Lead Where You Stand


By: Rob Sherrell

A Guide for Customer Experience Leaders Surrounded by Skeptics and Cynics

North Highland Insights 

The diagnostic and guiding principles that follow are informed by our in-depth experience in helping hundreds of clients across numerous industries drive customer-centric change. For this paper, we couple that experience with client interviews and three pieces of North Highland research1 that feature the insights of senior-level CX and transformation leaders from around the world:

  • Customer Experience Ways of Working: Survey of more than 300 director-level and above employees
  • Customer Experience Principles: Survey of 215 director-level and above employees reporting a familiarity with their organization’s CX efforts
  • Business Leader Mindset/BEACON: Survey of more than 600 senior-level employees in energy, financial services, healthcare, retail, and media, entertainment, and telecom companies

In Summary

The following is a perspective for CX leaders who feel their organization talks the customer talk, but for a myriad of reasons, doesn’t fully walk the walk.

Our research shows that 49 percent of leaders cite competing strategic priorities as the No. 1 hurdle to prioritizing CX.

Your job is to uncover those barriers—those competing strategic priorities—to be as effective and influential as you can possibly be.

There’s plenty of advice out there for delivering a better customer experience. But you already know what good looks like, and cookie cutter solutions won’t help. What you need is a way to spur CX momentum within your unique set of barriers, circumstances, challenges, and resources, and an approach rooted in an understanding of who you are, and a recognition of the world around you.

The following insights and guides are custom-designed to help you lead where you stand, and start a journey towards customer centricity from wherever you may be.

The concept of CX was introduced in 1998 by Pine and Gilmore in their groundbreaking work, “Welcome to the Experience Economy.”2 Today, 20 years later, it’s the reigning darling of business strategy, and organizations across all industries collectively agree with the mandate: Get customer-centric or die.



1 “Customer Experience Ways of Working”: March 2018 survey of more than 300 director-level and above employees across all industries in organizations with $1 billion/£1 billion revenue per year in the United States or the United Kingdom.

“Customer Experience Principles”: October 2017 survey of 215 director-level and above employees reporting a familiarity with their organization’s CX efforts. Survey respondents represent an even mix of industries in organizations with $1 billion/£1 billion revenue per year in the United States or the United Kingdom.

“Business Leader Mindset/BEACON”: October 2017 survey of more than 600 senior-level employees in energy, financial services, healthcare, retail, and media, entertainment, and telecom at companies with 2016 revenues in excess of $1 billion/£1 billion and operations around the world.

2 Pine, B. Joseph II, and Gilmore, James. “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” Harvard Business Review, July 1998.

3 “2018 Top Challenges for Customer Experience Leaders,” Gartner, January 2018.


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