Eighty percent of marketing decision makers say that improving their customers’ experience is their top priority (it falls second place to “grow revenue” in popularity — 87% of marketing leaders call that their top imperative), yet our research shows that customer experiences (CX) aren’t getting better — even though there seems to be increased emphasis (and investment) on CX. In our new research, “Value For Customers: The Four Dimensions That Matter,” my colleague Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian and I figured out why. Most companies have no idea if they are creating value for their customers. They can emphasize customer experience all they want, but without emphasizing customer value, even good customer experiences don’t deliver.

Companies tend to care a lot about the value they get from their customers: What is that customer’s lifetime value? How do we get customers to convert at a higher rate? How can we make more people buy at full price? But they’ve lost sight of the reason they are in business at all: the value that they offer to their customers. Most firms:

  • Have no clear definition of “value.” Not having a clear, shared definition of value prevents an organization from rallying stakeholders around the concept.
  • Obsess about features, not the value customers gain from them. Engineers and product designers load up products with as many features as possible rather than what’s needed — adding complexity but not necessarily value.
  • See only parts of the whole. Different departments’ views on what drives customer value remind us of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. As a result of these disparate views, efforts to drive value fail.
  • Misjudge what their customers value most (and least). Not offering customers what they want or offering them things they don’t want leads to costly errors.

In our research, we define value as a customer’s perception of what they get versus what they give up.

We find that value has four dimensions: functional, economic, experiential, and symbolic. But value is not constant and will vary by person and context.

Use our report to determine what your customers value in which situations and how you can differentiate by providing the value your best customers want.