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Executive Interviews: Interview with Christopher Meyer on Customer Centric Organisations
December 2010 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary


Christopher Meyer
Christopher Meyer
Chairman
Strategic Alignment Group

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    Now let's leap forward. Globalization increasingly requires manufacturing companies to design and deliver products for locations far beyond their home base. For example, agriculture equipment used in the wheat fields of Europe, US, and India all have to plant, harvest and transport grain. If customer experience didn't matter, then the same equipment would be used across the globe. We know that's not true. John Deere learned that square bumpers are required on tractors in India because tractors also transport people in rural areas and it's more comfortable to sit on a flat surface than a round tube.

    What makes customer experience critical to all industries is that at the end of the day, the purchaser is a human being. Our journey through life can be thought of as a series of experiences. Therefore, the question for manufacturers is not whether experience is important but which customer experiences will put you on top once the basic requirements are met.

  • Is there any relationship between companies ranked highly in different customer satisfaction indices and customer-centricity? Customer satisfaction being the effect, what could have been the traditional causes of satisfaction and how can customer experience management be the new cause of customer satisfaction?
    Customer satisfaction and customer experience are often used interchangeably. Customer experience is the experience a customer has with your company through direct and indirect contact. Customer satisfaction is a judgment that people make based on that experience relative to their expectations. The only way to change customer satisfaction is to set different expectations or deliver a better experience.

    The real question is: have the experiences that drive customer satisfaction changed? I'd suggest that in most cases, ATMs do a better job than bank tellers. They're available 24 hours a day, fast, accurate and often located much more conveniently than a bank. At the same time, Starbucks and the corner cafés win by providing a social setting augmented with food. That's hardly new.

    I'd make this observation. Digital technology and the Internet have had a huge impact on customer experience and satisfaction. The underlying technologies improve by a factor of 2 within a year or two. Soon, we'll have disposable devices costing less than a cup of coffee with more computing power than the first PC. Compare that to the pace of human evolution. Our DNA is hardly different from our ancestors and while human lifetimes are extending, not nearly at the rate technology advances.

    Customer experience lives and breathes because it's part of the human condition. Therefore the core needs of people for shelter, safety, belonging, and self-actualization remain the foundation.

  • Can there be any plausible relationship between customer satisfaction rankings and best companies to work for?
    Yes, but I don't know of any definitive research. My experience is that if an employee's work experience is not very good, the chances of providing customers with a great experience is unlikely. There have been some consulting studies that have positively correlated internal employee satisfaction scores with external scores such as NetPromoter.

  • What according to you is customer lifetime value and how can better customer experience management aid in improving the customer lifetime value?
    Good customers are likely to be growing customers. By growing, I mean that they run their business in such a way that it continues to grow as they grow their business with you. We see this often with startups here in Silicon Valley. Not only do customers grow their business with you but it lowers marketing costs as well as the startup costs associated with a new customer. In short, loyal customers are more profitable. Additionally, they are the best source of referrals which in many cases is more valuable than their own revenue.

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