Transforming CX with Customer Journeys That Inspire Loyalty

This week we welcome Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., to the Digitally Irresistible podcast. Joseph is the founder and CEO of The Michelli Experience (TME), an award-winning author, and CX Hall of Fame inductee.   

As a certified CX professional, Joseph specializes in helping leaders attract and engage customers. The Michelli Experience (TME) offers leadership and management consulting, personalized training, customer journey mapping, agile design, customer retention solutions, and tailored keynote presentations and workshops. TME’s approach emphasizes adding value to the customer journey to differentiate brands from competitors and return value to the brand.     

On this episode, we discuss how Joseph’s LEAD framework harnesses the fusion of authentic human empathy and technological efficiency to deliver irresistible value propositions and generate unbreakable customer loyalty.

Emotional Engagement: The Key to Meaningful Human Experiences That Unlock Customer Satisfaction

Joseph’s story begins in unimaginable circumstances. As a newborn baby, he was rescued from abandonment in a trash can and raised by loving adoptive parents who instilled the belief that people best enrich their own lives by serving other people. This idea inspired him to earn his doctorate in clinical psychology and invest in making a difference in other people’s lives.  

Joseph’s unique personal experiences, people-first focus, and expertise in psychology provided him with the tools to excel at transforming the way brands attract, retain, and engage customers. As the founder and CEO of The Michelli Experience, Joseph embraces the challenge of delivering irresistible customer experience in an arena defined by evolving customer needs and rapidly advancing technologies. Top global brands from financial services to retail turn to Joseph and TME to reassess the timeless question of how to earn customer loyalty within the context of today’s digitally transformed marketplace.

In Joseph’s experience—both personal and as an expert in CX—emotional engagement is key to creating meaningful human connections that transcend circumstances. As needs and opportunities fluctuate, brands are tasked with striking a new balance that sustains satisfaction and loyalty. For instance, technological advancement has gained momentum at an exponential rate, imparting efficiency with less need for human interaction on certain tasks. However, efficiency does not necessarily correlate to satisfaction. With the American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2022 indicating a 17-year low, it’s clear that customers need more than efficiency to feel an emotional connection to a brand.  

For this reason, many business leaders of global organizations identify CX as a differentiator of success and strive to implement it as a strategic initiative. As a global consultant and prolific author on strategies for CX, Joseph has spent years helping brands succeed in their CX strategies by leveraging his people-first passion into customer-first policies. In this podcast, follow along on the customer journey with Joseph as he shares his LEAD framework for implementing the right mix of digital technology and human interaction at scale to add value to the customer experience and maximize brand success. 

The LEAD Framework for Shaping Success with Human Empathy, Digital Efficiency, and Delightful Experiences

For brands, the question of effective CX is about how to invest in it as a strategic initiative and leverage it to accomplish quantifiable objectives. Rather than answer this directly, Joseph goes straight to the subject: the customer. Prioritizing the customer’s perspective is a simple yet powerful reminder that the fundamental goal of CX is to create experiences that make people want to repeat them and share them with other people. Joseph developed his LEAD Framework to guide each brand’s approach to achieving this goal.  

At one point in his career, Joseph was working as a consultant for a brand in the automotive industry. This brand set an objective of improving their J.D. Power Customer Experience Index Model rating from a position in the twenties to the number one spot—an ambitious goal that Joseph helped achieve with a team of CX consultants 1 ½ years ahead of schedule. Here’s how Joseph leverages the LEAD framework to achieve remarkable success.

1. Listen. 

Joseph explains that the first step of the LEAD framework is not just about listening with the ears. It’s about utilizing every tool a brand has at their disposal to observe and gauge customer sentiment. By watching and appreciating the customer experience throughout the journey of engagement, brands can identify the most high-value moments as well as the pain points likely to lead to increased churn.  

Gaining this understanding requires a combination of human interaction and digital tools. This step takes a multidimensional and cross-platform approach to listening that includes social media monitoring and surveys that reveal what customers are saying about their experience in their own words. Speech analytics, machine learning, data mining, and other technologies are vital resources for deploying a multichannel approach to listening that reveals the whole story of what customers need. 

