Skip to content

The 2 Golden Keys of CX to Make Meaningful Change

Designing a consumer experience with these keys will save you time and build the best experience for your customer.

By Matt Mueller


Understanding the consumer experience and how it relates to your business can be challenging. I recently worked with a bakery that had a challenge with sales slumping over the past couple of years. They tried lots of different programs to fix the bakery’s woes. And they even spoke to a lot of their customers using surveys to figure out what they were looking for in a bakery experience.

Ancient book with golden keys to unlock innovation

Survey results revealed lifestyle changes are the cause of the sales slumps ​

The bakery learned that there were two things that were important to their customers. They needed to have healthy options for consumers to choose since people’s eating habits are changing. The rise of Atkins to the evolution of Keto baked breads have made chocolate chip cookies out of style. The bakery was dead certain that these consumer lifestyles had a direct influence on their business.  

Secondarily, the survey revealed that sanitation was important to their customers. They wanted to shop in a clean environment so they can feel confident that the products they bring home to their family are safe. What was really interesting was the conversations internally in the organization, was a news story from over twenty years ago, about a child who ate a cake from a bakery and died from food poisoning; not their bakery. They had training videos dedicated to this story to caution employees of the danger of improper food handling and the importance of food safety. 


As a result of the bakery’s survey and their internal bias of food handling the bakery was clean, immaculate even, stores. Somewhat reminiscent of a hospital cafeteria, sterile, with a selection of prepackaged goods brought in-house from other brands that were keto friendly mixed along with their store made goods.

Was this really what customers wanted?​

Surveys are a great tool to gather a lot of information that can paint a picture of what customers think of your current experience. Other times information from surveys can be ambiguous and guide you down the wrong path. For instance, “rate your experience from 1 to 10.” What does that really mean? And how can that be used to understand what they experienced and what would make it better?

It can be tough to learn what they want, if it you are not asking the questions properly. Like, “Select which responses best describe the brand?” Then you select from a handful of responses that you can choose from. These response options are highly biased in what the company believes are important for the brand. A bias that will carry through to the customer selecting the responses giving you false positives. 

There is always going to be bias in a company, a hypothesis of what is important and what is the problem. A survey, if not built externally by someone qualified, will reflect those internal biases that will result in answers that are skewed towards your point of view rather than the customers point of view. A company’s bias reflects back at them in a survey like a mirror.

Speaking to a handful of customers in person can teach you about their true perspective, revealing real problems and wants. I shopped along with a dozen bakery customers to understand what they were looking for in a bakery experience and to understand if the bakery had the right reasons for the slumping sales. Was it really all about a clean shopping environment and healthy bakery options?

Shopping with these customers was eye opening. I learned that the bakery missed the mark and I learned two golden keys that should be considered whenever evaluating a customer experience.

A survey, if not built externally by someone qualified, will reflect internal biases that will result in answers that are skewed towards your point of view rather than the customers point of view.

Shopping cart with junk food

1. Do as I Do, Not as I Say​

Before walking along-side customers throughout their store experience, I asked them a handful of questions to understand their shopping behaviors. I was impressed! It lined up well with the bakery’s survey. Customers were very health conscious and they said having cookies or bread in the house was not a weekly occurrence, trying to cut the carbs out and all. 

We then shopped the store. I told them it was my treat, “purchase your usual items as if they were doing a fill-in shop to restock the pantry for the week.” They were delighted and we shopped the store, they stayed true to their word on putting healthier items in their basket. We walked through the bakery and they browsed, but they did not put one item in their cart. The healthier options were there. Why not? The answer was “these are not made here, and they don’t look, yummy.”  

As we left the bakery, we went down some of the center aisles of the store and customers picked up the condiments, canned vegetables, sliced bread, and chips ahoy cookies. Wait what?? Sliced bread and chips ahoy? Calling all Keto Cops! Ok, it is time to call out our customers.

1. Why would you pick up Slide Bread and Chips Ahoy if you are eating healthier these days? Well…we try to eat healthier. But it’s nice to have a treat for the kids and yourself every once in a while.  

Customers will tell you what their aspirations are. They want to eat healthier, they truly do. But it is aspirational only and not reality. It is so important to listen to customers. But it is even more important to observe them. Which is why golden rule number one is DO WHAT I DO, NOT WHAT I SAY. 

But why didn’t they buy the cookies and carbs from the bakery?

2. Do What You Say, Not Say What You Do​

Bakery Fresh Sign

Customers believed that the items in the bakery didn’t look fresh. Like they were made somewhere else and shipped to the store to be sold days later. Digging deeper with consumers we found out the reason why they believed this to be true:

1. They never saw anyone baking anything in the bakery, “just packaging stuff.” 

2. It smelled so clean and sterile that it lacked a sense that anything was baked in the store.

3. The healthier items, with commercial branded labels, that were clearly not made in the store were mixed amongst the rest of the items, causing there to be a lack of trust that anything was really baked in the bakery.   

Which led to another question…did you notice the big sign in the bakery that says “WE BAKE ALL OF OUR COOKIES AND CAKES IN HOUSE”? “What? No! I didn’t notice that. I guess I was too busy looking at the cookies themself” was the reply. Absolutely, you can say what you do, as the sign states. It’s great to know that you bake fresh cookies in store. But it is an imperative that you “do what you say” so your customers know you do it. 


Bakeries have a lot of cleaning, prepping and packaging that needs to be done throughout the day. With all of this production work, it is just like the Dunkin’ Donuts man said in the commercials “It’s time to make the donuts” early, very early, in the morning. The problem with this is that customers are not there to see it, or smell it, happening. A simple switch of making cookies, even a small batch, during busy times of the day will fill the air with warm sugar and vanilla, signaling to customers that “We bake all of our cookies and cakes in house.”  

The Two Golden Rules:​

It was an easy fix for the bakery once they started to listen to their customers. And stopped leaning into their biases. They learned that even though bakery items were not on the approved lists of the many fad diets like Atkins to Keto, that there was still a place for baked goods in the lives of their customers. They also learned that food safety is important, but it cannot come at the cost of losing the authenticity that a bakery is expected to deliver.

Once the retailer stopped listening to what customers say and shifted to what they do, it was clear that customers do want quality baked goods. And once the bakery started to not only say what they do, but do what they say customers could see that product was baked in-house.

When building or assessing your customer experience, take a step back and think about how you are approaching it, think of these two golden rules to make your CX meaningful. Some questions to mindfully think about as you assess if you are following these rules are:



    1. Are you taking your customers word on what they want?

    2. Are you making assumptions on what is important to them?

    3. Or are you taking cues from your observations to discover what they want from an experience?


    1. Do you have to explain what you do to your customers?

    2. Can customers articulate what you do?

    3. How do you authentically showcase to your customers what you do? 

Innovator Matt Mueller

Matt Mueller

Thanks for reading! My goal is to provide an insightful, simplified, point of view on innovation, CX and insights to help you create positive change in everything you do. 

Let’s connect! Tell me what you want me to cover next.

1 thought on “The 2 Golden Keys of CX to Make Meaningful Change”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *