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Mila D'Antonio | May 9, 2012

The Customer Experience Disconnect

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Earlier this week, my colleagues and I were debating the differences between what makes a good customer experience and if high marks for delivering customer experience translate to that company being truly customer centric.

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We discussed how many companies talk the talk with customer experience on their websites and in annual reports, but do they really walk the walk? They may say they do voice of the customer, but acting on data from an annual survey isn't really being proactive. And how much do low prices and coupons play into the overall "customer experience" in this price-conscious society that we currently live in? For example, there's a department store that typically receives high customer experience marks probably because they constantly slash their prices, and probably not for its service--its employees are often surly and unhelpful.

On the heels of our group's discussion, was the release yesterday of The Temkin Group's annual report, "The State of Customer Experience Management, 2012," which examined 255 large companies to determine where they rank on the customer experience journey. The findings confirm the disconnect our group raised earlier this week between companies saying they're focused on customer experience and actually providing good customer experiences.

The Temkin Group found an "abundance of CX ambition and activity," with most companies employing a customer experience executive (six out of 10 companies), launching significant customer experience activities, and having a staff of six to eight full-time employees focused on customer experience and 28 percent employ more than 20 people in this area. However, the survey found that despite having these customer experience components in place, only 7 percent are "very strong" at customer experience today and 35 percent of companies are in the lowest stage of customer experience maturity. And 59 percent of the respondents state that their company's goal is to become the industry leader in customer experience within three years.

Some other findings from the research include:

• Nearly 80 percent of companies with voice-of-the-customer programs report that they are already delivering positive business results.

• Voice-of-the-customer programs run into the most obstacles when it comes to integrating CRM data and analyzing social media conversations.

• The percentage of companies using NPS increased from 49 percent last year to 56 percent this year.

• Companies with higher levels of customer experience maturity focus more on employees and culture and less on cutting costs.

Why the disconnect between the components that companies have in place to deliver great customer experience and the low percentage of companies that rank very strong when customers rank their experience? The Temkin Group points to a struggle with employee engagement, delivering compelling brand values, and focusing on cutting costs.

What do you think? What is holding back brands from providing exceptional customer experiences?

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