customer-centric, customer-focused, customer first, customer experience, customer centricity

Listen to any company in almost every industry, and you’ll undoubtedly hear phrases like customer-centric and customer-focused touted as top priorities. But what does that exactly mean? When leaders of a company fail to explain or provide specific examples of what it really means to be customer-centric, employees often see these words as little more than corporate platitudes.

Companies feel obligated to go on record as being customer-centric. It makes sense. Which company is going to publicly announce that they do not care about customers and what they have to say? But the reality is that becoming truly customer-centric is about more than developing vague marketing statements. The more important question is this:

“As an organization, what can we do today to put the customer first?”

And to really make this really real, each employee at a customer-centric organization should ask themselves this question:

“What can I do today to create a better customer experience for our customer?”

The reality is that becoming truly customer-centric is more than developing marketing statements—it is a fundamental shift in a company’s mindset to focus on the customer.

The best way we know for companies to actually become more customer-centric is to consistently listen to the customer. It starts and ends there. We believe that the choice is simple—either listen to your customers or die. It sounds a bit dramatic, but it is true. Ask RadioShack, Blockbuster, BlackBerry, Kodak, and any other companies that were once on top and then stopped listening to their customers.

Becoming Customer-Centric

We recommend accomplishing customer centricity by using an organization-wide, customer listening program called Voice of the Customer (VoC).

VoC gathers customer feedback during, or soon after, an experience. Then customer feedback is delivered to the people within the organization who are responsible for improving the experience and immediately resolving any issues identified by the customer. Resolving customer issues immediately increases the likelihood that you will retain customers and reduce churn. This is a marked departure from when all customer feedback lived in the market research department and was often confined to a handful of people within the organization.

Here’s the key point for now: when customer feedback reaches those who interact with customers every day and they are empowered to act on this feedback and save potentially lost customers, a CX mindset is extended to the entire company. Your company begins to become customer-centric!

Customer Touchpoints

VoC also makes it easy for customers to be heard no matter how they choose to interact with your company. VoC tells you which touchpoints are going well and which are not.

The Benefits of Customer Listening

Regular customer listening enables your company to be more customer-centric by:

  • Immediately resolving individual customer problems as soon as possible before you lose that customer and/or they spread negative word of mouth (often through social media). Reducing customer churn and increasing the chances that a customer will provide a positive social review (or reducing the chances they will share a negative one) are two major business benefits of customer listening programs.
  • Understanding, at a strategic level, how customers feel about the various touchpoints, so you know where you are strong and where you need improvement.
  • Improving the touchpoints that aren’t working, starting with the ones most likely to cost you customers or entice them to share negative feedback on social media.
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CXREFRESH, Customer Experience, Global CX

In the light of the fact that  customers are becoming more demanding and comparing different companies against each other when they base their decisions on where to purchase based on their experience. … A lot of companies want to make sure they do well on customer satisfaction by increasing the observed performance.

Some of the instant boosters for ensuring your organization’s focus on CX gets moving are:

“Figure out what the customer really wants, if you can solve the problem they will pay; the value is often not in the discount you can offer but rather in the solution you can provide.” which is fairly under the timelines what the customer would have thought it should take.

The best of the companies put a genuine focus on developing and to implement culture. They implement training programs around their cultural values to ensure everyone shares the same values and that they are consistently demonstrated when dealing with customers.”

In a world that is heavily dependent on the internet, consumers are quick to get online and share how they feel about a product or service.  Please ensure to  log onto the internet and observe what people are saying about your business or the product at above all the services. Find out what people enjoy, as well as what they’d like to see improved. The reviews you stumble across might surprise you and introduce you to areas of improvement that you had not previously considered.

“The key here is to contact your customers before they need to pick up the phone and contact you! To be effective, these contacts should be timely, personalized and relevant to the consumer.

The best proactive strategies  include getting in regular contact throughout the consumer lifecycle. Examples include: payment reminders, fraud monitoring, and personalized loyalty and reward schemes. This strategy can reduce inbound calls and improve agent efficiency. This proves that offering great customer service isn’t just good for the consumer, it’s good for the business as well.”

