My pleasure

With a tightening economy, new study provides statistical evidence that focusing on customer experience pays off.


Companies that offer a better customer experience, along with a strong customer orientation, enjoy a decisive competitive advantage.

Over 150 senior executives from leading U.S. corporations were polled.

Some key findings were:

Among companies reporting high customer-experience maturity, 81 percent reported outperforming their competition.

Companies that reported outperforming competitors also reported higher future investment plans in customer experience.

Although 76 percent of respondents reported that they motivate employees to treat customers fairly, only 62 percent provide the right tools and training to earn customer trust.

While 76 percent reported that customer trust is tied to the financial success of the business, only 60 percent consider how a proposed action increases or decreases customer trust when making decisions.

Most companies want to focus on enhancing the customer experience but are pressured for short-term results. Only 42 percent of respondents agree that their company can do what is right, despite the pressure to make current-period numbers.

“As the 4-P’s of marketing — product, price, place and promotion — become increasingly tactical, this study confirms that more companies are embracing the 3-I’s of marketing — customer insight, interaction and improvement — as the key to growing long-term profitable customers. However, there is room for improvement,” said Jeff Gilleland, global strategist for customer intelligence solutions at SAS.

“Companies are doing a good job gathering customer data but are falling short at creating proprietary insight from it,” observed Gilleland. “You can’t manage the customer experience if you don’t know what your customer is likely to buy next or if they are going to attrite. Of the companies we surveyed, only 39 percent rate their capabilities as “good” or “excellent” in predicting a customer’s likelihood to purchase, cancel or leave. Looking around the curve and predicting future outcomes is where the value of customer insight lies.”

Some 60 percent of respondents report treating customers differently, based on an understanding of individual needs. “That’s important,” added Gilleland. “Needs represent the “why” behind the “buy.” Knowing individual customer needs enables a company to craft more relevant customer experiences to improve loyalty.”

Even with information that can improve the customer experience companies don’t always have the infrastructure to share it effectively. Only 26 percent of respondents rated their companies as “good” or “excellent” at distributing intelligence to the customer touch-points where it can affect the customer experience. Importantly on 18 percent rated “good’ or “excellent” on creating individual treatment tracks to manage the customer experience across products and channels.

“Getting the customer experience right requires a cultural shift,” explains Peppers & Rogers Group Founding Partner, Martha Rogers, Ph.D.

“From the research, we learned that the success of a company’s journey toward customer experience excellence is founded upon and guided by a strong organizational orientation toward the customer. It requires a long-term focus that takes into account short-term realities. The research shows that companies are struggling with the balance, but the ones that are taking the longer term view are seeing results.”

Customer-centricity is growing. Companies are beginning to manage organizational performance and customer improvement by incorporating customer metrics as key performance indicators. In fact, 43 percent of companies rated their customer metrics as “good” or “excellent”.

Gilleland sees this as progress “putting customer metrics on the executive dashboard demonstrates a changing focus. It’s not going to happen overnight, but this survey indicates that companies are taking steps in the right direction.”