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What is customer obsession?

Last updated

2 April 2023

Reviewed by

Hugh Good

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Customer obsession is a business philosophy that focuses on meeting and exceeding customer needs and expectations. It involves consistently listening to your customer's pain points, desires, and needs to enhance their experience. 

A customer-obsessed company prioritizes:

  • Listening to customers

  • Seeking feedback

  • Adapting to customers' changing needs

This builds lasting relationships with customers, driving long-term success.

How is customer obsession different from customer focus and experience?

Let's look at each of these:

Customer obsession vs. customer focus

Customer focus involves understanding customer needs and delivering products or services that meet those needs. It involves:

  • Analyzing customer data

  • Conducting market research

  • Defining customer segments 

  • Creating customer personas to determine customer preferences

  • Bringing customer preferences to life

Customer obsession takes customer focus to the next level. These companies put customers at the center of all their operations and decision-making processes. 

Unlike customer focus, a customer-obsessed company will change its entire operational model to ensure it delivers value. They design the business with the customer in mind, from product development to marketing strategies. 

In other words, customer focus is about understanding the customer, while customer obsession is about building the business and brand around the customer.

Customer obsession vs. customer experience

Customer experience is the sum of all customer interactions with a company. It includes every touchpoint a customer has with a company, from browsing products or services online to receiving customer support after a purchase. 

A positive customer experience occurs when a company delivers on its promises and meets or exceeds customer expectations at every step.

Customer obsession is the mindset and commitment that drives a positive customer experience.

Why is customer obsession important?

While customers are the most important people for any business, many companies over-focus on their investors and shareholders. Company stakeholders are essential, but customers are the lifeblood of a company. Without them, a business can't survive. 

Customer obsession helps a business in the following ways:

Customer retention

Retaining customers is far more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Loyal customers are more likely to purchase repeatedly. 

A customer-obsessed company will go above and beyond to satisfy its customers, resulting in improved customer retention rates and increased revenue over time.

Customer acquisition

A customer-obsessed company usually has a strong reputation for delivering exceptional customer experiences. This will attract new customers through recommendations. 

With this approach, a company will stand out and build a loyal customer base that drives sustainable growth.

How do you show that you are customer obsessed?

A business can’t suddenly decide to be customer-obsessed overnight. It requires a deep-rooted commitment to putting the customer first.

These are two common core habits among customer-obsessed companies:


Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of your customers. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and see things from their perspective. Listen to their concerns, identify their pain points, and create solutions to their needs.

Empathy helps you create products and services for your customers' preferences rather than simply pushing products onto them.

Building effective customer feedback loops

Effective customer feedback loops create systems that regularly gather feedback from customers. To do this, you could set up channels like:

Analyze the data you generate through these channels to identify areas for improvement. You can also use this strategy to develop new products that better meet your customers' needs.

How to measure customer obsession

As a company, you may believe you’ve built a customer-obsessed culture. But how do you measure it? There are several key metrics you can use to gauge customer obsession, including:

Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

In its simplest form, you can measure CSAT with a single question on a scale of 1–5 or 1–10, with one being very dissatisfied and five or 10 being very satisfied. 

You can ask: 

  • How satisfied are you with our product or service? 

  • How well is our product or service meeting your needs?

  • What value does our product or service give you?

These are great questions to understand the dimensions driving their satisfaction (or lack of)

Net promoter score (NPS)

NPS indicates how much customers like your products or their brand loyalty based on their likelihood to recommend it to others. 

You ask customers a single question: ‘How likely are you to recommend this product (or service) to someone else?’  

Ratings 0–6 are detractors, 7–8 are neutral, and those rating 9–10 are promoters. 

To calculate your NPS, simply subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. 

Any score over 0 is good, above 50 is excellent, and above 80 would put you in the top percentile of companies.

Customer retention rate (CRR)

Customer retention rate (CRR) measures the percentage of returning customers over a specified period. 

To calculate CRR, calculate the difference between the number of customers at the beginning and end of your selected period.

