It occurred to me the other day, as I was watching the GOP primary results come in, that there is a connection between politics and the customer experience. OK, no, I promise I won’t get political here. Remember – the rule is: among friends, don’t talk politics or religion. I abide by the rule, for the most part.

So, how do they relate, you ask? Well, think about this: we keep saying that we want CHANGE in politics. Wasn’t that the whole story around Obama – that he was the change we’d been waiting for? Isn’t that the same story around the GOP primaries – the top candidates propose that they are the change that people are now waiting/hoping for?

Except… people are really afraid to vote for change. If they really wanted change, wouldn’t they vote for someone like Ron Paul or Herman Cain (when he was still in the race)? They are not career politicians. They have views that are perhaps radical, but isn’t that what creates change?

OK, Annette, you’ve gone completely off your rocker. Before you lose me, because you promised not to talk politics or religion with your friends, how does that relate to the customer experience? 

Well, here’s my experience in the VOC/CX world: CEOs don’t really want change. Yes, that’s a bit provocative, but let’s think about this. I don’t believe they accept the fact that the employee experience drives the customer experience, and the customer experience drives the business. Seems the business comes first: sales, marketing, and acquisition are always put ahead of retention. (There are a few exceptions, but why? Why doesn’t everyone have a culture and an experience like Zappos? Or at least try.)

It’s so frustrating to see that the news, blogs, and other social media are filled daily with stories about bad employee experiences and unbelievably awful customer experiences. Companies talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk. Look at these stats and tell me if I’m wrong.

  • 68% of customers leave because they were upset with the treatment they received while speaking to customer service. – US Chamber of Commerce
  • Even in a negative economy, customer experience is a high priority for consumers, with 60% often or always paying more for a better experience. Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report
  • 86% of customers stopped doing business with a company because of a bad experience (up from 59% four years ago).  Harris Interactive
  • 90% of North American firms view customer experience as important or critical to 2010 plans. 80% of firms would like to use customer experience as a form of differentiation. – Forrester’s: The State of Customer Experience 2010
  • Only 12% of current marketing spend is on customer retentionMcKinsey
  • 7% of companies think they are customer experience leaders.  Temkin Group 2011
  • In reality, based on a review of VOC programs, only 2% have reached their highest level of maturity. – Temkin Group 2011
  • 61% of companies want to be at the top of their industry (in customer experience) in three years.  Temkin Group 2011
  • Look at the 2012 Temkin Experience Ratings, and you’ll see very few industries (3 out of 18, to be exact) with “Excellent” ratings, yet if you drill down into those industries, very few companies within those industries earn this top score.

None of those stats speak to real progress being made.

Listen, we have a problem here, and we need to figure out how to fix it. How do we deliver that message? How do we force – and enforce – the change that customers are waiting for and expecting?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. -Charles Darwin