Can Customer Experience Drive the Delivery of ESG Promises?

Published date: 24 Jan 2022

Customer experience transformation can be key to ensuring the delivery of ESG promises.

COP26 in Glasgow had the world focused on what it’s going to take to future proof the planet, with major corporations pledging unprecedented action to do their part to reduce climate change.

There is scepticism about the real intent and commitment of larger corporations in being customer-centric and putting climate change first.

We share key learnings attained from organisations driving a customer agenda, how applying these insights could accelerate and de-risk climate change / ESG goals, whilst advancing the customer agenda.

Lessons from customer experience change that can help drive companies’ ESG undertakings:

1) Customer experience activity does not equal progress:

It’s easy to be busy, working on customer experience, and spending a lot of cash (e.g.: on technology), but this doesn’t mean you’re improving customer experience and business results.

The same is true of climate change. ‘Greenwashing’ ends up damaging both reputation and environment.

What really matters are outcomes

2) It’s easy for leaders to claim a customer experience ambition, but much harder to deliver it:

Senior Execs find it easy to state “We are customer-centric”, but it’s harder to change behaviours and realign priorities.

Customer experience execs help leaders to focus on early wins and build hard evidence, even on a small scale.

Climate change requires massive realignment of priorities and behaviour change, but it’s critical to make a start and to build evidence that it can make a difference.

It’s easier to say than do, but leaders need to be encouraged to make a start

3) Customer experience is a major and enterprise-scale change:

To be successful in customer experience, leaders need to completely realign the organisation behind the customer agenda. Failing to declare the large scale of change that is required, means customer experience programmes stall due to lack of momentum.

There’s an even bigger job to ‘re-wire’ each organisation to support climate change. Business leaders need to acknowledge upfront the scale of change required, the risks, and opportunities, posed by climate change.

For this to succeed, leaders need to acknowledge and plan upfront for systemic change. Failure to do this increases the chance of inadvertently greenwashing.

4) Organisations need to identify and respond to customer-facing challenges faster:

Organisations need to identify and respond quickly to climate change impacts, challenges, and opportunities.

Organisations need to deliberately plan for a step-change in their ability to identify, change, pilot and scale responses to the challenges and opportunities of climate change.[1]

5) Observers are cynical:

Whilst businesses claim to be customer-centric, or say they will be ‘carbon neutral by X date;’ what action can be seen to prove this?

Buying carbon credits, without significant efforts in reducing emissions just delays the required effort.

6) You can’t outsource customer experience change:

Organisations need to develop the expertise within their business to drive the fundamental changes, in customer experience and climate change, that is needed.  

You need to build the expertise to drive rapid change in your business

Four potential areas of synergy to help leaders meet their companies’ ESG undertakings:

1) Encourage leaders to focus on the need to “future proof” the organisation:

Setting out the action on both climate change and on CX is critical to ensuring long term revenue streams and optimising costs.

2) Find and support brave leaders:

Climate change and CX both need brave leaders to challenge the norms and established priorities.

3) Build and facilitate communities:

Connect colleagues who champion climate change and customers to reinforce the right behaviours. Share what’s working and what to avoid to speed up learning, build a portfolio of proven practices, and encourage progress towards climate and customer goals.

4) Make a start:

Find a place where you can make a start, even if it might seem small. Make sure people, both inside and outside the organisation, take notice, get reassured, empowered and enthused.


At a practical level, customer experience plays a role in building sustainable and good governance practices that directly leads to efficiency which directly leads to reduction of the resources required.

There is a big part to play for CX in relaying their concerns that big companies are genuine in their efforts.

This isn’t rocket science, but neither climate change nor customer experience is easy.

They are both complex and multi-dimensional, so it pays off to identify lessons learned and to leverage areas of potential synergy to legitimately drive both agendas at the same time.

Want to continue this discussion? Join “Campfire” a community of CX Leaders:

With thanks to:

Suzanne Cahill – Group Head of Client Experience at HSBC Asset Management

Carolyn Delahanty – Senior CX Advisor at TribeCX

Praveen Gopalan – Environmental Sustainability and Employee Engagement Program Manager at BBC

Penny Couchman – COO TribeCX

[1]         In the UK this is a legal requirement for large companies from 2022.