Tracking these metrics and analyzing the results offers valuable insight into how well you’re meeting customer needs. Lower churn suggests better delivery of customer obsession, while higher churn would suggest issues in this area.

Priorities of a customer-obsessed business

A popular refrain in customer-centric businesses is: "The customer is always right." 

While this may not always be the case, it highlights the importance of prioritizing your customers' needs. A truly customer-obsessed business understands customer satisfaction and success are intrinsically linked.

Customer engagement

Customer engagement involves actively approaching customers, building relationships, and creating positive experiences at every touchpoint. 

A customer-obsessed business will focus on creating a seamless customer journey across all channels, from initial contact to post-purchase support.

Exceptional customer service delivery 

Delivering exceptional customer service involves ensuring employees are empowered, motivated, and committed to delivering exceptional customer experiences. 

Businesses achieve this by:

Qualities of customer obsession

In a world where customers have more choices than ever before, organizations need all the qualities of a customer-obsessed business, including:

Prioritizing customer retention

Instead of solely focusing on acquiring new customers, a customer-obsessed business should prioritize keeping existing customers happy and satisfied. 

Carefully balancing your focus between new and existing customers can result in long-term loyalty, repeat business, and positive recommendations.

Focusing on quality over quantity

A customer-obsessed business values delivering high-quality products more than increasing sales volume or market share.

Aligning every department with customer success

Every department in a customer-obsessed business needs a singular goal, from marketing to product development to customer service. This goal ensures that customers succeed with company products or services.

Utilizing proactive customer service

A customer-obsessed business actively anticipates and addresses customers' needs rather than merely reacting to issues. This proactive approach fosters positive relationships and increases loyalty.

Prioritizing customer feedback

A customer-obsessed business listens to customer feedback, improving its products, services, and overall customer experience.

Steps to create a more customer-obsessed culture

80% of companies believe they offer a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. This gap highlights the importance of creating a customer-obsessed culture within a business.

Companies need to take intentional steps to prioritize and invest in their customers. Let's explore some critical steps to create a more customer-obsessed culture.

Step 1: Inspire the whole company with strong leadership principles

Strong leadership should set the tone and inspire the rest of the company to build a customer-obsessed culture. 

A leader should prioritize customer-centric values and behaviors by communicating the importance of customer success. They should also be willing to invest in initiatives prioritizing customers' needs.

Step 2: Build the right team

Hire exceptional people who share a passion for delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Candidates should demonstrate empathy, problem-solving skills, and a customer-first mindset. 

Moreover, your company should train team members to understand customer-centric values and provide resources to deliver them successfully.

Step 3: Innovate and iterate

Experiment with new approaches to customer engagement. Investing in technology and tools allows companies to better understand and serve their customers.

You should also be willing to use feedback to continuously improve. This approach will help you stay ahead of evolving customer needs and preferences, ultimately driving long-term customer loyalty and advocacy.

Examples of customer-obsessed companies

From providing exceptional customer service to delivering personalized experiences, customer-obsessed companies are winning the hearts and wallets of many customers. 

These companies have made customer obsession their core business strategy:

  • Disney

  • Birchbox

  • Amazon

  • HubSpot

  • Casper

  • Slack

  • Zappos

  • Wegmans

  • Ritz-Carlton

  • Franklin Synergy Bank

Embracing customer obsession is an excellent way to ensure customer loyalty. It can take time to truly become a customer-obsessed company, but it’s well worth your efforts.


Is customer obsession a value?

Yes, customer obsession is a value that focuses on prioritizing the needs and expectations of customers.

What are the 3 Cs of customer satisfaction?

The 3 Cs of customer satisfaction are: 

  • Customer expectations

  • Customer experience

  • Customer feedback

Why is customer obsession good?

Customer obsession helps companies build stronger customer relationships, increase loyalty, and drive business growth.

What are the best ways to achieve customer obsession and loyalty?

The best ways to achieve customer obsession and loyalty are:

  • Listening to customer feedback

  • Delivering exceptional customer experiences

  • Providing personalized services

  • Anticipating customer needs

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