When it comes to the subject of Customer Experience, there are many questions I would like to know the answer to. The problem with my subject, is that very often, there is no right answer! However, over the last couple of years, I have started to conduct my own independent research:
- In 2013, I published the results to a survey on ‘what customers really want’
- Last year, I looked into the ‘things’ that make the worlds ‘number 1 customer experience brands’
I and many others found the results of both bodies of research fascinating. So this year, I wanted to explore another aspect of Customer Experience that I find extremely interesting. The number of organisations and their leaders who have started to ‘talk’ about Customer Experience has steadily increased over the last few years. I often say that if I were to be given £5, or $5 for every time a member of the C-Suite stated that ‘customer centricity’ was ‘very important’ to their business, I would be a VERY rich man – but is it actually true!
I have always been fascinated to know if people that work in organisations across the globe really do think it is true – i.e. that their companies do actually take customer centricity seriously. So there is no better way to find out than to ask the question. With the kind help of many people across my networks, I posed the following two very simple questions:
- Would you agree that your company always makes decisions consciously considering how the decision will positively or negatively affect the customer?
- Describe up to three things (in your own words) that are either enabling your organisation to focus on Customer Experience or not (as the case may be)!
When you consider that the definition of ‘Customer Centricity’ is:
“Putting customer focus at the heart of everything you do, in order to achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty”
I wanted to know if this is actually the case in reality. With the expert assistance of my friend and colleague, Jerry Angrave, I can reveal the following:
Only a third of respondents said ‘yes’! So despite all the good rhetoric, that means two-thirds are still making decisions without considering the effect those decisions will have on the customer!!
17% of respondents said a concrete ‘no’ – the most worrying response of all. We will find out exactly why in a moment. Half of the respondents said that their organisations make decisions considering the effect those decisions will have on the customer ‘sometimes’. By definition, this means that on occasion, the customer will not be considered. To be honest, the fact that 67% of organisations are not actually acting/behaving in a customer centric manner does not surprise me – to be honest, I half expected the percentage to be even higher.
So what did people see as either enabling customer centric behaviour…..or frustrating it? Four factors made up over 50% of all responses for the enablers:
- Organisations specifically wanting to have a better understanding of their customers (rather than an inward looking culture) 22%
- Organisations wanting their people to have a customer focused mindset to go about doing the right things without being penalised 12%
- Organisations having a dedicated resource to champion their Customer Experience cause 10%
- Leadership commitment 8%
The ‘frustrators’ for driving a genuine customer centric approach were as follows:
- Organisations being focused on things other than the customer – short term revenue; sales; restructures; cost cutting (at all costs); wrong metrics in performance management 29%
- Organisational silos – people working to different agendas with no incentive to work together 15%
- Lack of leadership – and inability to translate Customer Experience into commercial benefits 11%
Sadly, the frustrators are not surprising – I see them all on a regular basis – it is good to see it on black and white though. As Jerry states, ‘the over-riding sentiment is that organisations get in their own way’ – I could not agree more.
This research validates that the world of business has a LONG way to go before it can even consider customer centricity to be a real, genuine, authentic reality. Just saying that your business is customer centric, does not mean it actually is. To be able to consistently put the customer (and your employees for that matter) at the heart of everything you do, it is essential to:
- UNDERSTAND people – customers and colleagues
- ENABLE people to have a customer focused mindset
- EDUCATE people through the continuous introduction and development of customer experience skills and competencies
- LEAD – continuously communicate and live by customer centric values
There is no doubt that Customer Experience is playing an increasingly important role in the commercial world – yet it is vital that commercial organisations recognise the importance of transforming the way their businesses work to become more customer centric. If we are able to change mindsets and behaviours to stop TALKING about Customer Experience and actually DO it through ‘operationalising’ Customer Experience – then maybe, just maybe, customers, clients and consumers will really start to notice the difference!