Do you really want to be a customer-centric company? It sure sounds good. But if you’re an established company with siloed data, lack of customer knowledge, and a rewards structure that prioritizes generating revenue over meeting the needs of your customers, then you have some work to do.
The list of potential opportunities to improve is a long one; this one isn’t. That’s because it’s meant to get you thinking and developing your own solutions specific to your organization.
1. Listen to your customers. We’re not simply talking about satisfaction surveys or asking “the ultimate question” to track a Net Promoter score–though this can be part of the equation. The issue with these solutions is that they don’t point toward the problems or delights that drive those scores. Listening to your customer means asking them what they think–and why. Then acting on it.
2. Remember: Customer perception is reality. The quality of your customer experience lives in one place: the mind of your customer. No matter how well you think you’re doing, the gap between customer expectations of experience and their perceptions of actual experience is the reality you need to understand and address.
3. Make your customers part of the solution. Involving the customer in the design process–experiences, services, products, or physical environments–has been around for a long time. It boils down to this: Don’t make decisions about what your customers might want or need without taking their point-of-view into account.
4. Map your customer’s journey. A customer journey map allows you to “walk in your customers’ shoes” by traveling with them as they interact with your company. Research-based and focused on desired outcomes from the customer’s perspective, you’ll see what their needs are at each interaction, how well you meet them, and where opportunities for improvement lie.
5. Monitor customer interactions. Customer listening is just that: listening. Monitoring is critical, as well, because only you know all your touchpoints. Pulsed, planned, or transactional surveys, call-center logs, complaint lines, Web feedback, and social media commentary–monitor your performance in all of these places, and more. Set KPIs based on customers expected and your planned experience, and monitor to see how well you do.
6. Get your data together. Most established companies keep customer data in silos across the enterprise: sales data in one bucket, marketing data in another; product and service somewhere else, and digital data another entirely. All of this customer data needs to be integrated and easily accessible across your organization, so employees can truly “see” the relationship between you and your customer, and make decisions as a result. This is one of the greatest challenges faced by big companies, and one of the most important to solve.
7. “See” your customers digitally. Every transaction between your company and your customers generates data about that transaction. Each online or mobile interaction generates “digital data trails” that can be stored and analyzed. Looking at your customers through the lens of your digital relationship will provide valuable insights into behavior that can help you radically improve customer experience.
8. Define your customer experience strategy. Customer experience strategy flows from your company’s business and brand strategy. Just as brand strategy creates (and manages) customer expectations of a brand, your customer experience strategy is your plan to meet or exceed those expectations. With implications for virtually every aspect of your company, it’s the vehicle through which you can turn customer expectations into reality.
9. Empower and reward your employees. In the quest to be more customer-centric, your employees are the frontline. They boast a wealth of insight about customers and internal operations, and can quickly improve customer experience through one-on-one interactions and behind-the-scenes decision-making. Yet many companies have reward structures tied only to revenue, versus meeting the needs of customers. They don’t empower employees to make the decisions required to meet those customer needs.
Now that you’ve read this list, where can you take advantage of these opportunities in your own company? And what further ideas can you add to this list? Keep this in mind: The secret to customer-centricity is based on designing your world around an understanding of your customers’ needs–and a focus on actually meeting those needs.
This core idea relates to everything on this list–and should relate to everything in yours.