I’m pleased to share that on November 1, 2022, I joined Forrester’s customer experience (CX) team reporting to Rick Parrish. This group is core to creating Forrester’s customer experience service and the CX Leader Success Cycle, which guides how CX leaders improve performance and justify greater investment in customer experience.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten everything I know about marketing organizations, budgets, planning, CMO leadership, or digital marketing best practices. But I did join the CX team to further build Forrester’s curriculum on customer obsession and to find the best ways to connect the marketing and CX functions.

It is a good time, I think, to restate the distinction between customer obsession and customer experience and to comment on why a distinction exists.

  • Customer obsession is an enterprisewide strategy that puts the customer at the center of your leadership, strategy, and operations. Customer-obsessed organizations maximize the value that they provide to customers — for example, by creating better products, services, and experiences. To do this, customer-obsessed businesses rethink all enterprise functions, such as products, production, facilities, competitive approach, maintenance, partnerships, hiring, and training (among others), so that they are customer-led, insights-driven, fast, and connected.
  • Customer experience is customers’ perceptions of their interactions with a brand. It’s one of the key ways that companies provide value to customers. Some companies have customer experience teams that guide CX improvements. The hard work of CX teams, however, is just one piece of the enterprisewide effort necessary to achieve customer obsession and the sustainably better CX — and better products, services, etc. — that comes with it.

An organization can have a good customer experience but not be customer-obsessed … because customer obsession is about more than just a customer’s perceptions of their interactions with a brand.

There’s much more to come on this as I launch my research plan with Rick. Tell me how these definitions land for you. What does customer obsession mean at your firm? Do you call it something specific at your company? What? Who oversees your pivot to customer obsession? Do you have a customer experience function? How do you think customer obsession and customer experience differ and overlap?