29 January 2007

Harvard Business Review on understanding the customer experience

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“Companies that systematically monitor customer experience can take important steps to improve it—and their bottom line,” argue Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager in the February 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review.

“Because a great many customer experiences aren’t the direct consequence of the brand’s messages or the company’s actual offerings, a company’s reexamination of its initiatives and choices will not suffice. The customers themselves—that is, the full range and unvarnished reality of their prior experiences, and then the expectations, warm or harsh, those have conjured up—must be monitored and probed.”

“Such attention to customers requires a closed-loop process in which every function worries about delivering a good experience, and senior management ensures that the offering keeps all those parochial conceptions in balance and thus linked to the bottom line.”

“This article will describe how to create such a process, composed of three kinds of customer monitoring: past patterns, present patterns, and potential patterns. (These patterns can also be referred to by the frequency with which they are measured: persistent, periodic, and pulsed.) By understanding the different purposes and different owners of these three techniques—and how they work together (not contentiously)—a company can turn pipe dreams of customer focus into a real business system.”

Christopher Meyer is the chairman of Strategic Alignment Group, a consultancy based in Portola Valley, California, that specializes in innovation and time-based competition. He is the author of Fast Cycle Time (Free Press, 1993).
Andre Schwager is a former president of Seagate Enterprise Management Software and a founder of Satmetrix Systems, a customer experience software company based in Foster City, California.

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