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The famous customer experience delivery gap Bain and Company first published in 2005 - click for PDFWhat do customers really want? Are we delivering it? Is there a gap?

Customers have certain goals in mind when they come to us. How easy is it to get it done? Is it enjoyable or painful? Is there a gap in their expectations and the actual experience?

There is a gap. There always is. How big is it? We ought to know.

In “How to achieve true customer-led growth – Closing the delivery gap”, James Allen, Barney Hamilton, Rob Markey and Frederick F. Reichheld (the latter also author of a paper with a significant impact on brand advocacy in 2003), found that 80% of companies believe they provide a superior proposition with only 8% of customers agreeing.

The customer experience gap has always been and remains huge. You can look up hundreds of pieces of research from at least the last decennium and it will always come back. The percentage of business respondents claiming they offer (or better: enable) “a good customer experience” is dramatically higher that the percentage of customers saying they experience these … experiences as good (or great for that matter).

So we start with a gap. We’ve measured it and we know what it is. Now is the time to develop a great strategy to do something about it.

Can we improve the experience for the customer? Yes, we can. Is it a one-time initiative? Nope.

  • The enablement of great/easy customer experiences is continuous process. It stretches much further than, for instance, marketers believe. Other reasons:
    • Customer expectations change
    • Customer expectations differ
    • There will always be bad decisions and none of your employees will ever be perfect.
    • With each new technology, channel, societal evolution, etc., both customer expectations and the factors defining customer experience will continue to change as well.
  • You can create the ecosystem for amazing customer experiences and of course customer service. But you can’t fully control the perceived value of the customer. You can optimize everything you do – and should do it as well, in a prioritized and realistic way – but you will never be able to satisfy everyone.
  • This is where capturing the Voice of the Customer and continuous loops of gathering feedback and data to enhance what you do comes into play, again adding to the ‘continuous’ aspect.

So, what can you do? How can you put (the) customer experience in the center and should you even care?

A more holistic and connected customer experience approach going beyond marketing and customer service is essential to succeed. But that isn’t enough.

The customer experience and the customer-centric model framework of Accenture - source
The customer experience and the customer-centric model framework of Accenture – source