Customer experience

How companies can hang on to their customers

November 1, 2011: 12:34 PM ET

Despite spending significant sums on studying and improving customer experience, many companies are simply not seeing the customer loyalty they want.

By Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance

FORTUNE -- What company doesn't want customers to have a positive reaction when they think about doing business with it?

But despite spending significant sums on studying and improving customer experience, many companies are simply not seeing results, according to a recent survey of 8,000 customer experience professionals in 2,160 companies globally by consultancy Beyond Philosophy. The findings provide a road map any company can use to court new and repeat customers.

According to Steven Walden, research director at Beyond Philosophy, companies in retail, banking, technology, and telecommunications tend to spend the most on so-called customer experience initiatives. Yet of the top 10 spenders, only one made a top 10 list of successes, according to the survey.

What are companies doing right and, just as importantly, what are they doing wrong?

'Lipstick on a pig'

HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) are two of the top 10 spenders on customer experience – and they do a fair job, but not what you would expect based on the cost and effort, Walden argues. What haven't they figured out?

Both companies provide a standard product that "does what it says on the tin," Walden says. They both have big organizations and spend dollars on thinking about the customer, but this is mainly from the perspective of usability, functionality, and fixing what's broken. From a customer perspective, "there's no wow there," Walden says, it's more about "putting lipstick on a pig." More

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