Recent research reported by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and the American Management Association (AMA), shows that there’s a growing gap between what organizations aspire to in terms of service delivery and the actual service customers experience.
Business is different. Not just today but each and every day thanks to the new pace of the environment where we conduct business. It’s no longer a local operation, business today is global and highly technical. The growth in emerging technologies means new products that make daily staples obsolete overnight or online technologies that can expose failures in service that destroy corporate reputations in an instant.
Customers today are more connect, informed, educated, and demanding than ever. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I like to think that the level of customer engagement with a product or a brand has also been better than ever. This means organizations that elevate their service and customers to interact more fully.
Customer Focus Matters
The research from i4cp and the AMA looked at customer focus from the point of view of high performance organizations and found that those top organizations, although different in their fields of expertise, all were experts in understanding their target customer. Furthermore, they shared a dedication to innovating to meet the current and future needs of the customers they serve.
In fact, 75% of business leaders from high performance organizations declared their companies to be more customer focused than their competitors. Jeremey Donovan, Chief Marketing Officer for AMA, said “everyone knows that customer focus matters. But high-performing organizations turn that knowledge into actionable business practices.”
Among many lower-performing organizations we found a significant gap between how employees perceive their employer and how customers view the company.
Only 40% of employers indicated that they keep promises made to their employees. Organizations that fail to deliver for their employees are inviting comparable failure on delivering on promises made to customers.
-Kevin Martin, Chief Research & Marketing Officer for I4CP
The AMA and i4cp report outlines 4 key differences between high-impact service brands and those that fail to deliver meaningful service. The finds show that excellence in customer focus is an effective core driver of corporate competitive advantage today:
4 Keys to the Growing Disconnect Between Service Delivery and Delivered Service
- Customer alignment starts high and runs deep. The behaviors of executives support customer focus in high performance organizations, and the practice is drilled down to include the behaviors of middle managers, too.
- Customer satisfaction is good, but customer advocacy is better. Satisfaction is the global standard for measuring customer focus, but high-performers recognize that active, engaged customers are the gold standard.
- Customer focus is data driven. In the age of big data and evidence-based business activity, high performance organizations use customer insights to shape products, services, and strategy.
- Technologies enable customer connections. From CRM software to social media, high-performers leverage high tech to achieve high touch with customers worldwide.
AMA and i4cp found that building customer-focus to create a competitive advantage depends on four factors:
- Ensuring customer-focused behaviors at all levels throughout the organization.
- Measuring customer satisfaction is good, but customer engagement is better.
- Using customer insights to shape products, services and strategy.
- Leveraging technologies—from CRM to social media—can help achieve high-touch.
Donovan explained that “failed promises can be as simple as poor service or unresponsiveness and may extend to more complex issues such as inconsistent quality. Providing customer-focused training and development to employees will create brand value and drive incremental revenue.”
Customer Focus Can’t Be Ignored
The take-away from this is that individuals and organizations can’t ignore customer focus. Even for those who really get it, there needs to be dedicated time and attention to continuing to build the systems and ensure that everyone in the organization gets it.
If organizations today want to really make a difference, separate themselves from the competition, and stand out in the minds of their customers they have to learn the skills, develop the knowledge, and deliver the results that customers want.