In recent years, the term customer-centric in marketing, service and product development has often meant the integration of tools and methods such as data collection, design thinking and testing. All these factors play a key role in customer-centricity. But for me, is one thing above all else: leadership. Working on people. And with people. It’s the way companies and their employees work together to shape the relationship with their customers. Or not.
It’s important to understand that a focus on the customer also contributes to employee motivation. Dutch bank ING has already established customer-centricity as an integral part of its employee goals – and thus motivated all employees to bring products and services with agile iterative processes closer and closer to the measured customer needs. With impressive results: since 2014, the number of primary customers has increased by 25%. So the question is, how can this enthusiasm be used strategically for a company? The system I would like to introduce here is called “The 7 Ps of customer-centricity”, providing a solid framework leadership and cooperation in the age of the customer.
Customer experience is a strategic change that takes time. Allow yourself and your team enough time and training for the new way of doing things. Likewise, encourage your team to exchange experiences between themselves on this.
Always remind yourself and your team that customer experience does not only concern the marketing and communication of your company but the wider digital transformation of your company. If there is one thing you can learn from start-ups is that they are constantly radically improving access to their customers, employees and resources.
Also, working with Business Intelligence will ensure that data about your customers and competitors is always available as insights for decision-making. If internal data is not accessible for this purpose, it’s recommended to use “social listening” for initial information in order to gradually expand it. The better you understand your customers, the more targeted you can meet them.
Customer experience affects the entire company. A good way to engage employees is creating personas that represent your target audience and presenting them to the entire organisation, e.g. by having such profiles hung up in offices and discussed regularly. When business challenges are discussed, it helps to have these profiles as a reference point for the conversation.
Always ask yourself questions together as a team when making decisions:
- What would the customer think?
- What would the customer do?
- What would the customer appreciate?
- What can I do to improve the customer experience?
- Would I do that with my mother?
Nominate “customer ambassadors” within your teams. This will help other employees see how to improve their social communications using the ambassadors as examples.
Actively look for possibilities to bridge silos in the interest of the customer and promote them!
Encourage cross-departmental learning from each other. The better people understand what your work is about and that you are working for common goals and customers, the more your work makes sense.
Rely on excellent content. Externally and internally. Content that really helps your customers and employees. For example, when merging departments, it makes sense to have the specialist departments prepare relevant questions such as ‘Who can I contact regarding my move?’. Employees are also customers and greatly appreciate customer-focused measures that help them to meet challenges.
Clean up your CRM: Today it is more important than ever to have clean and clear which customers can be contacted and how. For a customer-centric approach and a sustainable business model like subscriptions, you need a stable CRM.
Studies show that companies now spend up to 95% of their marketing budget to convince people who have not yet shown interest in their company. A long and arduous path. People who have already shown interest, on the other hand, appreciate a consciously appreciative approach.
Use a tidy CRM as a starting point for further thinking about your customer platforms from the customer’s perspective. Which service can you use to provide comprehensive digital support for your customers’ problem solutions, especially beyond the core service (need for information, interaction, …)?
Check the use of marketing, sales and communication and measure the results. Include customer satisfaction as a KPI for evaluating the work of your teams. If necessary, this may need to be weighted according to the situation in individual teams. However, if your overall corporate goal is to optimise customer contact, this must also become a success factor.
If you want enthusiastic customers, you need enthusiastic employees – and you see employees as customers. This makes conscious contact with employees and customers vital to achieve the right purpose.
Make sure that you really deliver on your service promises to your customers and continuously optimise them. A good customer satisfaction software can help you collect, organise and manage feedback.
About the author:
Johannes Ceh helps companies to align digitization with customers and employees. Customer centricity, new forms of collaboration and digital responsibility were already the focus of his work during his time at Springer & Jacoby, Jung von Matt, Ogilvy, Sport1, Sky, BMW and Daimler. Today Johannes Ceh passes on his experience as a consultant and author, among others for the market research company Gartner.