Customer obsession — putting customers at the center of leadership, strategy and operations — is critical to business success. Customer-obsessed companies increase revenue, profitability, customer retention, and employee engagement faster than other firms.

The translation of customer obsession into other languages can sometimes cause confusion. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. Forrester uses this word deliberately, even provocatively, to drive action. Putting the customer at the center of your leadership, strategy, and operations enables your company to sense and respond to dynamic market conditions, powering long-term growth, especially in a shaky economic environment.

Based on answers to a set of 20 statements within Forrester’s State Of Customer Obsession Survey, 2023, respondents were categorized into five segments: customer-naive, customer-aware, customer-engaged, customer-committed, and customer-obsessed.

Across Europe, we found that:

  • European firms have increased their overall customer obsession maturity. European firms have caught up with their global peers when it comes to customer obsession. In 2023, 42% of European firms fall into the top two maturity levels — customer-committed and customer-obsessed — compared to just 28% in 2022. Peak customer obsession, however, remains a small, select group of 6% of European firms. That’s no surprise — being customer-obsessed is hard and often requires a significant, years-long strategic transformation.
  • Italian firms lead while UK firms lag. Italy leads the way in Europe ,with 54% of firms falling into the top tiers of maturity: customer-obsessed and customer-committed. Just over half of UK firms fall into the midlevel maturity segment, customer-engaged, and proportionally more UK firms are within the least customer-obsessed segments compared to their European peers.

Customer-Obsessed Firms Use Empathy To Create Value For Customers

To efficiently and consistently create value for customers, and therefore drive business value, firms must understand customer needs and create empathetic customer connections. Executives at customer-obsessed firms in Europe unanimously agree that their firms have a strong understanding of what their customers want from them. These firms prioritize customer needs when making product or process decisions.

Customer-Obsessed Firms Are More Optimistic About The Future

Executives at customer-committed and customer-obsessed firms across Europe are more likely to be optimistic about their firm’s prospects than their peers at less customer-obsessed firms. By continuing with their current strategy and management approach, executives at customer-obsessed firms in Europe believe that their firms will build and maintain stronger customer relationships, increase profitability, and out-innovate their competitors.

For more detail, check out Forrester’s latest report, The State Of Customer Obsession In Europe, 2023.