“Customers in this era are increasingly demanding speedy responses—sometimes as quickly as in real time—to their complaints and queries  on social media. Any company that isn’t paying attention can wreak havoc with its reputation.” Being active on social media would play a pivotal role.

“Benchmarking is the process of comparing your own organization or operations against other organizations in your industry or in the broader marketplace. You might compare your most successful competitor’s customer processes and satisfaction with your own. Or, you might look at a firm outside of your industry known for remarkable customer service practices. Establishing a benchmarking initiative is an important component of measuring and improving your customer service and satisfaction  and coming out as a winner.

“Nothing is more frustrating for a consumer than wandering around in a digital world unsure of what to expect from a business, or when. One should Let customers know up front what your standards and practices are. How long will they wait for a response or a callback? Will that response truly be on target and accurate? Removing the customers’ uncertainty about such often repeated issues in customer service lets them know that a company is committed to their success and satisfaction, especially when the business builds in enough leeway that it can routinely exceed expectations.”

It is true that sometimes, it can be difficult to find ways to improve customer satisfaction. But there are always more customers who have valuable insights that they haven’t given to you. It’s up to you to go fishing, not for compliments, but for criticisms. In your survey, after asking customers how satisfied they are, you should provide a form where they can type out a response. You have a few different options here. It’s most common to ask customers to explain why they gave you the score that they did. You can pick more customers’ brains by phrasing your question/statement more clearly. For example, you could ask: “What could we have done differently to improve your experience?” By being upfront about what you’re asking, customers will provide you with more insightful responses.”

  • Omnichannel Engagement Across All Touchpoints

A consistent experience across all touch points, from mobile to social media to video, is paramount to a good customer experience along the entire customer journey. It is not productive to focus on any one single area – the complete journey is the bigger picture that you have to understand. The Harvard Business Review may have said it best when they stated, simply, “More Touchpoints, More Complexity”, but they also note companies that are able to successfully manage the entire journey enjoy greater customer satisfaction, less churn, increased revenue, and higher levels of employee satisfaction [5]. There is also an enormous potential to gain valuable insights specific to each channel every time there is a customer interaction.

  • Transparency

Social media ushered in an era of authenticity and transparency, and those rules apply more than ever. Customers expect fast service and an authentic explanation communicated in a genuine, personable tone. Companies that ignore this now widely-accepted principle risk damage to their reputation or negative word of mouth spreading like wildfire, which can mean losing out on a lot of business.

The old adage has some merit when it comes to the Customer Experience. That doesn’t mean customers should be humored even when they are on the wrong side. In fact, avoid that at all  since consumers have a knack for sniffing out a lack of authenticity. What it does mean, however, is that customers have to be heard when they go out of their way to project their voices across multiple channels, platforms and devices. So utilize modern technology to deliver an experience that will delight your customers and inspire them to talk about it if you want to grow and retain your customer base.

  • Mapping Current Performance

Once a company has identified its key customer journeys, it must examine each one in detail in order to understand the causes of current performance. This deep dive involves additional research, including customer and employee focus groups and call monitoring. Combined with the initial analysis, it allows the company to map the most significant permutations of each journey as the customer experiences and would describe it, revealing the sequence of steps she is likely to take from start to finish. The mapping exercise also exposes departures from the ideal customer experience and their causes, and often reveals policy choices or company processes that unintentionally generate adverse results. For example, many companies charge for phone-based technical support, thinking that imposing a fee will steer customers to self-service options. But the consequence may be numerous callbacks or inadequate do-it-yourself fixes, both of which degrade the customer experience.

Once a company has identified its priority journeys and gained an understanding of the problems within them, leaders must avoid the temptation to helicopter in and dictate remedies; indeed, they should refrain from any solutions (including ones from outside experts) that don’t give employees a big hand in shaping the outcome. Even if a fix appears obvious from the outside, the root causes of poor customer experience always stem from the inside, often from cross-functional disconnects. Only by getting cross-functional teams together to see problems for themselves and design solutions as a group can companies hope to make fixes that stick.

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