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Strategic Benchmarking

Dilbert strip
 
We’ve had a number of posts on how to obtain benchmark scores (see here, here and here). This post won’t address these issues, but will instead focus on the point so perfectly encapsulated in this Dilbert comic strip. As you can tell from my last blog, I’ve been browsing Dilbert comics lately. (I’d love to tackle Calvin and Hobbes next, but I’m not ready for the deep philosophical stuff right now).

Comparing your customer perceptions to the perceptions of other companies is commonly referred to as "benchmarking" in customer survey research and customer experience management (CEM). In a broader sense, however, benchmarking is understood to be the process of identifying and adapting practices and processes from other organizations that will lead to better performance.

Instead of just focusing on catching up in those areas where scores of your customers lag farthest behind the scores of other companies, we need to be strategically focused on how our companies need to differentiate themselves. Customer perceptions can then be used to validate progress on key initiatives and even to help identify companies outside our industries we can learn from. This approach helps us avoid wasting effort on improving performance in areas that have no impact on customer behavior.

At the end of the day, we do NOT want customers to say, "You are better than your competitor at this, but your competitor is better at the things that matter to me." We want them to say, "Since you are better than everyone at this, I will enhance my business with you." That’s the result of true strategic benchmarking.

Troy Powell, Ph.D.
Vice President
Walker Information
 

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