The Total Customer Experience Palette

What is Total Customer Experience?

Think about the difference between ‘customer service’ and ‘the customer experience’.

Customer service tends to relate only to the contact a customer has with a company’s people (person-to-person or on the other end of a digital interface) and is usually restricted to transactions or queries.

Customer experience, on the other hand, encompasses the holistic experience customers will have of a service. So, if you order a product online, for instance, your experience as a customer will start with a search or the advertisement you clicked, the process of choosing and buying your item, the follow-up information you were sent, tracking and waiting for the delivery, calls or chats with the contact centre if it didn’t arrive, and unpacking the item and disposing of the packaging. The customer service elements of that experience were when you bought your item and had to contact them about the delivery issue; all the other aspects, including those, made up your overall experience.

The ‘customer experience’ is the sum of each and every experience your customers have of your products and services and, as a result, what they come to believe about your brand. Take a look at what we call the Total Customer Experience Palette below. You’ll have spotted that Customer Service is just one of the headings and one aspect of the total customer experience. Customers experience the combination of each of these aspects; they combine to form a perception of your business that drives their purchase decision.

The Total Customer Experience Palette provides a framework for exploring how what you do and provide as a business combines to define the experience for your customers. If you extend the columns downwards you can also explore and capture how your organization delivers what it delivers, see the extent to which what you’re working on contributes to the overall effect for customers, and collate operational details such as what you’re measuring. The palette can help you see the relationship between what you do and the overall effect for your customers.

It’s not deep, but it’s a start and something you can use to get a different conversation going in your organization.

Using the worksheets with your teams

There are two versions of the worksheet to try. At first glance they look the same but they are different.

  1. View of today
    Use the worksheet titled ‘View of today’ to create a description of how your organization as a whole creates an experience for your customers. Work across the rows and down the columns to note as much detail as you can about your organization today.
  2. View of where we want to be
    Use the worksheet titled ‘View of where we want to be’ to describe the experience you’d love your customers to have of your business, then work down and across the worksheet to explore the organizational functions, initiatives, projects and teams needed to work towards this ambition.

View of today

View of where we want to be


You can download Total Customer Experience Palette worksheets, fill them in yourself (the A3-sized PDFs), or work on them with your team (the A0-sized PDFs). (Links open pages on

Working through these worksheets with your team or senior leaders in your organization will give you an opportunity to ask yourselves some important questions, such as:

  • How great is the difference between how our customers perceive our business today and how we’d like them to?
  • How does each area of our business impact the experience for our customers?
  • Who are the people responsible for improving things for customers?
  • Are we focusing our efforts on the right things?