A notable study by Bain and Company in 2005 revealed that 80 percent of companies reported delivering “superior” value to their customers (a number that is automatically suspect when juxtaposed against the meaning of the word “superior”). The same study showed that only eight percent of customers of those companies agreed.
More recently, in 2017, a CapGemini study found that 75 percent of executives believed their companies to be “customer-centric”, while only 30 percent of consumers agreed. The disconnect, CapGemini said, was especially heightened in the U.S. and the U.K..
“The disparity between how a customer perceives its suppliers and how suppliers perceive themselves is an age-old problem. Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of cloud consultancy THINKstrategies, told DMN after reviewing the report. “In today’s more competitive marketplace, in which customers have a wider array of supplier options, the suppliers can no longer afford to have a distorted self-image that can lead to significant customer dissatisfaction and abandonment.”
Close examination of a report by GigaOm, the emerging tech research firm, indicates that this age-old problem remains alive and well — and, moreover, that the U.S. and U.K. continue to “lead” in this area.
The report, sponsored by Colt Technology Services, highlights responses from a survey of 358 enterprise-IT “decision-makers” across all levels of management on the relationship between connectivity and customer experience (CX). It drives home the point about the persistence of the problem when reporting what respondents say when asked how they measure their service suppliers from a CX perspective (allowing respondents to choose multiple options). The overwhelmingly most popular factor by which respondents reported judging their service suppliers, coming in at 47 percent, was “Time from ordering to delivering a service”. When asked how they measure themselves from a CX perspective, however, “Time from ordering to delivering a service” was only the fourth-most commonly important factor (out of nine), at 36 percent.
“Initial service performance and reliability” as a factor, meanwhile, closely tracked, as the second-most popularly important factor for judging suppliers (about 46 percent) and as the most popularly important factor for judging one’s own company (also about 46 percent). GigaOm and Colt recognize the two aforementioned factors as “initial service delivery” factors”.
Conversely, the second-most common factor by which respondents reported measuring their own CX can-do was instead a responsiveness factor — “conformity to service level agreement (SLA) over time”, at more than 43 percent. Meanwhile, only 35 percent reported substantially judging their own suppliers’ CX by that factor.
“Further down the list from a supplier perspective are ‘responsiveness factors,’ such as ‘conformity to service levels over time’ and ‘time to resolution following a service incident’ (35 percent and 33 percent),” reads the report. “[S]uch factors can never redeem a service that is poorly performing at the outset.”
In other words, IT decision-makers are holding themselves to a different CX standard than what they hold their own suppliers to. Worse, according to GigaOm’s own report, the standard to which they hold themselves is a lower and less important one.
Moreover, US and UK respondents were far less likely to report that they were “already there” in leveraging connectivity to enhance CX as compared to their brethren respondents — from France and Germany, respectively.
In the case of Germany, the report demonstrates a possible connection between performance and self-awareness. GigaOm and Colt point out that centralized enterprises similarly were more likely to report greater success in using connectivity to enhance CX — and, moreover, that most German respondents worked at centralized enterprises. It is not hard to see how a centralized infrastructure and org-chart may enhance the communication needed to ensure that everyone knows just how good (and bad) a job they are doing.
Indeed, board members — perhaps the most removed decision-makers in a given company — were far more likely to report that their organizations were doing a good job than their underling executives.
The upshot? That while leveraging connectivity for the customer’s sake alone may improve CX, so too may enhancing internal connectivity. This would make sure that all players are on the same page when it comes to satisfying and delighting the customer; i.e., treating customers the way the company itself wants to be treated — as a customer — by its own suppliers.