Focus on experience means competitive advantage

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on November 25, 2008

Companies that have better customer experience management capabilities, along with a strong customer orientation, enjoy a distinct competitive advantage, according to the results of a survey by SAS and Peppers & Rogers Group.

More than 150 senior executives from leading US corporations were polled to gauge their customer experience management capabilities in the first annual Customer Experience Maturity Monitor study.

Among the survey's key findings:

  • Among companies reporting high customer-experience maturity, 81% reported outperforming their competition.
  • Companies that reported outperforming competitors also reported higher future investment plans in customer experience capabilities.
  • Although 76% of respondents reported that they motivate employees to treat customers fairly, only 62% provide the right tools and training to earn customer trust.
  • While 76% reported that customer trust is tied to the financial success of the business, only 60% 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% of respondents agreed 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 confirms that more companies are embracing the 3-I's of marketing (customer insight, interaction and improvement) as keys to growing long-term profitable customers. However, there is still room for improvement," noted Jeff Gilleland, global strategist for customer intelligence solutions at SAS.

In fact, according to Gilleland, many companies are doing a good job of gathering customer data but they are falling short when it comes to creating their own insights from that data: "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 defect."

Of all the companies surveyed, only 39% rated their capabilities as 'good' or 'excellent' in predicting a customer's likelihood to purchase, cancel or defect. At the same time, 60% of respondents reported that they treat their customers differently based on an understanding of individual needs. Gilleland explained: "Knowing an individual customer's needs is what enables the company to craft more relevant customer experiences to help improve loyalty."

But even with information that can improve the customer experience, most companies don't yet have the infrastructure to share it effectively. Only 26% of respondents rated their company as 'good' or 'excellent' at distributing intelligence to customer touch-points (the placed where that information can most quickly and easily affect the customer experience). However, only 18% were rated 'good' or 'excellent' at creating individual treatment tracks to help manage the customer experience across all products and channels.

The survey also noted that customer-centricity is growing as a key strategic concept. Companies are beginning to manage organisational performance and customer improvement by incorporating customer metrics as key performance indicators. In fact, 43% of companies rated their customer metrics as 'good' or 'excellent'. Gilleland concluded: "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."

For additional information:
·  Visit SAS at
·  Visit Peppers & Rogers at