Benchmarking to Achieve Customer Centricity

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“Customer centricity” is the watchword of customer experience (CE) today. But determining how customer centricity should be designed and executed remains a challenge.

This is a lot easier said than done. One area in particular that reflects this challenge is CE benchmarking.

One of the most common shortcomings in internal CE benchmarking studies has been reliance on comparison to competitors within an industry, when instead comparison would be more effective when made to best-in-class companies across industries.

Companies rely on internal as well as external research, including third-party proprietary or syndicated studies. However, whatever index you use, be it NPS, J.D. Power, Skytrax, ACI-ASQ, or an internal index, you also need to consider how the customers themselves make their comparisons.

If I am a Rogers wireless customer, I am likely not a Bell or Telus wireless customer and therefore would not be comparing my experience at Rogers with Bell or Telus. I may look at reviews and talk with friends, but I will not have firsthand knowledge. The same principle can apply to personal bank accounts, car insurance and other services. So, to be customer centric in CE benchmarking, a company must think about what the customer is comparing their experience to.

A bank should benchmark its mobile experience against best-in-class or, even better, against next-in-class, mobile experiences across industries, because the customer will be comparing for example the ease of use of their bank’s mobile app with the ease of use of their wireless mobile app. Customers will compare the speed of their transaction on the car insurance web channel to that of the speed of transaction with Expedia or other providers that are very fast to complete a need with. Customers will compare the effort in the support search engine of their provider with the effort in Google’s search engine. They will do the same with bot support particularly using AI driven. It also happens of course when comparing natural language support.

As we design the CE benchmarking strategy, it remains important to compare to industry competitors, but be careful about this not becoming the justification for erosion in the true customer-centric measure of the customer’s experience.

It is of considerable value to benchmark outside the industry, across business dimensions and against key factors and attributes or drivers of CE excellence. To be truly customer centric, you need to find out what the customer is comparing to and then benchmark against that across business dimensions, channels, touchpoints, and value stream segments, irrespective of industry.

Ultimately the closer you are to the true measure of customer experience the greater the opportunity to impact your relationship with the customer, ultimately impacting business outcomes.

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Vafa AkhavanThis article was written by Vafa Akhavan, instructor for SEEC’s Achieving Excellence in Customer Experience (CX) Management program (running Feb. 8 – 10, 2021 in the Virtual Classroom).

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