(With Victoria Manes)

Obsession is a strong word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. At Forrester, we use the word deliberately, even provocatively, when we talk about customer obsession, exactly because we want to evoke a strong reaction. We want to provoke action.

Customers Are (Still) Changing Fast

Ever since I joined Forrester, I’ve been writing and presenting on how customer behaviour is changing ever more rapidly, Well, it’s still true. For instance, 65% of UK online adults said they are “always willing to do or try new things,” and 71% of French online adults have used chat for commerce at least once. That’s why customer obsession is more important than ever. And by this, I don’t just mean doing everything your customer wants. Customer obsession starts with deeply understanding your customers’ needs and flows through to aligning your business operations to serve them profitably. Yes, profitably … customer-obsessed B2C firms demonstrate 1.8 times the profit growth of non-customer-obsessed firms.

European Firms Are Catching Up

Our customer obsession maturity assessment clusters firms into five categories, from customer-naïve to customer-obsessed, based on three factors: leadership, operations, and strategy.

In 2022, European firms were lagging behind compared to their global peers in their customer obsession maturity. But our 2023 data shows that the proportion of customer-obsessed and customer-committed firms in Europe has increased significantly in the last year. European firms are catching up, with Italian firms the most customer-obsessed, followed by Spain.

Customer Obsession Pays Dividends

We know that customer obsession pays. We can show that customer-obsessed B2C firms see 1.8x the revenue growth and twice the market share growth of their non-customer-obsessed rivals. But the benefits are wider. European executive decision-makers from customer-obsessed and customer-committed firms tell us that they:

  • Are optimistic about the future. They see stronger customer relationships, more innovation, and more profitability.
  • Use empathy and understanding to create loyalty. They succeed in understanding their customers’ needs, create advocates, and win long-term loyalty.
  • Innovate fast. They shorten the time between ideas and action, prioritise based on customer needs, and adopt new technologies compared to their competitors.

In our upcoming event, CX EMEA 2023 on 10–11 May in London, we will be awarding our first EMEA Customer-Obsessed Enterprise Award. We’ve had some very strong submissions, and our winner will be there to share the story of their journey toward customer obsession and show the benefits that it brings. We’d love to see you at the event.