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Importance/Performance Matrix

Importance/Performance Matrix

Importance/Performance Matrix

Use this framework to improve the effectiveness of marketing programs

Use this framework to improve the effectiveness of marketing programs or indeed any other business initiative.

This framework was proposed by John Martilla and John James and uses attributes which are measured in order to find out the importance of different aspects of service and how well they are performed.  The framework is especially useful in assessing customer satisfaction. Various elements of customer service are rated in terms of importance and satisfaction and analysed in a grid which shows where to improve performance.

In a customer satisfaction survey various factors are chosen which are considered important to a company's business success. These may be determined by qualitative research with customers, by the management in the company, or they may be regular attributes that are used in a customer satisfaction tracking survey. Once the attributes have been chosen, a questionnaire is developed using a scale which would ask the importance of each.

In the framework from Martilla and James customers were asked to state the important of attributes using a 5 point Likert scale. This is a verbal scale ranging from not at all important through to extremely important. Having established the importance of different attributes using measurements of this kind, respondents were then asked their satisfaction with the performance of the company on each. Again, a five point scale was used.

The data are plotted on a grid which shows which attributes need attention because they are important and have low performance. The grid indicates actions that are needed for the different attributes. Some will be high priority and need concentrated effort while others can be set aside for a watchful eye.

In 1977 John Martilla and John James (respectively a marketing professor and a consultant out of Washington DC), wrote a paper in the Journal of Marketing called "Importance-Performance Analysis". It was based on a study for a car dealer that attempted to find out how it could improve the loyalty of its service department customers. Fourteen attributes were measured to find out the importance of different aspects of service and how well the dealer performed on each. The results were analysed in a grid which showed where to improve performance.

The starting point for this framework is therefore to list all the attributes that are thought to be of some importance to customers. Then it is necessary to ask customers two questions:


  • How important is this feature?

  • How well does the supplier perform in delivering this feature?


The average scores of the answers to each question can be mapped to show which features are vital to continued success and where improvements are required. It may also show where resources can be saved because they do not contribute to an improved performance. This simple and effective framework is a predecessor of the SERVQUAL model which is a matrix of customer expectations mapped against supplier performance (see SERVQUAL). Where possible it is always good to have data from customers for an analysis of this kind.  However, if these aren’t available, simple heart-searching on what are believed to be a company’s customer strengths and weaknesses would make a good starting point and no doubt point to areas requiring improvement.

Some things to think about.

  • What are the attributes that are considered important to your customers when they decide to do business with you or your competitors?

  • What is the mean score of importance and performance on these attributes?

  • When plotted on an importance – performance grid, where do the attributes fall and what actions do they suggest?

  • How do these measures vary between loyal customers and not so loyal customers?

  • What strategies are needed to bring the not so loyal customers closer on board?

  • The Kraljic framework may also be helpful in prioritising what will help a company improve its performance -

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