2. Empathize. 

Listening to the customer journey at a deeper level allows brands to respond to customer needs with empathy. It’s important to acknowledge customer sentiment, letting them know that the brand has listened to their needs and values the customer relationship. This requires a deft human touch to interactions that elevates the customer experience, leaving a lasting impression that inspires them to return for more.

3. Add Value.

With this information, brands can shift their focus to strategies aimed at adding value to the customer journey. In many cases, adding value is best facilitated by a culture of innovation that inspires out-of-the-box thinking. This is where technology plays a vital role. Technology such as chatbots and self-service options can predict and address potential simple inquiries without escalating to a live agent. Utilizing robotic process automation (RPA) is a proven way for brands and customers to enjoy the benefits of more efficient processes. Predictive analytics powered by AI tools can also alleviate pain points further along the customer journey. The objective is to continuously improve CX with proactive rather than reactive strategies. This approach encourages repurchase intent and fosters genuine human connections between the customer and the brand, setting them apart from competitors vying for the same customer base.  

 4. Delight.  

The last step is to create a distinctive, uplifting moment that makes the brand stand out to customers in a memorable way. In other words? Delight them. The goal of customer delight is to prioritize lasting customer satisfaction through operational consistency in three areas that matter the most to customers: meeting needs, reducing effort, and elevating the experience with a sense of delight. When executed consistently, customer delight functions as a powerful brand promise that engages your customers on a meaningful level, cultivating lasting satisfaction and loyalty. Optimize the customer experience through human-centric interaction with agents.  

Additionally, when customers feel emotionally connected to a brand, they appoint themselves as brand promoters, spreading positive word of mouth and referrals. There is a correlation between people who report emotional connection to a brand and that brand’s achievement of high net promoter scores (NPS). Harnessing delight as a strategic tool has the potential to transform satisfied customers into the best members of your sales team. 

How Identifying Core Customer Segments Guides Effective Customer Journey Mapping

CX excellence can be achieved by identifying opportunities across the journeys of core customer segments and setting measurable metrics to track progress. For many brands, around 80% of customers can be represented by three or four core customer segments. By mapping their journey, brands can modify processes and technologies that create value over 3-5 years. To succeed over this span, Joseph suggests the following: 

  • Gain support from C-suite executives who support CX initiatives. The support of top leadership that appreciates the value of CX as a strategic initiative is invaluable. Some organizations reflect this value by creating the role of “chief experience officer” to guide developments that support exceptional CX.  
  • Invest in cross-functional teams who become CX champions. Leadership is only the beginning; a lasting CX revolution requires the involvement of the entire organization. This entails crafting a compelling vision that ingrains itself within the culture of the organization. Aligning the organization’s messaging to nurture a strong customer service culture results in engaged employees who are motivated and empowered to promote smile-worthy experiences. Optimize the customer experience through human-centric interaction with agents. Cross-functional teams can be equipped to serve as customer experience champions who, without being titled leaders, nudge the organization forward and keep a finger on the pulse of customer needs.
  • Give the customer a seat at the table. In every room of the organization, the customer should have a presence, joining the conversation and factoring into decisions. The key to sustained CX success is maintaining a customer-first focus that listens to, empathizes with, adds value to, and delights the brand’s customers.

Value Propositions That Elevate Engagement to Cultivate Customer Loyalty

By leveraging an effective value proposition that cultivates emotional engagement and creates smiles, brands can strategically influence customer loyalty. Processes and procedures that are applied with empathy and nuance have the power to transform customers into more satisfied individuals that return value to the brand. 

Customer satisfaction is born when brands successfully transform positive, memorable moments into a loyal relationship sustained by consistently delightful experiences. Joseph’s LEAD framework presents an irresistible opportunity for brands to boost customer loyalty through a simple, customizable approach that harnesses the right mix of empathetic human interactions and efficient digital solutions to cultivate exceptional customer journeys. Backed by a proven record of success, Joseph continues to deploy this method as part of The Michelli Experience, empowering brands to achieve KPIs and gain a reputation for CX that creates smiles with their customers.     

To learn more about Joseph, visit him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his website at

Get our podcasts delivered to your inbox