The total experience of a customer with a company is worth more than any one communication. Customers feel first, think second-and interactions with a company strongly influence their heart and produce a longer lasting impact than communications directed toward their heads. But how well does do companies deliver that experience?
The Customer Experience Maturity Monitor, a qualitative and quantitative research study conducted by Peppers & Rogers Group, SAS and Jubelirer Research, addresses that issue in its first report, "The State of Customer Experience Capabilities and Competencies:"
Customer experience has always been important, but due to changes in customer behavior, the economy and technology, it's become a focal point for marketers looking for an edge. Now that customers control the conversation online and products have become commoditized, customers differentiate brands by the way they feel and the connection they have. The Customer Experience Maturity Monitor found that among companies with strong capabilities for delivering customer experience, 81 percent outperform their competition despite these obstacles. In contrast, among companies with weaker capabilities and competencies, the number drops to 60 percent.
Creating a great customer experience, according to the research, requires enterprise-level customer insight through data. Timely, accurate and cross-channel data are key to shaping a customer's individual experience, testing marketing messages, and streamlining the cross-channel experience.
Unfortunately, many companies don't have the capability to create a consistent customer experience. Only 39 percent of companies rate their performance as good or excellent in anticipating customers' purchase behaviors (e.g., calculating the probability to buy or defect to a competitor), and an even smaller number (24 percent) are good or excellent at estimating a customer's likelihood to purchase or engage by channel.
"The ability to predict is an essential element for creating compelling customer experiences, because anticipating customer needs and behaviors allows a company to proactively engage customers with customized interactions that are both relevant and timely," says Martha Rogers, Ph.D., founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group. "Customers don't simply want companies to collect information about them-they expect that insight to be used to add value to the relationship."
As companies improve their customers' experiences, they progress along a series of five maturity levels defined within SAS's Customer Experience Maturity Model: product hostage, customer enthusiast, customer activist, experiential champion, and experiential master.
Most companies are at the customer enthusiast and customer activists levels, and have instituted customer-focused initiatives but have not instituted a core business strategy centered around the customer experience. To move to experiential master, the highest level, companies need to have a dedication to improving the performance of processes surrounding the customer experience through both incremental and innovative technological improvements, coupled with an empowered work force that is aligned with the business objectives and the company values. While only 5 percent of companies have achieved this distinction, according to the research, their likelihood of outperforming their competition is three-to-one.