I keep hearing that Customer Experience, or Customer CX as those in the know call it, is the latest battleground in the fight for customers and market share.
When companies talk about Customer CX they usually talk about how customers experience their companies, their customer journey, and the customer service that they experience throughout many touchpoints customers have with the company.
Many spend million putting strategies in place to improve the customer experience in an attempt to retain customers and to increase their market share.
But is this the right thing to be focused on?
Maybe not when you look at the performance of these two companies:
Subway has been lauded by many as offering a great customer experience and yet has encountered revenue decline problems. Losing 4.3% in 2015 and a similar amount the year before, and yet ranked 12/294 on the Temkin Customer Experience Survey.
They provide an excellent customer experience and yet revenue is dropping.
Whereas Spirit, an airline which has regularly come towards the bottom of every customer experience measured, is one of the most profitable brands in its sector and is gaining market share.
They ranked 284/294 on the Temkin survey and still reported 2016 Q1 revenues of $538.1m which was a 9.1% increase on the previous year.
When you take a closer look at Spirit and the feedback from customers regarding their experience it evokes a lot of negative emotion.
"Never again" is phrase that you hear a lot.
They are one of the most disliked airline brands in America.
They rank at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the lowest Net Promoter Score and have, by far, the greatest number of customer complaints.
Market research company Fraction did a Twitter survey of 70 airline brands, evaluating 1.3 million tweets and as far as customer experience is concerned, Spirit came out rock bottom. Nobody did worse.
Surprisingly, Spirit are not alone when it comes to companies who offer a poor experience yet still manage to increase market share and profits, so how can this be?
I asked Charles Bennett, Chief Customer Officer at Customer Experience World, if there was any explanation for what was going on here.
"Companies still believe great customer experience is one of the main success factors for great business performance, yet only 3% of Companies are succeeding in Customer CX, in the eyes of their customer?"
"Customer Experience in business today is like icing on a cake - the icing makes the cake taste better, but it does not fundamentally change the cake or its basic ingredients."
"So what's the missing factor?
It's all about customer outcome - which is part of what I term the new wave of customer experience thinking. Now this doesn't mean that companies should now switch all of their focus to customer outcomes, but it has to play a much bigger part.
To be more successful businesses need to adapt to a new way of doing Business Process Management through Outside-In thinking.
Where Outside-In thinking is a way of managing an organization by understanding and delivering Successful Customer Outcomes PLUS the experience associated with those outcomes."
If you want to increase revenues and market shares, then you need to be focused on improving the cake as well as adding the icing.
One of the challenges with this is understanding exactly what outcomes the customer is looking for because often they themselves will lump experience in with outcome when asking them what they are looking for.
It can be quite an involved process to fully understand outcome, but for those companies that can get this right and ensure that they deliver both the outcome, and the experience, they will be well positioned for both success and continued growth.