We all have heard Customer related concepts such as Customer Service, Customer Awareness, and Customer Sensitivity. These concepts further evolved as businesses increasingly placed Customers at the centre of their business model. This led to relatively new approaches to improve Customer Experience using concepts of Customer Centricity, Customer Obsession and Customer Devotion.
A significant percentage of companies are still stuck in the old ways of interacting with customers. However, this trend is changing as more and more organisations are embracing new ways of driving experiences for their customers.
In this blog the focus is on Customer Centricity, Obsession and Devotion. Our aim will be to provide clarity around these different approaches. Organisations that embrace these approaches will create a positive business impact with customers to varying degrees and achieve an immediate effect on how the customer views your organisation.
In the words of Peter Drucker “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him/her and sells itself.”
Every time an organisation takes a decision, it considers the impact that decision will have on customers. Customer centric organisations are aware that for them to be successful, their customers need to succeed. It’s not about selling your products or services but about helping customers solving their problems or getting stuff done for them.
Customers are understood and valued at an individual level. The performance measurement is more about emotional value than satisfaction. There is a greater emphasis on communication and collaboration with customers, between employees, and between employees and customers. Customer centric organisations demonstrate committed leadership, courage and a range of specialist competencies.
Great Customer Centric Organisations
- IBM uses a hybrid design-engineering approach called IBM Design Thinking to put users, rather than features, first, in the planning process, and the need to do it with speed. Over 100 product teams have embraced it, and their business units are growing revenue by double digits.
- Rich Products achieving Customer Intimacy through Reengineering. They have broken the silos between departments in the product development process. Instead of a lengthy route of marketing chasing down R&D, QA, regulatory, packaging, and plant contacts with a new feature request from a client, they have taken a new, cross-functional approach that responds quickly to customer needs.
- Intuit is reviving a Culture Built Around Customers approach. Intuit implemented a cultural and operating initiative called “Design for Delight” where empathy for the customer and experimentation is encouraged, and expected.
Obsession with the customer is a next level experience. Everyone in the organisation cutting across the functions is involved in providing value to the customer. Throughout the organisation, customer needs and expectations (functional and especially emotional) are well understood and the response is often proactive and appropriate.
These organisations focus on complete customer life cycles, and much more on retention, loyalty and risk mitigation, to win back than acquisition. Multiple sources of data are used to develop insights and invest in altruistic content creation to communicate proactively and in as personalised a manner as possible.
It makes good business sense because these organisations focus on what matters most to their customers which directly translates to customer loyalty, bonding, advocacy and emotional connection.
How does Amazon do it?
Amazon understands that the needs and wants of customers keep changing. They are proactive in anticipating such changes and consequently are ready with products/services that will cater to these new needs. Amazon does what customers want – it completely crafts its business practices, its systems, and its people to support the customer experience.
Let’s look at customer scenarios and how Amazon’s customer obsession culture is handling them.
Purchasing a wrong item e.g. a DVD – Amazon allows easy return or exchange for DVDs without restrictions. Even if the customer is outside the return window or is otherwise technically not entitled to do what they are asking to do, the company will go out of its way to bend its policies to keep happy customers and the enduring customer relationship. Amazon will even buy back those DVDs once you’re finished with them.
Damaged Items – When a customer complaints of damaged item shipped by its logistics partner, Amazon customer service agents just don’t take complaints, they ensure they resolve it, in real-time if possible. They call the logistics partner on the other line and commit timelines to pickup the damaged item. It means, they are helping customers to resolve their complaint instead of customers having to make multiple calls to more than one service provider.
Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to engage, excite and build long term relationships. Organisations need to gain insights into individual customer’s rational and emotional needs. It requires progression from personalisation to individualisation. In other words, it’s a canvas called personal portrait.
Often, organisations are faced with the sheer volume of customer complaints. Instead of looking at these complaints as problems, can organisations perceive them as opportunities? The answer is a resounding yes.
- 8 out of 10 Guests are influenced by well-handled issue resolution procedures when ‘re-booking’ their next trip or event.
- Attentive Staff is the number # 1 driver for great customer experience in hotels and
- Over half of positive customer experiences are driven by customised support by attentive staff
This culture of devotion will inspire customers to buy more, spend more and be the advocate of your brand to their family, friends and colleagues.
I believe the more your customers feel valued, the more valuable they become to your business. Devotion drives demand.
It reminds me of one of Albert Einstein’s quotes on organisation relationships with customers. “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master.”