13 March 2015
Peter Bogaards
Peter Bogaards

Most CX initiatives fail in organizations

The CX pyramid model explains why

Most companies view customer experience as a task (or chore) rather than a mission. They assign a couple of employees to focus on customers while the rest of the company goes about its business focusing on efficiency, acquisitions and margins. As a result, many CX initiatives and activities fail in the long run. The CX Pyramid model explains how to do it better.

According to customer experience professional Augie Ray (a.k.a. @augieray), most of today’s customer experience (CX) initiatives focus on incremental change in existing processes, which limits those programs to solving the least important needs at the bottom of a pyramid of customer needs.

“Today’s innovative companies begin their CX design in a different place, not with customer perception of existing products and services but with an understanding of consumers’ evolving needs and expectations. The most powerful companies today simply rewrite the CX from the top of the pyramid down, leapfrogging established competitors by delivering experiences that are more integrated, robust and powerful.

CX Pyramid2B
Each level in the pyramid represents a greater level of customer need that brands can solve with product and service experiences.

From bottom to top:

Level 1 (Furnish information I can use): The lowest form is to give customers information to solve their own problems.

Level 2 (Solve your problem when I ask): Most customer care nowadays is designed not to satisfy my needs but to solve the company’s issue. To get off the phone or stop customers from complaining on social media as quickly as possible.

Level 3 (Resolve my needs when I ask): To fully satisfy customers’ needs and not just process their requests takes time and care, but it furnishes a more powerful brand experience.

Level 4: (Provide what I need without me asking): Providing experiences that protect customers from harm or help them to exploit opportunities before they ask furnishes brands with strong, trusting and emotional customer bonds.

Level 5 (Provide what I need without me knowing): The future of CX is proactive and serendipitous, which means the brands that will win our trust, loyalty and advocacy will solve problems or harness opportunities we do not even know we have.

Level 6 (Make me better, safer, more powerful): Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this self-actualizing level is more aspiration than reality in most verticals, but there are examples to be found among the world’s most powerful brands.


What’s wrong with Customer Experience Management today is that too many tend to be backward-looking, reactive, tactical, narrow, and self-interested. Companies that make profound leaps forward in CX like Amazon, Apple, or USAA have CX efforts that are forward-looking, proactive, strategic, broad and customer-centric. Their results are not incremental improvements to customer care or existing products but with profoundly different experiences that satisfy a higher order of customer needs.

The future belongs to companies that understand that CX is the most powerful force for building brands in the era of splintering media, diminishing consumer trust, and empowered consumers. In the future, brands will not succeed because they have CX programs. They will succeed when CX is driven from the top, is integral to company culture, guides the behavior and actions of all employees, and services satisfy consumers’ most important needs. Tomorrow’s success stories are today focusing at the top of the pyramid, while the future failures of the world are all anchored to the bottom.”

Source: The CX Pyramid: Why Most Customer Experience Efforts Fail

About the author

Peter Bogaards (a.k.a. @BogieZero) is the editor-in-chief of our blog BiRDS. Peter also works as a curator and coach at Informaat experience design. He has been an online content curator avant-la-lettre in various UX-related fields for almost three decades, choosing what he thinks is interesting, relevant or remarkable to share.

Customer experience (78), CX excellence (8)