To get a competitive edge, many organizations are changing the way they do business. Some embrace more advanced technologies, while others implement a customer-centric or a customer-obsessed model, an approach that fosters a positive customer experience at every stage of their buying journey.
Customer obsession is most associated with Amazon. It started as the first of their 14 Leadership Principles where the company leaves an open chair in every strategic meeting to represent the customer. The chair serves as a reminder that the customer should always have a seat at the table.
While some companies aspire to achieve a customer-obsessed culture, putting it into practice is harder than it seems. Most companies tend to focus more on their current capabilities, products, or processes. Additionally, like any other critical methodology, one training session is not enough to call an organization customer-obsessed. Customer obsession needs to be built into a company’s culture and consistently reinforced with the right strategies and mechanisms, and here's a few to get you started.
Prioritize customer retention over acquisition
Most businesses focus on marketing and sales to bring in new customers and close as many deals as possible. This is where the biggest distinction for customer-obsessed companies comes in.
Customer-obsessed organizations take a more methodical approach. You can do this by implementing customer service throughout your buyer’s journey and then build meaningful relationships with leads and customers. Once a deal is closed, your company can add more value to your customer’s experience. This will increase the chances of retaining those customers.
Implement customer service throughout their buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is a three-stage process customers go through. The table below shows how Apple’s website serves their customers throughout that journey which explores visibility, relevancy, ease-of-use, and speed experience:
|Awareness Stage||Consideration Stage||Decision Stage|
|Stage description||The buyer encounters what appears to be a problem or opportunity||The buyer names their problem or opportunity and seeks ways to address it||The buyer has decided on a particular strategy for solving their problem|
|Apple’s customer service||Apple has no problem dominating organic listings in the search engine results for its various products and to be absolutely 100% confident in its dominance, Apple is a constant presence in the paid-for listings.||When searching for a product, a searcher will click through to a relevant landing page, full of product information and technical specifications. It’s a very persuasive page that either takes a customer on a journey to learn more about the product without a hard sell, or for the already knowledgeable there is quick and easy access to buy it straight away.||Once everything’s completed, a final total appears at the bottom along with a green ‘select’ button.
Wording avoids the phrase ‘buy it now’, again Apple takes the soft, subtle approach.
Create meaningful relationships with leads and customers
Building relationships is the Apple Store’s magic formula. Apple personnel are taught to engage customers via a very effective communication technique called the Ritz-Carlton: Steps of Service. This method includes walking a customer through five steps that spell out the acronym APPLE as follows:
A: Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome
P: Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs
P: Present a solution for the customer to take home today
L: Listen for and resolve issues or concerns
E: End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Get to know your customers through data
Data acts as a window into your market as it informs effective management decisions and in turn, drives growth. For example, quantitative data such as sales statistics, revenue patterns, and web analytics can provide an overview of which offerings customers are inclined to purchase. Additionally, qualitative data from surveys and customer feedback can help you understand where experiences may be falling short of expectations.
No matter the scope of your business, you’re likely already engaged in some method of data collection. Use your existing records and augment it with further research so that you can create effective strategies for building your customer base.
Align every department with customer success
Customer obsession shouldn’t just include your customer service department. Every team in your company needs to implement customer service and align themselves with customer success. This will improve customer experience in all purchase phases.
For example, if your business runs an IT support team, you’ll have IT support technicians working directly with clients. This is where online chat systems are often beneficial for both customers and companies. However, most online chat services are monotonous and perfunctory.
Netflix is a good example that shows exceptional customer service. Rather than having their agents script boring chat conversations, the streaming service giant encourages their customer representatives to be creative and engaging during chat sessions. In one conversation that went viral, a Netflix customer service representative pretended to be a character from Star Trek. The customer played along and the entire conversation was pretty entertaining.
Provide proactive customer service
This involves thinking ahead and solving problems before your customer encounters them. To illustrate, you can use email automation to routinely ask for feedback right after a customer makes a purchase. Collate their responses to see how they experience your brand and gain insights on how you can improve your strategies and how you can provide customer support. You may also adopt self-service tools that provide support resources or reduce strain on in-house resources by using managed service offerings from a trusted managed services provider (MSP).
Empower a human experience
It’s no longer enough to rely on just data to create a better customer experience. People look for a more human experience. According to a report, 71% of the US buying population prefers human interaction versus automated alternatives and 60% of customers would end their relationship with a brand as a result of unfriendly experience.
In the age of social media, doing a customer extra kindness can gain your business a loyal following, while negative encounters can go viral even more quickly. Remember, happy people make happy customers and the most successful customer-obsessed companies understand transformation comes from within.
Protect consumer privacy and security
Because your business collects personal information from your customers, it’s your responsibility to protect their data privacy. If a breach occurs, it may damage your reputation in the long run.
The methods you use to secure your data will depend on your infrastructure. While cloud solutions come with a measure of built-in security, they are not a fail-safe solution. This means that you will need to maintain a comprehensive cybersecurity program that can proactively investigate possible threats and immediately respond to a potential breach.
Becoming a customer-obsessed business comes down to making your customers trust that your business has their best interest at heart –– you see them as people rather than as statistics. If you’re still not sure if your company is customer-obsessed, drop us a line today and we’ll show you how we create real relationships with our customers and turn them into raving fans!