Peter Drucker famously said that “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer”; something that’s widely supported but less widely delivered. Under relentless earnings pressure, the reality is that customers can become the victim to managers’ attempts to generate quick profit. Sadly, such short-termism erodes loyalty, reducing the value customers create.

There’s no contradiction between customer delight and shareholder return, just the opposite - earning customer loyalty is firmly in the interests of both shareholders and management. Companies at the top of their industry in satisfaction rankings for 3 or more years grow revenues roughly 2.5 times as fast as their industry peers and deliver 2 to 5 times the shareholder returns over the next 10 years*.

So, tracking customer centricity is crucial, it’s just not an end in itself: having the data is one thing, knowing what to do with it takes leadership and some organisational rewiring.

How so? Well, there’s certainly no shortage of tools in place to measure the experience and to deep-dive into root cause; most customer-facing organisations already track the experience, measure satisfaction and monitor KPIs. And with the digital shift, it’s never been easier to get rapid deep-dive customer feedback, whether that’s through surveys, pop-up communities or long-term community panels.

Where this can all fall over is in the lack of connectedness: programmes are set up that, without even noticing, become silos. They serve their masters, each doing the job they set out to do - they are the sum of their parts, just no greater.

However, by combining CX tracking with deep-dive research, a path to action emerges - a new way-of-working that embeds connection between CX measurement and root-cause analysis.

Taking a real-world example:

  • From event-triggered surveys, coinciding with a branch closure program in city centres, a UK retail bank sees a drop in NPS from 8 to 6 over 3 months
  • Analysis shows that it’s new customers, urban and upscale, who are increasingly Detractors
  • Customer data regularly fed into the Community allows a look-a-like group of customers to be messaged in an instant – they’re already pre-recruited, profiled and engaged
  • Customers with these same characteristics are brought together in an online discussion to thrash out the issues driving discontent
  • Videos of their real-life experiences illustrate the pain-points and identify the best solutions around account set-up and onboarding

The result? Insight teams have both the broad KPI view (from the CX tracker) and possible solutions from the Community, leading to a plan for clearer support and more hand-holding for new customers when they’re setting up accounts.

T-shaped research promotes a deep learning loop

T-Shaped Research Diagram

What does it take to get to the why behind the KPI?

  1. Greater connectivity between customer, marketing and insight. Breaking down the silos to make ‘measure and diagnose’ one frictionless process - the increasing prominence of the Chief Customer Officer is a big step in the right direction here.
  2. A more systematic approach. Mandate the data exchange so a feed of customer data and segments is regularly appended to the Community. When this is not regular, deep dives use proxy data sets, creating more noise.
  3. Knowledge management. Adoption of insight hubs that can wrap CX trackers and community data into one place, democratising the enterprise-wide use of the data and reporting through dashboards that are fed from both data sources.
  4. Tech-led proactivity. Pre-configure the patterns of interest – setting up alerts, so that the changes are flagged as they arrive. This can simply sign-off processes and reduce delays in deciding each time whether the issue is important or one-off.

The leap into T-Shaped, iterative learning is there for the taking - all the pieces are laid out inviting us to “create and keep (and even delight) customers” for the long term.

* Source ‘The Ultimate Question 2.0. How Net Promoter Companies thrive in a customer-driven world’. Fred Riechheld and Bain & Company (HBR)