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3 Myths that Prevent You from Understanding Customers

I get a lot of “what a cool job!” when I describe what I do. It sounds so glamorous. And everyone is a customer, so of course I hear about the worst customer service they ever had, or less frequently, the very best they’ve experienced.

It is awesome. I love what I do. But as the idea of customer experience takes off, the mythology around it does, too. If you believe them, these myths can make truly understanding customers impossible.

understanding customers

3 of the WORST Customer Experience Myths

Here are a few of the big ones, but there are more! Maybe you know a few?

1. I’ve Been A Customer. I Know What Customers Want!

There is some truth in this. We know we all want ease in doing business with someone. And we know we want to trust where we put our money. We know certain things.

But knowing what our needs and expectations are as a customer could be very different than the customer we’re trying to target.


Look around the next meeting you are in, and ask yourself if these 5 or 10 people really represent the 50,000 customers you have. Most likely, it’s a small sample at best. This means you need to check some of your assumptions at the door and start finding ways to really listen to your customers.

2. Customer Experience Is A Fad.

Nope. It’s been here since the first shop keeper had customers. Customer experience happens whether you pay attention to it or not. It’s not new. It is NOT not the new marketing. And it isn’t the next generation of user experience. It’s not just about digital or the new empowered customer. It’s the entire experience a customer has with your brand, whether you call it a customer journey or not.


Understand that customer experience is part of doing business. We should treat it like a standard part of business planning, like product development or marketing or sales. If your strategy doesn’t include what happens in the customer journey, it’s not a strategy, it’s a sales pitch.

[Tweet “#CustomerExperience is a real discipline that requires real work. Ditch the mythology!”]

3. I Get It. The Rest of My Company Doesn’t.

I have to smile and nod when I hear this one. It’s typically after I speak somewhere, and an earnest customer champion will approach me to whisper this to me in a conspiratorial way. I get it. These change agents are frustrated. They feel as if they are seeing what’s wrong but aren’t seeing any commitment from leadership or others to how to fix it. They feel like their hands are tied into following processes and rules that are clearly not customer friendly.

I challenge this as a myth because I know there are others. I believe there are many of the enlightened ones in most organizations. But if they convince themselves they are the only individual dedicated to a better customer experience, nothing will change.


Start advocating vocally for customers and helping your colleagues understand the challenges customers face with your organization. One person can make a difference.

Leaders need a reality check.

Customer experience is sometimes painted as a mythical land with happy prancing customers who refer all their friends and family. Love begets love and everyone lives happily ever after.

But customer experience is a real discipline that requires real work. This means we need to ditch the mythology and start living in the real world.

What myths have you heard? What myths have you believed?


About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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