CX5 Talks - An Interview with Adrian Swinscoe

I recently chatted with Adrian Swinscoe to discuss the CX myths, the role of technology for customers and agents and the meaning of customer-centric.

Adrian Swinscoe is a best-selling author, Forbes contributor, speaker, advisor and aspirant CX Punk. He has been growing and helping develop customer-focused large and small businesses for over 25 years now.

Question 1

Jarrod: Where do you see technology improving CX today and importantly, where do you see it actually hurting? Is it different on the agent or customer side?

Adrian: If technology helps a customer or employee do something quicker and more easily then it’s probably helping. That assumes, however, that customers and employees want to use that particular technology.

But, if the technology is introduced just to save cost or deflect calls on the customer side, for example, and it forces them to do or use something that they would not ordinarily do then there is a danger that it will hurt the customer’s experience.

The same is true for technology that is implemented to help employees do their jobs better and more easily. There is research by PwC that shows that while leaders say that they choose technology with their people in mind a large majority of their employees don’t agree and that is a problem. Particularly, when the same research shows that 73% of employees say they know of systems that would help them produce higher quality work but many executives and leaders are not tapping into the collective intelligence of their employees.

Question 2

Jarrod: How important are desktop tools and software for agents and how does that translate into overall customer experience?

Adrian: I truly believe that great customer experience is a function of or directly impacted by the employee and the broader worker/partner experience i.e. CX = f(EX + WX). The tools that agents are equipped with therefore will have a huge impact on the employee experience and, in turn, the customer’s experience. So, if the tools and software deployed for agents don’t help them deliver better service and a better experience for customers then they are not doing their jobs and should be replaced with tools that will.

Question 3

Jarrod: With CX being new relatively speaking, there's a lot of talk about what companies should be doing. But I wonder, what CX myths out there do you see now? What have you seen the last few years that actually isn't a good idea or hasn't worked out?

Adrian: Two of the biggest things that frustrate me are:

  1. Customer experience is often dominated by talk of metrics and scores. It’s not about that. It’s about a customer’s experience. Metrics and scores are only a proxy or measure, and often not a great proxy or measure, of how we are doing helping our customers have a good experience. They are not an end in themselves.
  2. The development of new technology and the idea of omnichannel experience has led to a proliferation of channels being adopted by many organizations. Now, while the word ‘omni’ means ‘all’ it does not and should not mean all of the available channels. Rather it should mean all of the channels that are relevant for the delivery of your strategy. Look at many, if not all, of the companies that we hold up as experience leaders and they tend to have focused on being great at a few channels rather than average at a lot.

Question 4

Jarrod: There's a lot of talk about being customer-centric but honestly, that's pretty vague and hard to measure. Especially in big organizations, that means it likely won't succeed. Can you give us some specific things a large business can measure to see where they stand?

Adrian: Many organisations talk outside in, they talk customer centricity. But, the reality is that if you look at their systems and how they organise their businesses they are not designed outside in.

So, here’s a couple of questions that companies could use to get an idea of where they stand:

  1. Are your systems designed from the outside in?
  2. Have you created a customer typology of demand? Or, are you using an organisational typology of what you do with customer demand?

Question 5

Jarrod: Last question and we'll try to make it a tough one. Some people wish that CX would be a C-level KPI. But for that to be true, there'd have to be an agreed upon method of measuring it. Do you think CX should be a C-level KPI and what data should go into measuring it?

Adrian: Personally, I think we need to be careful about reducing ‘CX’ to a KPI. It’s way more than that. 

Moreover, if companies are thinking that they need to create a C-level KPI then I would argue that it’s probably not connected to their overall business strategy and they don’t understand how their experience initiatives are enabling them or helping them achieve their business goals.

I think we need more clarity on what we are measuring and why rather than more metrics or KPIs.


Adrian Swinscoe is a best-selling author, Forbes contributor, speaker, advisor and aspirant CX Punk.  He has been growing and helping develop customer-focused large and small businesses for over 25 years now.  He published a best selling book in 2016 called How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing (Pearson) and recently published an exciting new book: Punk CX

Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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