Will Customer Experience Make or Break Your Company?


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Is your business stuck in neutral, or worse, drifting backwards? It doesn’t have to be that way. Some companies have figured out the secret for achieving ultra high business performance, and it has nothing to do with anything you’ll find on the balance sheet.

An elite set of companies has uncovered the secrets of customer experience to achieve ultra high business performance.

Customer satisfaction is one of those extremely valuable, yet sometimes elusive, business assets. Despite its value, it won’t show up on your balance sheet as an economic asset. However, get it right and your company can soar above all others in terms of profits, growth, and universal admiration.

Wouldn’t you love to be part of a company like that? With the right tools and advice, you can.

A Journal of Marketing article published in 2006 demonstrated an amazing correlation between high levels of customer satisfaction and ultra high market performance. Using both back-tested and real-world portfolios, Claes Fornell, et al. proved that there was a significant relationship between customer satisfaction levels and market performance. Furthermore, their study demonstrated that between 1997 and 2003, a portfolio of companies with high levels of customer satisfaction

  • outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJIA) by 93%,
  • beat the S&P 500 (.SPX) by 201%, and
  • schooled the NASDAQ by 335%!

Source: Claes Fornell et al., “Customer Satisfaction and Stock Prices,” Journal of Marketing, January 2006.

It should be no surprise that leading customer satisfaction companies are also well represented in Fortune Magazine’s list of Most Admired companies. In 2007, companies such as General Electric, FedEx, Toyota, Apple, Google, and Starbuck’s were in the top echelon of both the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and the top 20 Most Admired companies according to Fortune Magazine. It seems obvious that companies with high levels of customer satisfaction are also universally admired by their peers.

Simply put, companies that are leaders in customer satisfaction can achieve not only good performance, but ultra high performance.

So how did these companies unlock the secrets to ultra high performance? Customer satisfaction is obviously the key. But how did they learn to excel in customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is not a single event or interaction. Instead, it is the resulting measure of how well the customer was treated throughout the entire customer experience lifecycle.

Therefore, in order to unlock the secrets of customer satisfaction, you must first focus on delivering an outstanding customer experience.

Customer experience management is not new. However, more and more companies are quickly realizing that customer experience is becoming the new competitive battleground in today’s marketplace. And the stakes are high. Those companies that gain an early advantage build a strong bond between their business and their customers – a bond that is extremely difficult to break. When it comes to customer experience, the first mover advantage can be significant.

Perhaps no company will ever achieve a perfect customer satisfaction score. On one hand, you simply can’t please all of the people all of the time. On the other hand, however, this means that most companies have a lot of room for improvement.

But improving the customer experience is a serious endeavor. It requires executive commitment, patience, and a clear vision. Any company that is serious about customer experience should first begin to think about it as a process. Like any process, the customer experience process can work perfectly (or go horribly wrong), may contain numerous scenarios, and can be analyzed, re-engineered, and optimized.

The customer experience process does not begin and end at your store, sales representative, web site, or call center. It extends from the moment the customer becomes aware of your company and may last until they die, move, or leave you for another company. In short, the customer experience process is broad, deep, iterative, and (hopefully) long running.

Mastering it is no small task. Indeed, great customer experiences don’t happen by accident. They require a keen attention to detail, a focus on every touch point, and an orchestration of all encounters regardless of how each customer may navigate your company. Mastering your customer experience must begin with mastering the end-to-end customer experience process.

To get smart about customer experience, take advantage of the numerous resources available on the Internet. Various online sources provide insights, tools, solutions, and advice. Utilize these resources to develop a strategy and perspective of customer experience that makes the most sense for you and your company.

Who knows, you just might unlock the secrets of customer experience that drive ultra high business performance.

Note: Past performance is not an indication of future results.

Robert Howard
Robert G. Howard, Partner at Kurt Salmon, has more than 20 years of experience designing and implementing innovative customer experiences across web, retail, customer care, and mobile channels. Mr. Howard is the co-author of the The Customer Experience Fiasco, and 7 Steps to Customer Experience Domination.


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