Data shows that customer-centric companies are leading the way in all aspects of business growth. Not only have they become more profitable than companies that put product and sales first, but they’re also gaining new customers at a quicker pace by cultivating loyalty and earning glowing recommendations. They’re increasing their market share by developing resonant brands that inspire customers and align with their values. And they’re cutting time and expenses in their initial product design, then redirecting those resources wherever they’re most needed.
Here are three ways to begin your journey toward customer obsession:
Feel the Feelings
Empathy has been the bedrock of human-centered design for decades. But, too often, companies assume that empathizing with their customers means thinking about their customers and having compassion for them. These behaviors actually describe something closer to customer sympathy, which places you at a distance from your customer and casts you as an observer.
Empathizing with your customer is a much deeper and more radical process. It involves immersing yourself in your customer’s world with so much detail and understanding that you’re able to think and feel with them. It’s not unlike the sensation of becoming so absorbed in a movie or novel that a character’s plight begins to feel like your own. Once you’re embedded in your customer’s life, you’ll be able to do more than simply understand their wants; you’ll be able to anticipate their needs.
You’ll learn to empathize with your customer by talking to them, interviewing them and watching them engage with your product or service in their own space and on their own schedule. You’ll develop an understanding of who they are and what they want at a granular level, focussing on the small data that paints a detailed and vivid portrait. With so many products and services increasingly integrated into all aspects of our lives, you’ll need to understand your customers’ passions, fears and aspirations, and build products from these insights.
Engage your Employees
Customer obsession needs to be embraced by everyone. Since there’s a direct relationship between customer satisfaction and financial performance, every employee needs to see the customer as the company’s most important stakeholder and build first-hand relationships with them themselves.
Sound easier said than done? Luckily, there’s an age-old recipe for customer satisfaction. Think of some of the most memorable customer experiences that you’ve had in the past; they probably involved a kind and patient person who seemed to truly want to help you. This employee would have appeared determined to do their job well and ensure that you had a positive impression of their company. They likely felt valued and challenged in their work, knowing that their efforts would be recognized and rewarded and that their employer was committed to their professional growth and fulfillment. In other words, the main ingredient in customer satisfaction is employee happiness.
Employees develop an emotional attachment to companies that value their work and nurture their growth. This attachment inspires a sense of belonging and responsibility, encouraging them to go that extra mile and do their very best for every customer.
According to recent customer index surveys, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, so nailing this aspect of your business is critical for growth. Have real conversations with your customers as much as you can, and listen to their questions and concerns. Solicit feedback via surveys and comment cards, making sure you respond promptly to both good and bad feedback. Remember, negative responses will be the most valuable for improving your customer service.
Show appreciation in whatever way makes the most sense for your business. Create a loyalty program or offer gift rewards for large purchases. Customers also love samples and branded giveaways.
These techniques will go a long way toward embedding customer obsession into the heart of your company. Remember: true customer-centricity means that every decision should begin and end with the customer. If you think of your customer as the company leader, you’ll see your company lead the way to success.