In preparation for my speeches in London and Stockholm, I examined the responses from our Q4 2009 customer experience survey of executives which was the basis for my research on North American companies called The State Of Customer Experience, 2010.

It turned out that there were 53 responses from Western European firms with annual income of at least $150 million. While this was not a large enough sample size for me to publish in a research report, it was certainly interesting enough for me to present during my speeches. So I thought I’d share some of the data here.

First of all, there’s definitely a lot of interest in customer experience in Europe. Forty-seven of the respondents said that customer experience was either critical or very important to their firm’s 2010 strategy and, as you can see below, three-quarters of the respondents said that there company is trying to differentiate itself with customer experience. 

Only 6% of the respondents said that they had a very disciplined approach to customer experience management. Here’s what they identified as major obstacles for improving customer experience:

  • Lack of a clear customer experience strategy (53%)
  • Lack of customer experience management processes (53%)
  • Lack of cooperation across organizations (43%)
  • Lack of budget (26%)
  • Lack of understanding about customers (40%)
  • Lack of urgency (21%)
  • Lack of executive involvement (17%)

Here are some customer experience activities that are underway:

  • A single set of customer feedback scores that are used across the company (62%)
  • An executive in charge of improving customer experience across products and channels (42%)
  • A companywide program focused on improving customer experience across channels (40%)
  • A voice of the customer program (43%)

As a part of the survey, respondents completed our Experience-Based Differentiation self-test. It turns out that less than one-third of the companies demonstrated six of the customer experience competencies:

  • Employees across the company share a consistent and vivid image of target customers (15%)
  • Decision-making processes systematically incorporate the needs of target customers (25%)
  • Employees across the company are recognized and rewarded for improving the experience of target customers (28%)
  • The quality of interactions with target customers is closely monitored (28%)
  • Our company’s brand drives how we design customer experiences (30%)
  • Primary research is used to fully understand the needs and behaviors of target customers (32%)

The bottom line: Many European companies have started their customer experience journey.