Hubris and Humility

Facing the facts of customer experience have just reported on a customer experience survey conducted by Capgemini with 450 executives and 3,300 consumers across eight countries. Whilst the research base isn’t huge at the country level, it does reveal some interesting findings.

The survey found that, overall, 75% of companies perceived themselves to be customer-centric, but when consumers were asked, only 30% agreed. Not surprising you might think, companies are always going to think well of themselves and customers may jump at the chance to be critical given the opportunity. Whilst that may be true in the aggregate, the detail reveals a far more interesting picture. Of the eight countries surveyed the satisfaction gap was greatest in the UK with a massive 92% of corporates feeling good about their focus on customers whilst a measly 15% of customers agreed that they were.

Contrast that with the results for Asia-Pacific which showed the reverse - with companies awarding themselves 63% for customer-centricity whilst their customers were much more positive with 79% saying that Asian-Pacific companies put customers first.

So what is going on here? The poor rating for UK consumers can’t be all down to moaning Daily Mail readers, just as the more positive results for the Asian consumers can’t just be down to the fact that their cultures are naturally more polite. I think it comes down to hubris and humility.

Think of the appalling behaviour of the UK high-street banks in misselling financial products to consumers. Think also of the annual ratcheting up of premiums by insurance companies when loyal customers automatically renew simply because they can get away with it; and the dire levels of service provided by most utility suppliers in the UK despite the high charges. In fact, of the sectors surveyed, the perception gap between the company executives and consumers was largest for utility companies at 71%. There is arrogance evident in the behaviour of large corporates despite what they may say to the contrary on their websites and in their annual reports.

Consumer and company perception of customer centricity - by geography

Customers and companies out of sync when it comes to customer service

03 August 2017

As a generalization, Asian companies tend to be more concerned with customers than shareholders, more driven by their long-term reputation than their short-term results. This leads to a degree of humility and a feeling that although they strive to do the right thing for customers they can always do better. The Japanese word ‘Kaizen’ sums this up perfectly. It means ‘change for the better’ and refers to the daily pursuit of improvement in all aspects of business.

The irony is that when we focus on doing the right things for customers it often leads to better results anyway. The Capgemini study also found that 81% of consumers reported that they would be prepared to pay more for a better customer experience. How much more? 41% said they would be prepared to pay up to 15% more whilst 32% would consider paying up to a 50% premium for enhanced quality.

So what can we take away from this as business leaders?

1) We judge ourselves by our intent, but others by their actions. It doesn’t matter how much we think we have done to invest in better service, unless our customers actually experience it we are fooling ourselves.

2) Improving the customer experience requires we take a longer-term view of performance and maintain our focus on doing those things which create value for the customer. Shallow campaigns and short-term fixes don’t fool anyone.

3) Consumers will reward us with their readiness to pay more for an improved experience, and their willingness to remain loyal to the brand, if they believe we truly have their interests at heart.

How can you find out just how far along you are in your customer-centric journey? Complete our free ‘CEM Self-Assessment’ here:

For more details of the article and Capgemini research see

|2017-10-26T16:34:06+01:00Aug 10 2017|Blog|

About the Author

Over the last 15 years, Shaun has defined much of the thinking and methodology around customer experience. He continues to speak, write, consult and provokeFind out more

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