Experience-based Operational Excellence


The Customer Experience

Experience means many things.  An experience is a direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge.  In other words, the customer experiences something through observation or participation.  Experience also relates to a customer as the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation.  In other words, the customer has experienced things with the company that they base opinion on.  Also, experience is related to an individual based on their practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity.  Customers all have different experiences that make up their background.  Individual experience is often related in the terms of degrees, certifications, and/or years of involvement in a particular thing.

In a nutshell, customer experience (CX) is something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through by a customer with a certain company.  It is the product of an interaction between a company and a customer over the duration of their relationship.  This interaction includes their attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, and purchase and use of a service.

CX is simply the result of everything that makes up the company’s product or service delivery, visible or not.

Problems with Customer Experience Today

Many companies today only focus on the ‘touchpoints’–the critical moments when customers interact with the company and its offerings to establish the customer experience.  This is often depicted in marketing as an experience map.  Often, this is a narrow focus on what is important to the customer’s satisfaction at specific moments and often creates a distorted picture of the overall experience.  This can lead a company to believe customers are happier with the company’s products and services than they actually are.  This approach also diverts attention from the bigger and more important picture–the customer’s end-to-end journey.[i]

An emphasis on Operational Excellence within an company as the driver of the CX is important to carefully consider.

Experience-based Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence (OpX), as an official business concept, has not been around very long and is often misconstrued.  The best way to look at OpX is to think of it as an end-to-end enterprise-wide management practice that aligns everything in the organization toward driving excellence.[ii]  From a perspective of the CX, OpX essentially represents an organization’s focus on all things that affect the customer’s experience (see Figure 1).

 X-Based OpX

Figure 1: Experience-based Operational Excellence

     Normally, companies view CX as a result of the product itself.  Some broaden the view into the processes that impact the product delivery and many companies see OpX as nothing more than the application of process management and Lean Six Sigma improvement processes.[iii]  In reality, true OpX represents the end-to-end enterprise-wise business management.  The ‘experience’ is at the very center of where the product, process, and employee intersect–this is what the customer sees and feels.  The entire experience is influenced by high-level company strategies, internal and external communication, and employee development.  Everything within the company is supported by an innovative layer that includes technology and information.

Thus, everything in the organization is important in the CX equation and focusing simply on touchpoints will represent a lack of true focus on the CX.  From a company’s perspective, there are several representative performance metrics that are important to the overall CX.  A company cannot simply look at metrics like sales and net promoter score, but must consider all company performance as critical to the CX.  There are many things that measure the experience, but can generally be referred to as satisfaction, sentiment, and relationship.


In summary, the traditional view of CX as a stand-alone activity represents a shortsighted view of what is important to the customer.  Although much of what makes up OpX is out of the customer’s view, it all leads to the CX and must be considered and aligned.

[i] Rawson, A., Duncan, E., & Jones, C. (2013). The Truth About Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review.

[ii] Boothe, W., & Lindborg, S. (2014). Handbook to achieve operational excellence: A realistic guide including all tools needed. Ft Myers FL: Reliabilityweb.com.

[iii] Crabtree, R. (2010). Driving operational excellence: Successful lean six sigma secrets to improve the bottom line. Livonia MI: MetaOps Publishing.


With all this information, why are we so out of touch?

I stopped watching television several years ago. I have several TVs in the house, but they are mainly used to watch movies or key sporting events. Television for me became a distraction that pulled me away from work, school, and my hobbies, so I simply cut it out.

Because of this, I don’t watch the news, which I never really enjoyed anyway.

My folks; however, have the television on all the time. Last year, when we moved into our new house and my folks sold their house and moved here, they lived with us for a few weeks as their house was closing and their belongings were being delivered. That had to be the longest few weeks for my dad, because we didn’t even hook up our satellite for a month after moving in.

Needless, he watches the news all the time.

We both get the Boerne Star newspaper…my parents read theirs front to back and I make nice stacks with mine that eventually are used to start fires in the fireplaces. Even then, the Star really isn’t a very worldly news source.

So, my news comes mainly from the Internet…through social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) and news sites (primarily Yahoo News). I’m looking for a more complete and effective news app for my phone and iPad, but I’m not totally disconnected.

As you can see, the information I get and what my parents get is from totally different streams.

Last night, I went to dinner with my parents and I was talking all about this Nevada Cattle Ranch issue and how I see it blowing up and becoming a major national issue. What surprised me was that my parents had heard very little about it…and I do mean very little. We started discussing news that I knew versus news that they knew (the news we knew) and it became very apparent that what national media and social media were saying were two entirely different messages.

Now, I clearly feel that my folks watch too much Fox News and television as a whole. But, I also feel that I get information overload from my news sources as well and try to limit my time surfing for current events and news. The thing is, we could easily be overloaded with information if we let it. However, are we really getting enough information even when we’re overloaded with it? Is it the right information?

I don’t get political on my blogs–I leave that for Facebook (smile). However, I know I need to do a better job of making sure that I get a fuller picture of what is going on in the world. This Nevada Cattle Ranch issue, if you are not aware, has the potential to become a defining moment in our history as a nation. It has the potential of proving out the second amendment of the Constitution and of throwing the United States into total chaos.

This single issue isn’t the reason…it’s just the opportunity to demonstrate that Americans–at least 50% of them–are fed up with our government today. From the current Administration, to our Congressional “leadership,” to government organizations like IRS, Health and Human Services (responsible for the failed Affordable Care Act program failures), Bureau of Land Management (what this current powder keg is about), and the EPA. The scene is being played out in Nevada and has the potential of coalescing at least half the nation into a militia frenzy.

So, I ask you…are you aware of what’s going on in the country and world today? If you saw on the news tonight that 200 armed Federal Agents killed hundreds of equally armed Americas in Nevada over cattle, turtles, and solar power, would you know the whole story?

If this would be the first you’ve heard about it, then, like me, you should probably consider your news sources and ask yourself if you are getting enough information and if that information you are getting covers everything?

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