Making Customer Experience the Heart of the Enterprise

How Organizations Are Uniting around the Customer in Order to Thrive
Harvard Business Review
How Organizations Are Uniting around the Customer in Order to Thrive

In recent years, the center of gravity in business has shifted from inside the organization out to the customer. This change has taken place as customers have tapped into a world of information and choices about the products and services they consume. At the same time, a growing legion of digital businesses has shown customers in both the consumer and business worlds what a great customer experience (CX) can be: connected, personalized, and seamless.

Improving CX has become a top business priority as a way for companies to attract and hold onto the best customers, including many they didn’t have access to before. CX goes well beyond customer service to encompass everything that goes into how customers perceive their interactions with an organization, from how they navigate the website to how the billing and payment process works. To deliver that complete customer experience, organizations must unite around the customer in ways they’ve never had to before.

In a recent survey of nearly 1,100 executives by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, improving CX was named a top-five business priority by more respondents (58%) than any other priority. FIGURE 1 Yet only 17% rate themselves as CX leaders today, excellent in both customer insight and engagement or excellent in one and good in the other. FIGURE 2 The reason for this discrepancy is that improving CX isn’t as easy as declaring it a strategic priority. It often requires significant organizational, technological, and operational change. Customer-centric organizations have developed a broad and deep commitment to understanding and serving customers.

Key Takeaways

About This Report

“To deliver a great customer experience, your infrastructure must work properly. Your fulfillment must be efficient. No matter how good your product or service is, all touchpoints through the customer journey must come together or the customer experience will be bad.”

Michael Krigsman, CXOTalk

About the Publisher

Harvard Business Review Analytic Services is an independent commercial research unit within Harvard Business Review Group, conducting research and comparative analysis on important management challenges and emerging business opportunities. Seeking to provide business intelligence and peer-group insight, each report is published based on the findings of original quantitative and/or qualitative research and analysis. Quantitative surveys are conducted with the HBR Advisory Council, HBR’s global research panel, and qualitative research is conducted with senior business executives and subject matter experts from within and beyond the Harvard Business Review author community. Email us at

Publish Date

August 2021