As a Customer Experience leader, it’s easy to feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill trying to align your organisation around the customer.

The reasons are many. CX is still a relatively young field. It’s broad and spans business units and customer touch points. The CX landscape is also rapidly evolving to keep up with even faster changes in customer behaviour.

This makes it difficult to understand what’s most important to your customers, let alone to implement changes that will improve their experience with your brand, earn their trust, and build loyalty. And measuring those changes? It’s a moving target. What we measure, how we measure it, and then how we use that data varies on a monthly basis.

The key is to simplify. Reframe your approach. Broaden your perspective. Think like a customer. You can start by looking at any experience a customer has with your brand through two focal points: friction and desire.


Friction sours the Customer Experience. It’s queuing at the supermarket, waiting for your package to arrive, or slogging through a long list of “press 1 for…” prompts before you finally speak to an actual person on the phone.

Friction is what businesses are focused on in terms of CX. It’s also relatively easy to measure. If you can figure out how to cut call centre wait times by 50 percent, that’s a measureable and tangible result of an improved Customer Experience.

As CX professionals, we are judged on our ability to measure the change we are creating, we need to show quickly that we are making a difference – most visibly, through greater efficiency, higher Net Promoter Scores, and a stronger bottom line.


Desire in this case is the strength of your relationship with your customers. It’s the sense of contentment you get when your bartender remembers your favourite drink, or breathing a sigh of relief when the pharmacist immediately understands the urgency of getting your prescription renewed.

Ultimately, desire is a feeling, and by definition that makes it really hard to measure – or even define. It means different things for different brands and different customers.

Reducing friction is important to improving what’s broken with the Customer Experience, but desire is what drives real loyalty and creates lasting differentiation in the minds of customers.

Focusing on both desire and friction is what will move the needle on your customer satisfaction surveys, NPS, or customer retention numbers, and that happens when a customer consistently has their needs met by a company and is spoken to in a language that resonates. In short, it’s when businesses act a lot more human.

Desire is more elusive than friction; it’s harder to understand and measure. You have to dig deep into the emotional insights that only customers, not data, can provide through the ‘please elaborate a bit further’ qualitative stuff. It’s not so much a question of, ‘what will you do for my company?’ but rather, ‘what does your company do for me?’.

What if there was a way to measure customer desire and offer a roadmap on how a brand can create it? Our annual CQ – or Customer Quotient – report is designed to illuminate which companies successfully increase desire and, critically, why.

Analysing three years’ worth of data and research with more than 65,000 consumers in the US and UK, this year’s research identifies specific behaviours that describe what it looks like when companies act more human, and these behaviours correlate with positive financial performance.

So, if we are able to measure how desirable your CX is, what does that look like? One standout example is LUSH Cosmetics. A top CQ performer in the UK this year, LUSH offers a near-frictionless Customer Experience and fulfils customers’ desires in ways that other brands don’t.

For example, LUSH supports grassroots charities and supplies ethical, sustainable beauty products. The company builds trust in the most unconventional way: by taking political stances on what other brands would deem as risky.

For example, by proclaiming that they are anti-hunting and anti-fracking, they create desire with their customers through sharing their value out of a wish to make the world a more ethical and environmentally friendly place. It’s a strategy that has paid off for the brand, and a testament to how well LUSH understands its customers and shares their values.

The companies that are succeeding are focusing on developing meaningful relationships with and emotional connections to their customers. They give customers a reason to trust them and to keep coming back.

So, slow down when collecting data on consumers and start collaborating and co-creating with them to design the experiences they want to have. Empathise with their lives, and build an appreciation for their creativity and instincts. Then, tell the whole company about it.

Mix the qualitative and the quantitative – the art and the science – to tell their stories and share them across the business. Building customers into the way you work is the best way to increase desire.

As you are planning your CX programs for 2018, take a step back and ask yourself: what are you measuring? A Customer Experience that will create mutual value for your customers, and ultimately lead to growth for your business, must include desire.

Focusing solely on friction might lead to incremental improvement, but it doesn’t secure long term loyalty.

Authors: Sam Rothkopf & Amadeus Redha

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