Gartner and 1to1 Media recently announced their 2010 CRM Excellence Awards. The two winners for customer experience were Sprint and CIGNA — congratulations to both organizations!
My take: These winners are not a surprise. I highlighted Sprint as one of the companies that had improved the most in Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index. Both firms are on very aggressive customer experience journeys being led by two of the strongest customer experience executives in the industry — Jerry Adriano (Sprint) and Ingrid Lindberg (CIGNA).
Customer experience transformation isn’t easy; it takes a lot more than a few superficial changes. As I’ve highlighted in recent research, companies that want to build customer experience differentiation need to master 4 competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness. That’s why these efforts require strong leaders like Adriano and Lindberg.
To understand the impact of leadership, I took another look at the data from our May 2010 survey of large North American companies. For this analysis, I compared the companies that had a senior executive in charge of customer experience for at east 6 months with all of the other firms in the survey. Here are the major obstacles identified by each group:
What jumps out from this data is that companies without a senior executive in charge of customer experience suffer from a lack a clear strategy. There’s a 32 percentage point gap between the two groups in that area.
Here are some of other things that I found interesting:
- All companies suffer from competing priorities
- Companies without customer experience leaders are 10+ percentage points more likely to run into several problems associated with starting their journey:
- Lack of a clear strategy
- Lack of incentives and rewards
- Wrong people or organizations leading the effort
- Lack of important skills
- Companies with customer experience leaders run into more problems as they start to make changes:
- Limited funding
- Conflict across organizations
The bottom line: Customer experience takes leadership