We’ve seen how happy customers are the key to a successful business. In order to know if your customers are happy you have to engage with them and get their feedback. But then you have to listen to what they say and act on what they want. Doing customer research and leaving it in a box to gather dust is not enough, you have to have the voice of the customer running through your organisation.
So what does a customer-centric business look like? The start point is to make sure the whole organisation knows who the customer is and what they want. There may be different types of customer with different needs. It’s important that those are understood and everyone knows how their needs differ and perhaps which ones are most important.
Some companies have personas of their customers in meetings. When decisions are being made they check what their customer might think. If the whole team really knows the customers and tries to see the business from their perspective then that persona may not be necessary. However, it’s not always easy to see things from the customer perspective.
• how can your team know what it feels like to come to your venue for the first time – they last did that several years ago so they know their way!
• people who work in the automotive industry rarely know what it’s like to buy a brand new car, they don’t go through that process and if they do it is with a huge brand bias attached
• a healthcare professional is not a ‘normal’ patient – they know the jargon and the process behind the outward facing experience
Sharing customer feedback widely and regularly is an important part of ensuring the customer is at the heart of the business.
An important tool in this process is to understand the customer journey. Mapping out every step they take from first identifying the need or desire for a product or service that you provide, though seeking out ideas and information from you and your competitors, making the final decision, completing the transaction and using any after-sales support or follow-up.
Most journeys are, in reality rarely linear or done in isolation. Stages in the journey overlap, individual purchase journeys overlap, paths change, late decision influencers impact behaviour and some journeys are never finished. This only increases the importance of understanding how people interact with you and with your competitors.
Building a customer-centric organisation takes time and commitment, with a customer-focused leadership team in place.
By knowing your customers you will also understand your true competitors, the organisations your customers consider alongside you. This knowledge will then inform your strategy, ensuring your priorities and actions are centred on the customer needs.
A key area overlooked in many organisations is empowerment of customer facing staff. How annoying is it when a staff member has to seek out higher management to authorise a refund or replacement for obviously faulty goods. The organisations that enable customer-facing personnel to make judgement calls and support customers typically have less dissatisfied customers
Once these core principles are in place tracking of performance against customer-focused KPIs is important to maintain and improve the customer experience.
An important part of building a customer centric organisation is collecting continual feedback, at an interval suited to your organisation. It is not enough to collect feedback once and become complacent as customers may use your service many times and have differing experiences. The feedback collection intervals will depend on the organisation type. For example, a retail outlet could use a kiosk based survey which allows customers to give feedback at the point of transaction at each visit. Other organisations providing a service may benefit from collecting feedback on a quarterly basis. However, be aware of survey fatigue. Demanding feedback after every visit can be tiresome for customers and make them unlikely to give feedback – or worse, they may give a negative review due to feeling pestered
Therefore every successful customer-focused organisation sets goals and monitors progress. Setting goals is not about saying we want 10 out of 10 for everything, it is about being challenging but realistic. Setting goals based on movement from current performance, available resource and achievable timing is key to getting buy-in and achieving those goals
A continuous cycle of monitoring progress, rewarding success and updating goals to meet changing customer needs should be an embedded process within every organisation.
It has been proven many times that standing still in customer service levels is not an option. Providing the same service levels as last year is unlikely to generate the same level of customer satisfaction. Expectations are on the increase all the time in all aspects of life so organisations need to keep improving the services they provide.
This content comes from a series of short webinars in which we share our perspective on how best to understand your customers experiences and how to ensure they are happy and loyal. They are jointly produced by Webropol, a web-based survey and analytics tool provider and XV Insight, a market research and insight consultancy
You can view the full set of webinars on YouTube or if you’d like more information please get in touch: