By John Wells
You’ve heard it all before. “The customer is best. The customer comes first. The customer is always right.”
So how do you get your business in the customer-centric mindset?
You need to establish a goal of providing a positive experience before, during, and after the sale in the hopes of earning repeat business and referrals. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s not as easy to implement – especially when no particular department can really take ownership of the approach.
Customer centricity is not a function of a single group within the organization. The mindset has to be innate to your culture and brand messaging, starting at the top with the corporate suite and trickling down in a way that enables a proper organizational structure, investments, and key performance indicators. While each department will maintain its individual goals, there need to be company-wide goals as well. Every division should be held to the same standards and metrics, all of which stem from supporting the customer.
Looking to get proactive about prioritizing customer centricity? Take these steps to align your departments toward customer success:
1. Define (And Narrow) Your Business Scope
It’s time to figure out the business you are in. Evaluate your company’s goals and ask these questions: What do you do well, what do you not do, what do you need to build, where do you need to partner, and what do you need to buy?
By assessing what you do well, you can streamline your focus and, more importantly, leave the rest to partners and software. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with every facet of marketing and technology. Key strategic partnerships and outsourced relationships allow you to focus on your core strengths and leave the rest to other experts.
You must establish a clear vision for the organization and what it stands for. Make a promise with purpose, so your target customer knows what to expect. Then distribute the message to the company, making sure everyone understands this vision and works toward it. If this is a new philosophy for the company, don’t be surprised if people don’t agree. Not every company is for everyone. You will see some employee attrition, and that’s OK. Embrace the change as you begin to establish a team that focuses on this new customer-centric mentality.
2. Know Your Customer Deeper Than Just Numbers
Knowing your customer is key to a successful business, so focus on building that internal understanding of your customer profile and relating it to the entire organization. Every department and touch point needs the same overarching view of the customer and should behave with them in a manner consistent with the vision.
Updates in smart data and aggregation allow you to target customers not only with precision, but also empathy. Data insights can help create a defined picture of your ideal customer, but the next step is to leverage that understanding and create messaging that connects with that profile on a personal level.
Look for ways to make the customer experience inclusive. Make a personal connection as soon as a potential lead is willing to share his or her contact info. Invite consumers to an experience that can belong solely to them – whether it’s the ability to shop a sale early or provide feedback on upcoming releases. These opportunities allow consumers to feel a closer connection to your brand and keeps you at front of mind.
3. Get The Business Train Onto A Single Track
Alignment across all departments is not just important; it is imperative. Without a cohesive plan of interaction, any customer-first initiative is doomed to fail. Have a clear understanding of how each department touches the customer and in what ways. The tone and message need to be consistent – otherwise, consumers will get a disjointed sense of your company’s brand and culture.
Brands tend to focus on specific marketing techniques or distribution channels and lose sight of other efforts. This builds department silos and a muddled customer experience. By unifying your channels, you create an umbrella that allows for customer consistency and a deeper way to provide for their needs in a meaningful way.
4. Align Your Key Performance Indicators With Customer Needs
Create the overall company-wide KPIs and then determine how each department and individual KPIs support the bigger goals. If each group is measured differently and rewarded on individual department goals, the customer will unfortunately always come second or third. Customer value, customer engagement goals, and customer retention can all be used as tools to measure success.
Evaluate where you’re willing to let go of potential revenue for the greater good of the customer. See what you can do to enhance the customer experience and engage consumers with the brand – even if there’s little or no return on investment. Not everything has to be revenue-generating to be valuable.
A customer-centric focus is crucial to a company’s success, even in a B2B model. After all, there is always a customer on the other end. Determine that profile, establish key metrics and performance indicators for success, and restructure any department aims to ensure company alignment. When the customer feels involved and important, you’ll know you’ve reached your goal.
About John Wells