Gestalt: How to become truly, madly, deeply customer-obsessed
by Leeya Hendricks (@LeeyaHendricks) It’s a fact of business that customers are more inclined to want to deal with you if you’re customer-focused — or, as some in the know call it, “customer-obsessed”.
Think about the implications of that: every time you frustrate your customer’s expectations, they have reason and opportunity to go to the competition instead. That is why there’s a direct link between your customer relationships and your sales and profits.
So, how do you become customer-obsessed? It begins with identifying the customer’s needs, wants and problems — the essence of customer-focused marketing. This uses customer data to guide and drive development of the company’s products or services (aka devising solutions to customer problems).
But even a customer-obsessed culture may err when it focuses too narrowly on specific touchpoints in the customer experience (CX).
In such cases, businesses are too close to the problem, and their attempts to problem-solve and transform are doomed to failure. Don’t solve for a specific touchpoint without considering the bigger picture of business objectives and customer needs. Individual touchpoints are, in any case, not always the cause of negative customer experiences. Customers are often not dissatisfied with one particular experience but with a range of unsatisfactory interactions with a business.
What does this mean organisationally?
Bringing about customer-obsessed transformation begins with getting buy-in, not just from organisational leadership but also from all the relevant project stakeholders.
A team armed with knowledge about what they’re seeking to achieve and the tools to achieve it is central to successful customer engagements, since it’s tasked with implementing the executive’s customer-centric vision. Without a change towards a customer-focused culture, organisations won’t be able to make the shift to customer-centricity.
In a sales environment, being customer-focused requires sellers to put themselves in customers’ shoes and see things from their perspective. This is difficult as it means ceding control to the customer and letting your sales focus be determined by customer needs, desires and ambitions — none of which will come naturally or be easily understood.
Why be customer-obsessed?
It’s simple: viewing things from the customer’s perspective helps us better understand customer needs and what products and services would work for them. It also helps us to support them better, and a customer can always sense an honest attempt to do so.
When there’s a problem, customer focus creates a rewarding mutual engagement between you and the customer: a project to solve their problem that is also a bonding experience. This means focusing on developing and instilling the right mindset and behaviour in your people. Is your main objective to help your customer and act in their best interests? Above all, it’s important to be sincere and genuine.
Activating this mindset involves putting your own priorities second and even your sense of self-importance. Ask yourself how best to service the customer. Think about what you would want in the customer’s situation to increase their level of satisfaction. Train yourself by making the most of service encounters in daily situations, no matter how big or small.
When done right, customer focus can help transform a company into an extraordinary one.
Enable customer obsession in your organisation by starting from the inside out. As Tim Hoskins put it, “Successful businesses usually have one thing in common. Every employee is obsessed with creating a positive experience for their customers. As an ideology, customer obsession means recognising that the people who have direct contact with your customers on a daily basis are closest to their successes and their failures.”
Leeya Hendricks (@LeeyaHendricks) is a designated chartered marketer, global marketing strategist, digital driver and a Women in Tech leader. She holds a BA degree in fine arts, a BA honours degree in brand marketing management, an MBA in business management and is completing her PhD in management sciences, focusing on the customer and business transformation. She is now director of customer first marketing at ORACLE UKI, responsible for driving customer success through customer advocacy, and building strategic partnerships focused on emerging technology and the changed customers’ buying behaviour. Leeya contributes the monthly column “Gestalt”, about putting customers first for sustainable business success, to MarkLives.
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