Sales and marketing

How To Launch Customer Obsession


Since 2010, you've heard Forrester beating our customer obsessed drum. It is our idea that in The Age of the Customer, your relationship with your customers are your primary competitive differentiator. We've written a lot about how to put the customer at the center of your total operating model. But a total customer-obsessed transformation can be daunting because of the completeness it requires.

Many companies we talk to get overwhelmed at the idea of having to change every single part of their business, so they do nothing instead. How could we offer a wedge into the customer obsessed transformation? Could companies start toward customer obsession more easily if they understood where they are starting from?

We believed yes. So we created The Customer Obsession Assessment, a large quantitative survey, which included myriad statements related to customer service, customer experience, customer relationships, supporting technologies and sent it out to just over 1000 global executives.

Then we applied factor analysis and regression analysis to determine which statements most closely correlated with customer obsession. From this effort we created:

  1. An assessment that companies could take to determine their customer obsession maturity;
  2. A segmentation of the execs who took our study so that we could identify best practices and pitfalls common at each stage in maturity.

Customer Obsession: What We Discovered

A few findings from the research:

  • Most companies are still immature.  Overall, our sample distributed into a bell curve, with 62% landing in the bottom least mature segments.
  • Good things come from customer obsession.  Employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth all improve as companies become more customer obsessed.
  • Everyone -- even customer obsessed firms -- have some to-dos.  Customer Naive firms, the least customer obsessed companies, should invoke a turn around.  Customer Aware companies, the next more mature segment should push past operational biases.  Customer Committed firms, the third level in our maturity segmentation, must accelerate their customer-centric activities.  And Customer Obsessed firms, the most mature companies we evaluated, must work to sustain their current customer-centric efforts for the long haul.

Wondering how mature you are right now with customer obsession compared to your peers and competitors? Take the assessment now. Or post a comment here for me. We can chat about how this assessment can help launch a larger roadmap for you.

Shar VanBoskirk is VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, where she serves chief marketing officers (CMOs). Read more Forrester blogs here.