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Call it the customer experience failure: Improving the customer experience is a top priority for a majority of companies, yet according to recent research, only 10 percent of companies surveyed are truly “customer centric.”
At first glance, the news looks good for consumers and business buyers: Improving the customer experience (CX) is a top priority in a majority of companies. According to a recent study by Forrester, more than 90 percent of senior executives say that improving CX is a “top strategic priority” for their companies. Also, a 2014 study by the Temkin Group indicates that 90 percent of North American firms surveyed aspire to be “customer experience leaders” within the next three years.
Unfortunately, a closer look reveals the rest of the story: The Temkin Group report shows that, despite their aspirations, only 10 percent of companies surveyed are “truly customer-centric.” Furthermore, the Forrester study concludes that “a majority of firms will show up ill-prepared to achieve their customer experience leadership goals.”
Perhaps there would be less cause for alarm if the results of these studies were exceptional, but they are not.
Scores on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) have dropped to their lowest levels in nine years. After reaching a peak in 2013 (the high watermark of the ACSI), scores have declined in every sector except e-commerce and e-business. The aggregate ACSI is now very near the baseline of 1994, and five sectors scored lower than their first year of measurement: energy, information, manufacturing/durable goods, manufacturing/nondurable goods, and finance and insurance.
Taken together, these trends and findings beg a simple question: If companies really believe that improving CX is such a top priority, why aren’t more of them seeing real gains in customer satisfaction?
Authors: Lawrence A. Crosby is the recently retired dean of the Drucker School of Management and serves as president of L.A. Crosby & Associates Inc. Randall Brandt is the founder and principal of Voice Crafter, a Cincinnati-based research and consulting firm, and instructor for the AMA’s training series, “Interpreting the Voice of Your Customer: Listen, Learn, Act.” For more of the latest in marketing news, please visit www.ama.org.