Like most “overnight” sensations, Jimi Hendrix was not an immediate success. He burst onto the American music scene at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, after a fascinating series of events first turned him into a superstar in the U.K.

So much of what happened to Hendrix parallels the global rise of customer experience as a sustainable business differentiator.

An interesting attributes that connects Hendrix and customer experience has to do with naming conventions.  Although born with the first name “Johnny”, his father renamed him “Jimmy” at age three.  Additionally, early in his career, Hendrix was known by several stage names – one being “Jimmy James.”

In this regard, is customer experience really just warmed-over or renamed customer relationship management?  The answer is an emphatic “No.”

Much like the music Hendrix made when he hit international stardom was far different than what he played early in his career, customer experience is categorically a much different concept than CRM.  You can find a clue in the words “management” vs. “experience”. The desired business outcomes may be significantly different – and customer experience implies that it is both the means to an end and the end itself.

For much of his early musical career Hendrix was a background musician. He played in several bands that supported stars such as Little Richard and the The Isley Brothers. Despite exquisite musical skills, he was relegated to a side role until he became a headlining act in 1966. (Most people aren’t aware he also had a background as paratrooper in the 101st Airborne.)

Customer experience has taken a similar route to stardom. As recently as five years ago, C-level executives typically citied customer experience as an interesting, but not  “headlining” business strategy.  Just as something changed in Hendrix’s music, a shift has occurred in the thinking of global executives in realizing customer experience is the sustainable business differentiator that must take center stage.

Next: Making new friends – the key to Hendrix’s stardom and a key to Customer Experience Success.

Discover more about how Cisco customer experience offerings can help make music for your customers here.


Zack Taylor


Cisco Global Collaboration