The experience void

There is a massive disconnect between what business executives say and do when it comes to creating and managing the customer experience.

While 80 per cent of executives say they want to use customer experience management (CXM) as a form of differentiation in 2010, only 11 per cent would call their CXM approach “very disciplined”.

For example, most companies (44 per cent) acknowledge that high-profile negative customer experiences have at some time compromised their brand, yet only 29 per cent have high ability to handle and resolve customer complaints.

It is not that they don’t get it. On the contrary, experienced CEOs universally ‘get’ the importance and the need for optimising customer experience. All the CEOs/GMs/ MDs I know/ have met understand and appreciate the importance of creating and managing the customer value chain. (Over a lifetime that is a significant sample across three continents.)

There are two reasons for not doing anything about it…

Reason 1: The view from the executive suite is somewhat distorted.

Only 12 per cent of customers judge specific leading suppliers as extremely customer-centric (CMO Council Customer Affinity study), while 56 per cent of those same suppliers think of themselves as extremely customer-centric.

That is, executives think they are doing something about but the customers don’t agree.

Reason 2: In the absence of a viable action plan, they persevere with status quo. The only viable action for executives is maintaining the operational status quo (and maybe
seeking small, incremental improvements) – because CXM vendors fail to put forward a convincing case. These vendors:

  • Rely on hype or fear mongering.
  • Keep telling anecdotes about Disney and Apple and the Ritz Carlton that most organisations can’t relate to.
  • Confuse social media tactics with real strategic solutions.
  • Provide little evidence of commitment to rigorous processes that earmark customer experience optimisation as a discipline.
  • Rarely address the risk factors appropriately.
  • Lack operational experience and retailsmarts, and mask this with charisma and engaging story-telling.

The reasons conjured up above are a matter of opinion. I would really like to elicit your view on this question. Please write your opinion here – and I will consolidate and give feedback next week with the result. (Thank you.)

In conclusion:

The big picture questions for all executives (that you should resolve in your organisation are:

1. Are these two reasons mentioned above legitimate reasons not to make the creation and delivery of your customer value proposition the major priority?

2. If these reasons do not apply to you, are you being honest with yourself and your stakeholders about the strategic business priorities?


PS: Most statistics quoted are from publications sourced from Clear Action consultancy based in the US, but I believe they are relatively universal.

PPS: Please remember the 1-question quiz.

Dr Dennis Price is a consultant, trainer and speaker working with the retail supply chain to effectively implement their brands on the consumer frontline.


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