Deconstructing ‘Customer Experience’

Legendary Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt warned his students and industry executives against “marketing myopia”—that is, adopting an insular marketing approach where the business puts its own needs ahead of the customers’.

Over the last decade, Levitt’s thinking has evolved to the concept of the “customer experience,” essentially the ability to capture customer loyalty and promote evangelism by offering top-notch service and a delightful experience at every interaction, from browsing products on a retailer’s website to returning a product to the store. Back in 2010, according to market researcher Gartner, 36 percent of businesses said they competed mostly on the basis of customer experience. By 2016, that number had risen to 89 percent.

Here are insights and research created at Harvard Business School on improving the customer experienced what happens when you don’t.

A Good Place to Start

Terror at the Taj
Under terrorist attack, employees of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower bravely stayed at their posts to help guests. A multimedia case study looks at the hotel’s customer-centered culture and value system.

How to Design a Better Customer Experience
With the help of LEGO bricks, business executives discover how design principles can serve as building blocks to create a great customer experience.

How Independent Bookstores Have Thrived in Spite of
Indy booksellers have survived brutal competition by developing personal relationships with customers.

Fix This! Why is it so Painful to Buy a New Car?
Car-buying sends shivers up the backbones of American consumers, so why hasn’t the industry stepped up to create a better experience?

Amazon vs. Whole Foods: When Cultures Collide
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods seemed a Wall Street dream come true. But then Amazon’s data-driven efficiency met the customer-driven culture at Whole Foods—and the shelves began to empty.

How an Order Views Your Company
Managers should imagine the customer is watching as their order moves through the company.

Customers at the Back of the Line Are Anxious—Can You Keep Them from Leaving?
The irrational anxiety associated with being last in line can lead to unhappy customers, but there are ways to make them happier while they wait.

The Outside-In Approach to Customer Service
How companies can evolve through four levels to become more customer-centric.

Thinking Twice About Supply-Chain Layoffs
Cutting the wrong employees can be counterproductive for retailers, One suggestion: Pay special attention to staff who handle mundane tasks such as stocking and labeling. Your customers do.

Starbucks’ Lessons for Premium Brands
When Starbuck’s encountered growing pains in 2007, founder Howard Schultz realized its unique customer experience was broken.

The State of Customer Service Leadership
The economic future of the country is largely in the hands of those who lead our service organizations, which create more employment and GDP growth than any other sector.

Break Your Addiction to Service Heroes
It’s possible for organizations to reduce costs while dramatically enhancing customer service. The key? Don’t try to be good at everything.

Research Papers

Mitigating the Negative Effects of Customer Anxiety through Access to Human Contact
The impact of customer anxiety on service relationships is neither well understood, nor consistently factored into service design.

How Do Incumbents Fare in the Face of Increased Service Competition?
When does increased service quality competition lead to customer defection, and which customers are most likely to defect?

Image: iPhoto

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