Using customer experience to differentiate in a commodity market

Great to see Shell UK being announced as the winner of the Customer Experience category in the Chartered Institute of Marketing awards for 2012. Too often companies complain about operating in a commodity market and being unable to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Shell have broken the mould by considering the whole customer experience and have been able to demonstrate how this can drive sales growth even in the toughest market and competitive conditions.

Too often companies operating in a commodity market see price as the only differentiator instead of looking to see how they can change the market away from the total focus on price. Whilst companies continue to compete on price this will only reinforce consumers’ focus on it, and inevitably drive down profitability. As we have seen in the UK petrol market, this also brings with it a reduction in choice for the customer through the increased closures of petrol forecourts.

Too many companies still fail to see the difference between using price and value as a focal point for differentiation. The utility market has long been in this situation but again there is recent movement suggesting that they may very well look to change. The recently appointed CEO of npower Paul Massara has set the company the target of being number one in customer experience across all markets by 2015.

Helping companies to understand what drives value for their customers has been a key deliverable for Customer Champions since our inception in the 1990s. Let us know your experiences and views.



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