How Customer-Centricity Plays Out in a Customer Experience and Affects Customer Retention


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All too often organizations make the mistake of focusing all their energies on exclusively improving the customer experience. This certainly is vital, but in many cases the specific experience they’re providing is due to the organization’s customer-centricity. We always point out to clients “the experience you provide your customers is as a direct result of how customer-centric your organization is; if your organization is product-centric the experience will follow suit.”

I recently had an experience of my own that illustrates this point. After going for a vision exam at Boots Opticians, I ordered new glasses, which I was told would take two weeks to arrive. Three weeks later they finally arrived – with the wrong lenses. The correct glasses, I was told, would take another two weeks to arrive. After fruitlessly trying to resolve the issue on-site, I decided to complain to the company.

Finding a way to contact the company via email proved to be a difficult task in and of itself. Their website did not make the process clear, indicating a position of not encouraging customer complaints and contact. This is a clear sign of an organization that is not customer-centric. When I finally did figure out how to submit my note, I received the following email in reply:

Dear Mr Shaw

Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate the time and trouble you have taken in contacting us.

I’m sorry to learn of your disappointment after your recent visit to our local opticians practice. Given the nature of your comments I’ve asked a member of our clinical team to review your case notes so that we can understand in a bit more detail what has happened. Due to the complexity of your complaint, this may mean a longer than expected delay whilst they review things and we will be back in contact within the next three weeks. I’d like to reassure you, however, that we do understand the importance of your complaint and we’ll be back in contact as soon as we’re able.

I would, however, like to thank you for sharing your concerns with us. If we can help you further at any stage please do not hesitate in contacting us on the below number.

Yours sincerely

Senior Customer Manager

It’s unacceptable to take three weeks to look into a simple complaint. Despite the company’s position that the issue is complex, it is not. It’s been two weeks since I received this reply, to which I immediately responded that the suggested timeframe was unacceptable. Not only have I not received a reply, but my glasses are late again.

After another formal complaint I finally received a reply. My glasses have now arrived – late – and they have offered me a 10% discount for the aggravation.

This is a classic example of a broken organization, and the failure manifests itself in form of a lousy customer experience. If I were advising Boots Opticians, I would suggest they start internally, not externally, to improve their customer experience.

By employing our Naïve to Natural™ research model, we can effectively determine the level of customer-centricity of an organization. There are four orientations and some 269 data points we collect to assess exactly where they are.

Boots Opticians demonstrates all the traits of a naïve, transactional organization. They say their focused is on the customer, but the evidence proves otherwise. They say my complaint is important, but clearly that isn’t what they think. They are just paying me lip service – a classic example of a naïve, transactional organization.

Providing such a poor customer experience can have a devastating effect on customer retention and costs money. Both are true in this case. First, I will not be a return customer; second, the cost of dealing with my complaint and ultimately giving me a discount has an effect on the bottom line.

Looking at your own customer experience, it’s important to know which elements are driving customers away and which are destroying loyalty. What signals does your customer experience send about your organization?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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