Back in 2005, Bain and Company released a report entitled: Closing the Delivery Gap: How to Achieve True Customer-Led Growth. It was a fine report with plenty of good lessons for customer experience, but it was the statistic upon which it was based that has lived on far past the shelf life of the report itself.
Bain surveyed 362 firms and found the following:
80% of organizations believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers; however, only 8% of customers felt the same way.
Bain described this differential as the “delivery gap.”
So, why, in my humble opinion, is the 80/8 stat the greatest customer service statistic the world has ever known?
Because customer experience and customer service speakers, authors, bloggers, consultants, trainers and the like have been repeating the statistic ever since.
It doesn’t matter what their focus is, what services they offer, or what their approach is. The statistic helps them tell organizational leaders, in a non-personalized way, that they might not be the best anecdotal judge of how their CX is performing
Now, the 80/8 statistic is not great because it has been repeated; it is great because the delivery gap is real. If you work in customer experience in any capacity, you’ve likely met far too many people — from executives to line supervisors — who thought their team’s service was great.
And though occasionally, this is the case; all too often the gap is as real a the Bain study found.
The stat is powerful because it gives those of us trying to help others improve their customer experience a nice way to tell organizational leaders that their perspective as service deliverers might not be the best lens for evaluating the experiences of the service receivers.
The 80/8 stat is about making a case for objectively evaluating the customer journey.
It is about getting organizational and team leaders to see their service delivery clearly and honestly, no matter how they choose to solve it.
Pointing out this gap is not only useful to consultants, speakers, and the like, but can be a powerful tool for internal stakeholders to make the case that perhaps what the company thinks and what its customers think are not aligned. It can be used as a spur to motivate leaders to invest in exploring any potential delivery gaps.
The power of the 80/8 stat is that it is foundational. If the first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging you have one, then the 80/8 stat is a wedge that helps pry open the minds or leadership teams to taking a sober look at their service delivery.
And whether or not you think this is the greatest customer service statistic in the world, I think if it continues to open doors and minds to improved service, then we can all agree that it at least deserves a tip of the hat.
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.