The larger a company's market share, the greater the risk it will take its customers for granted. When leadership begins confusing customer profitability with customer loyalty, they fail to realize that the most lucrative buyers may also be the least satisfied. Worse, traditional market research may lead the firm to view customers as statistics. Too much focus on the data results in the real voices of customers going unheard.
A Bain & Company survey reveals just how commonly companies misread their customers. They surveyed hundreds of companies and found that 80 percent believed they delivered a "superior experience" to their customers.
But when customers were asked about their own perceptions, only 8 percent agreed that companies were truly delivering a superior experience. Clearly, it's easy for leading companies to assume they're keeping customers happy but it's quite another thing to achieve that kind of customer devotion.
So what sets the elite 8 percent apart? The survey suggested that they take a distinctively broad view of the customer experience. Unlike most companies, which reflexively turn to product or streamlining customer experiences to improve customer satisfaction, the leaders pursue three imperatives simultaneously:
- Design the right offers and experiences - Make custom experiences to please customers again and again
- Deliver these propositions - Focus the entire company with an emphasis on cross-functional collaboration.
- Develop their capabilities - Revamping the planning process, training people in how to create new customer propositions, and establishing direct accountability for the customer experience.
Each of these D's draws on and reinforces the others. Together, they transform the company into one that is continually led and informed by its customers' voices.