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Why Apple and Amazon are CX outliers, not the Norm

Gartner suggests that 89% of businesses plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience this year. But most have a long way to go to catch up with best-in-class firms such as Apple and Amazon, argues MeetTheBoss TV’s Ben Thompson.

Gartner has revealed that 89% of businesses plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience this year. And on the surface, that headline figure is a success story. It says that brands have finally woken up to the idea that the customer is king, and are shifting their organisational mindsets accordingly.

 But here’s a question: once everyone is differentiating on the basis of experience, what’s the real value in doing so? Where’s the point of difference if we’re all the same? Where’s the competitive advantage?

Perhaps that’s the wrong question. Competing on customer experience is not necessarily about creating an advantage long-term. OK, there may be some first-mover benefit to being known for offering great customer service, but once the rest of the 89% get their act together you won’t stay unique for long. The competition will soon catch up. Instead, competing on customer experience is purely about survival: great service will become business as usual, and those who don’t embrace it will fail. It’s that simple.

Now, there’s no way 89% of the interactions I currently have with brands can be considered excellent. Some are, but most aren’t. The majority of firms haven’t yet earned the right to bang the drum on competitive difference.

But the fact that a large majority are now recognising more work (in some cases much more work) is needed to bring customer service levels up to the standards of best-in-class firms such as Amazon and Apple is clearly a good thing. Those firms are the outliers, not the norm. 
The encouraging thing is that so many are seeking emulate them and move customer experience to the top of the corporate agenda.

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