I noticed once again a few commonly repeated assertions confidently presented as truisms in the world of CX. Three of them really struck me for how deceptively misguided they truly are!

Misconception #1

“Journey maps are valuable because they allow us to identify all the existing customer experience touchpoints, then eliminate the unnecessary ones.”

The goal of a journey map is not just to list all touchpoints, then cut some of them... Eliminating touchpoints does not constitute an effective design strategy any more than a good UX strategy focuses solely on the myth that eliminating clicks improves website user experiences.

Journey maps can illustrate current state experiences, as well as future state ideal experiences. They can highlight key pain points, and high value opportunities. When there are “too many touchpoints,” the solution may include automating or offloading some of the need for interaction; however, fewer interactions with your brand or service should not be the endgame - it should be improving the customer’s ability to achieve their goals.

That might mean you eliminate a touch point, or it might imply the need to make existing touchpoints more intuitive or add value where it doesn’t currently exist. It might also necessitate redesigning the experience journey all together!

Misconception #2

“We have a lot of customer data, but we need a robust machine learning platform and several data scientists to make sense of it all.”

You do not need an army of data scientists and the latest AI to provide great customer experience. Similarly, you do not need to map each of your individual customers to a uniquely personalized data-driven journey map in order to define a successful customer experience strategy. Sure, if you do have the computing power, these efforts may help paint a higher resolution picture of your customers, but you can achieve great experiences without that huge data lift. By combining behavioral psychology and human-centered design, you can understand your customers’ behavioral styles, motivational needs, and experience triggers - and build the choose-your-own-adventure style logic to support those needs across all interaction touchpoints - without a multi-million dollar machine learning platform.

The greatest value of new technologies that make data-driven insights and ultra-personalization possible is not in predicting and responding to each individual in a highly unique way, but rather in leveraging behavior patterns and archetypes to educate and empower customers across the range of scenarios they’ll face. To realize that value, you must begin with a human-centered design approach to intelligent content and experience strategy.

Misconception #3

“Customer experience is the reason people pay $5 for a Starbucks coffee vs. $1 for Dunkin Donuts coffee when the product is the same.”

While good customer experience can be a driver for brand loyalty and a major reason people pay extra for “premium” options, a good customer experience built on top of a poorly designed product or service will be wasted. This statement is misleading: the reason people pay $5 for Starbucks coffee is not just because there is a carefully crafted experience associated with the coffee; the product itself tastes good enough that people feel satisfied with the purchase.

Unless your business is built around the production of Veblen Goods (status symbol goods whose desirability increases as a direct result of being higher priced), your first responsibility is still to deliver a quality product, service, or experience that meets your customers’ needs.

UX Hierarchy of Needs

Much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there is a corresponding customer experience hierarchy of needs - and these needs must be met in order of priority to the customer. Much like a person must have physical safety and shelter before they can worry about the richer things in life, a great experience rests on a solid foundation of functional utility. Customers need to have their basic requirements met before other more intangibly delightful aspects of a product or service become meaningful and differentiating - and finding better ways to meet latent or unmet needs can itself be a fruitful focus for innovation.

Only after a product or service is reliably producing the outcomes a customer wants and needs, can companies earn the right to provide higher levels of value around emotional and social customer experience.

Despite these misconceptions…’s great to see more and more organizations embracing the critical role that customer experience plays in the delivery of their products and services. It’s a sign that human-centered, empathy-powered design is coming into its own, and I’m excited to see how innovative companies will move past these misconceptions and continue to empower their customers in new and meaningful ways.

Contributed by
Jen Briselli
Job Title
SVP, Experience Strategy & Service Design