In today’s connected world, customers have more power than ever before. Social media is how we share & talk about our experiences. They influence our perceptions of brands & the choices we make just as much, if not more, than, traditional media. In the wake of the economic strains, companies are seeking to streamline operations. The best way to achieve this is to be customer centric. But what does this really mean? In reality most businesses actually fail to grasp the answer. For one, It’s not simplistically instruct-ing your employees to put on a smile and give a warm greeting. In fact, it’s vastly deeper than that and works across the three distinct yet essential following levels:

The Customer Perspective

In a recent survey conducted by Brandcell, “efficiency, quickness, and responsiveness” emerged as the most important elements of a great service (63%). As such, understanding the customer perspective and then bringing it inside the company is key to start. Some companies may proclaim to be doing customer satisfaction surveys. This can only give a partial view; ‘the What’, but lacks to answer ‘the Why’; why people or customers behave & feel this way. More so, people tend to say one thing & do another.

You may have lost customers who have traded down from you, but gained others who have upgraded to you. Do these new customers value same aspects of the brand experience as the previous customers? What mechanisms are in place for quick feedback, so you can find out? Just at the time when understand- ing the customer is most important, marketers tend to know the least.

To understand them companies need to dive into customers lives, observe customers in situ & ‘listen with an empathic eye’ to uncover insights that identify elements of dissatisfaction more than satisfaction, and to deeply discover what customers really want, need and aspire to.

Next is data collection. Here again businesses are missing the real value, with most not really knowing what to do with all the data they collect & store in their CRM system beyond sending out SMS or emails. Data needs to be correlat- ed & cross-examined with the consumer perspective from level one for building further knowledge of behavioral patterns. Once such information has been gathered & synthesized, the company is in a better position to devise new solutions and experience improvements that can enhance custom- ers’ lives and really engage them.

Identifying critical insights with data allows you to study your cost structure and determine which expenses can be reduced with minimal incidence on customer satisfaction and re-allocating resources on the actions & aspects that has substantial positive impact on customer’s experience with your brand. 

The Organizational challenge

The organizational challenge involved with being customer centric, necessitates alignment of policies, systems, staff training and back office with front end. A customer having to repeatedly give the same information across different touchpoints of one company will inevitably find his experience frustrating. Customers expect their interaction, regardless of whether by phone, internet or in person, to be seamless. Again, it’s about bringing the customer metaphorically inside the company and building everything around them, a process that is known as business design. One sobering way of looking at it is that with every business action that takes place, it can either add value to the customer or cost to the company. Additionally, if any company policy doesn’t impact the customer directly, does it need to exist?

Can we replace it with a step that adds value to customers & their experience with the product/service of the organization? 

Delivering delightful experiences

When the actions cited above are applied to bring about customer centricity, the result is that business plays a meaningful role in its customers’ lives. It also allows companies to reduce complexity and frustration, while unlocking innovation and opportunities, plus decreasing the cost of serving those customers. Today, customer reviews and social media mean you’re now only as good as your customer’s experience. Over 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. This is very significant as it validates the importance for brands to get their customers ‘service experience’ right as the traditional product/price proposition is no longer good enough.

So to improve net earnings and margins, the answers lies in how your customers (your source of wealth) are experiencing your organization’s delivery on its promise. 

Joe Ayoub - Brandcell CEO