If you aim to lead your company’s customer experience, forget about the ideal world and instead focus on discussing the measures, advises Matti Lehto, Head of Strategy at Kuudes.

Customer experience. The term you use as a hashtag in a disgruntled tweet when your train is late, the queue is too long, your parcel is in the wrong mailbox, or the store has run out of your favourite morning cereal. And it’s no wonder; studies have confirmed that we tend to remember bad experiences over the good ones.

The challenge, however, lies not in our overemphasis on bad memories, but rather in the tendency to keep rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The focus of CX development is scattered. We require less discussion on individual interactions and more debate on leading the customer experience – how to consistently and repeatedly create desired experiences.

Every essay on customer experience must reiterate the same truth – so here it is: CX comprises every touchpoint between the customer and the brand.

Still, leading the customer experience has become a tough nut to crack. It’s simultaneously something so familiar and mundane yet vague and shapeless. That’s why it’s easy to fall into common pitfalls. Here are three of them

#1 You settle for fixing the problems

You can categorize customer experience into three levels. First, there’s the foundation, encompassing the essential elements that must be in place. Failing here means losing the game, leading to frustrated tweets and water cooler discussions. However, merely fixing these issues won’t benefit your business in the long run – customers barely notice any improvements at this level.

Moving to the next level, you’ll find the unique factors that the brand is known for, the things customers love. Unlike at the foundational level, here you’ll encounter truly experiential matters. The tip of the iceberg is the vision of the desired CX, something you can base your innovation and development work on.

Development work is necessary at all levels. However, too often, companies focus solely on addressing foundational level questions in their quest to reach the vision. These are questions that should be solvable with basic common sense. Few people return to an amusement park because the restrooms were so clean and lovely – but filthy ones may deter visitors altogether.

#2: You chase the prefect experience

Even the vision has its pitfalls. It’s exhilarating to define customer experience targets and paint a picture where everything is flawlessly seamless, overwhelmingly exciting, easy, fluid, automatic, and magical.

At the same time, employees recognize a company where information doesn’t flow, a plethora of systems makes it tricky to serve customers, and there is a shortage of staff. Superlatives uttered by the C-level might be exciting in themselves, but the gap between the current state and the goal feels overwhelming.

Although Simon Sinek has inspired all leaders and consultants to ask “why,” the customer experience calls for more discussion about “how.” Only after that do employees begin to see the change and believe in it.

A smart approach is to create steps for the targets: where will we be in a year or two to become the best in business? Like eating an elephant, improving the customer experience requires taking small, manageable steps.

#3: You promise something you can’t redeem

Does this scenario sound familiar? The company unveils a rebranding: a new logo on the storefront, a touch of playfulness in the tone-of-voice, billboards praising the updated mission.

But under the hood, the engine still rumbles as it used to. The net impact can even be negative when the gap between the desired reputation and the reality is wider than ever. Customers become frustrated when the brand speaks louder about itself rather than addressing what’s truly important.

That’s why brand and CX must go hand in hand, and brand development can’t be left solely to the marketing department. When there’s a surface touch-up, there must also be something happening under the hood.