When I was working on the research for “How To Build Your Company’s Customer Obsession Strategy,” I decided that customer obsession was the good idea that everyone agreed with but no one knows how to do. Just 15% of enterprise firms are customer obsessed today. This isn’t because executives disagree with the idea of putting the customer at the center of business decisions. Everyone nods along to that notion! The problem is that leaders don’t know how to operationalize customer obsession at their firms. Who should do what? How long should it take? What might it cost? Creating a framework that companies could use to answer these questions became the purpose of my research. And my findings now form the basis of Forrester’s new, complimentary eBook, How To Build Your Customer Obsession Strategy. Read this eBook to learn our guidance for crafting the customer obsession strategy that will be right for your firm:

First, not every company will (or should) manifest customer obsession in the same way. Forrester sees three common expressions of customer obsession — “Count on us” (reliability), “At your service” (service), and “On your side” (advocacy) — depending on a company’s strengths and what its customers value. That’s right: You don’t have to offer Zappos-like customer service to be customer obsessed. In fact, indiscriminately scaling customer service can cost millions and work against a brand’s purpose.

Second, model out expected growth from customer obsession improvements. The size and nature of your customer obsession commitment should depend on the returns it will drive. Caterpillar Financial modeled the effects of improved customer loyalty on revenue over five years to size its customer experience (CX) transformation before launch. Crowe invested in satisfying its customers after learning that they buy more and cost less. Mercedes-Benz USA invested in dealer education because a 10% improvement in dealer staff engagement lifted per-dealership sales by $376,000.

Third, align customer obsession with your company operations. Just telling everyone to be nicer to customers won’t necessarily enable a business model pivot, redesign products, or launch new channel partners. But ALL of those things (pivot, product redesign, new channel partners) might be exactly what you need to do in order to create value for your customers. The trick here is to determine what manifestation of obsession you need to have in order to best create value for your customer (“We will become X!”). Then parse that vision into practical building blocks (“To become X, we need to do Y and Z!”). Then use those building blocks to set operational goals for the different functions at your firm (“To make Y and Z real, finance must do this, facilities should do that, engineering will do that thing, and product will do this.”).

Read our eBook for more grit on how to tackle these steps. And then drop me a line. I’m finding that companies pursuing customer obsession in the midst of our current COVID-19 and recession circumstances have an advantage over other firms. I’d love to learn from you how this is proving true.