Although close examination of each market and customer segment reveals different bundles of drivers for customer value there are a number of common themes. Here we outline some key principles that appear to deliver exceptional levels of customer loyalty while enhancing brand equity in the long term.

Customer value means always delivering against the key functional and emotional needs of target segment customers throughout their experience journey. However these are simply the table stakes. Adding value should also make it easier for customers to navigate the brand experience and for them to find the interaction rewardingly elegant.

Enhanced value is delivered when customer’s interactions leave them feeling great about their experiences and individually validated in the choices they made. Adding value will leave the customer feeling empowered and encouraging them to believe they will continue to benefit from an on-going brand relationship and wanting to remain connected.

Many organisations have firmly established customer centricity within their DNA. Apple, Amazon and Southwest Airlines are textbook examples of organisations who believe customer experience is their business and look to consistently delight, surprise and excel customers in everything they do.

Whilst each of these organisations has taken a different route to reach their customer value goals, there remains a number of common guiding principles:

1. It is the customer not the company that decides expectations have been exceeded. Extracting and appraising customer feedback at each stage of the consumer journey at both a rational and emotional level is key to gaining insight to where innovation effort should be directed.

2. Everything is relative. What might be considered extraordinary today will be hygiene factor table stakes tomorrow. Plan for obsolesce and innovate consistently to remain ahead.

3. Expectations can be shifted overnight by competitor initiatives. Scan for signals of change and market tensions in your own sectors but also across strategic groups and categories. Include market screening for significant competitor partnering, financial tie-ups, cross category senior hires and new brand and product technology acquisitions and patent submissions.

4. Customer value can be enhanced at any point within the value chain. To optimise effort and resources use targeted customer journey research across your customer segments to highlight where disproportionate customer value benefit can be leveraged.

5. Watching customer focussed innovations deliver across the business can sometimes encourage senior management to view it as a panacea for poor corporate performance. Managers should be discouraged from viewing customer centricity initiatives as a fix-all strategy tool to resuscitate areas of the business when the source of the problem is unclear.

6. Sustainable customer centric strategies involve trade-offs. Adding the maximum possible value at each conceivable interaction point might achieve a highly desirable NPS score but will severely dent the company’s profitably. Adding and capturing value must always be considered in tandem with the company’s return on investment targets