The landscape of customer and business relationships is changing. There was a time when businesses believed that they could sell to the customers what they wanted to sell and they could tell the customers what they wanted to tell. But in the last decade the tables have turned, the customers have become more aware and hence more powerful. The reins of power in the business world today rest with the customer.
That thing called customer loyalty
Advanced communication technology is an important catalyst of this transfer of power from the hands of businesses to customers. Due to this shift of power, the loyalty of customer has become very fragile and thanks to more and more options of commodities or services, customers don’t hesitate to move their loyalty to another brand, if they are not treated right. In this reality, customers are more important than ever before and companies that understand and act on this are the ones that will get ahead of its competitors.
Today, the customers evaluate a company on the experience that they get. The whole sales cycle (pre-sales, purchase and post-purchase) experience is as important to them as the actual product or service is. Customers are not only the most digitally savvy today compared to previous generations, they are also great at multi-tasking. According to Gartner, leading CEOs have said that their digital revenue will increase by more than 80 percent by 2020. Owing to this ability, customers juggle multiple channels at one time aided by modern technology. Servicing these customers requires companies to be alert always, frequent the same channels as customers, and be consistent is their customer service across channels.
It is due to this influence of digital channels and shifting customer loyalties, more and more companies are becoming ‘customer obsessed’. There is a continuous thinking & working about how to woo the customer, how to deliver a wow experience every time, how to win the trust to have a larger wallet share, and the list goes on.
So, what are the typical traits ‘customer obsessed’ companies possess?
Have a resident expert of customer intelligence
Have employees or partners on the team who have actually worked with customer data. They will have immense knowledge and great ideas about how best to make use of that data and execute rewarding customer support initiatives. Many companies talk of how important customer service is to them and even collate data from them. However, the data then gets sidelined because they don’t know what to do with it. You need to go beyond just talking about customers and collecting feedback to actually implementing customer changes.
Focus on customer retention over acquisition
70% marketers believe that their retention marketing efforts are only average, poor, or need improvement. Most companies are single-mindedly focused on acquiring more customers and draw up their marketing plans specifically to attract more new customers.
But, the fact is that customer retention is far more profitable and helps cut costs than customer acquisition (Customer retention is 3 times cheaper than cost of acquiring new customers). When luring new customers, you need to invest a lot more money and effort into convincing them to patronize your brand. Whereas with existing customers who already know the advantages of your brand, you don’t need to invest on acquisition but you definitely need to keep them happy with great customer experience during every interaction, provide consistent, unified customer service across channels.
Blend multiple sources of customer data
Today your customers don’t reach you just by the phone. Infact as per Forrester report ‘Contact centers must go digital or die. (Dated: April 3, 2015)’, customers prefer to use digital channels like social media, text, chat, apps, etc.. and this is only the beginning. This spectrum is only going to grow with new IoT coming out every year. With so many different channels of communication, there are numerous sources where valuable customer information is available. Customer preferences vary with each channel so it’s essential to study and understand data from all sources before making changes. Using data for multiple sources helps you in making better predictions about customer needs, predict purchase behavior and above all personalize customer experience.
Develop post transaction interactions with customers
It is observed that even in today’s digital, customer centric world, companies forget to reach out to the customer post a successful sale is done. It is very important for a customer centric organization to engage with their customers even after they make a purchase from you. All companies who give utmost importance to customers communicate with customers immediately after the purchase and even in the long run to continuously learn about changing customer preferences, feedback about the service so they can tweak and make changes to keep the different customer segments happy. This practice helps stay on customers’ mind and also gain better understanding of their expectations from your company.
Make room for customer needs
Most of the times the companies try to solve the problem of what was happening in the past but what they truly need to focus on is what can happen in future, how will the customers communicate, how will the customers engage, how will they buy, how will they commute, etc.. Customer obsessed companies keep a futuristic outlook to managing their customers not just today but to maintain the same standard or higher of service in the future too. They are always flexible in accommodating customer needs in their marketing and customer service plans. These companies understand that customer needs do not align with their own goals always. So they factor in room for customer needs when formulating their customer service plans.
The obsession is growing faster than ever, how obsessed are you with your customers?