Make it count, be customer-centric

Do you have a frustrating and challenging customer experience story from the past year?  What was the outcome? A company you say you’ll never do business with again? Or one that quickly resolved the situation and won back your loyalty?  In this digital world, we are inching further and further away from human interactions.  So, when we engage customers, it is imperative we make it count, and be customer-centric.  Those moments are the ultimate reflection of a company’s brand.

Anheuser-Busch has a code of excellence that states: somebody still cares about quality. Very true, but It’s not just somebody, it’s almost everybody. Studies show 87% of customers who say they had a great experience will make another purchase from the company, compared to 18% of customers who had a very poor experience. It’s the laws of human behavior that built so many business adages. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Good customer service costs less than bad customer service. Customers keep us in business.

One of the best things you can do for your brand is to implement customer-centric business strategies.  This shifts decision-making to focus on customer needs and ensures every interaction helps the customer and in turn your business.

There are many ways to become a customer-first business. Here are some of the most impactful:

  1. Listen – make sure your customers feel heard.  Actively pursue customer feedback.  For B2B companies, actively conduct win/loss analysis to understand buying decisions. Use quick feedback tools on your website, at checkout, or at key moments in your interactions.
  2. Invite new ideas – ensure your teams work in a collaborative environment. Bring in employees who are closest to the customers to gather new ideas to improve the customer experience. Invite a customer or partner to join an ideation session or advisory board.
  3. Learn – Take what you have heard, look at your data, and research what your competitors are doing well to improve your customer interactions. Bring in guest speakers from other industries or field experts to talk about their approaches.
  4. Focus on developing your teams – Ensure the people who are in direct contact with your customers are well-trained. And reward those who go above and beyond.  Most importantly, hire people who have a customer-first approach.
  5. Ensure customers are part of your brand – Focus on creating brand advocates. Studies have shown that 82% of buyers seek recommendations when considering a purchase. Loyalty programs, comarketing campaigns, social advocacy, testimonials, and case studies… the list goes on and on!
  6. Communicate – The business decisions you make affect your customers.  Be proactive in messaging any changes or sharing industry shifts that may impact them directly. Tell them what you’re doing and why. And repeat! Rarely are key messages picked up on the first try.

The bottom line is 60% of buyers have higher standards for customer service than in the past. With that, 73% expect companies to understand their needs, but only 51% believe they do.  Becoming customer-centric will lead to more revenue, better brand advocacy, and an enriched work environment for your employees.  That sounds like a winning formula!