We see examples of customer-centric operations in business sectors, such as: healthcare, hospitality, finance, and consumer products, but, by and large, these same operations, which are supposed to be more customer-centric are the ones that are not.
Giving the customer the highest degree of importance has obvious benefits. If you would like to make your company more customer-centric, here are a few steps that you can take:
1. Interact Directly with Customers
The best example of direct interaction is Amazon, a company that asks the customer directly for their opinion, in order to build the ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company.’
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To implement it, the CEO and the board of directors interact closely with the customer base through various surveys and social media platforms, to build better relationships. Close social interaction turns the customer into a vital part of the company, itself, ensuring that customers never feel like they are just a transaction. When a customer is regarded as part of the company, their value multiplies for employees and new customer prospects.
2. Align Employees by Setting Goals
Customer-centricity happens when everyone is on the same page. Each employee puts themselves in the shoes of their customers, to better understand how to approach each given task.
Arrange multi-department brainstorming sessions, with representatives from each department within the company, or, in the case of smaller companies, the entire staff together.
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Airbus is one such large organization. It brings all the departments within its structure together to generate ideas. Enhancement of customer experience is the focal point of these meetings, and they have proven very fruitful so far. Other examples who adopt this whole-system methodology include: Allstate and NASA.
3. Understand Customer Demands Precisely
Gear the entire company’s efforts toward fulfilling the demands of the customers whom they are serving. This direct involvement in serving the customer changes the attitude of each employee and management, making everyone more customer-centric.
Closely monitor the behavior of customers and their opinions regarding the company. Review forums, social media platforms, and blog sites are the best places to look for such feedback online. For physical indications, compare your direct sales numbers with those of your competitors.
The best example of this is Apple, whose customer research policy is built into the live customer service procedures. You are politely asked about your preferences, your specifications are noted, and all the collected data contributes towards building a better product.
4. Channel Customer Feedback into Improvement
Understand and act upon what customers write and communicate about a company or their product as soon as possible. The customer is more likely than ever to adopt another company’s services if no change is seen instantly. There are a multitude of options and reduced attention spans, so act expeditiously. Making immediate changes also has the added advantage of giving the impression that the company actually cares about its customers.
Using customer analytics is one way to act quickly and make effective, data-driven decisions, and nobody uses it better than Netflix. Netflix went to the length of offering a $1 million prize to anyone who could design an algorithm that would capture customer behavior in the most accurate manner. To this day, they continue the practice utilizing award-winning algorithm, resulting in Netflix taking over the on-demand streaming industry by storm.
Some of the best examples of customer-centricity come from industries and organizations that are completely different from your own. When you hunt for ways to improve your customer approach, think about how you would like to be treated as a customer and design a program from there. In computer programming, we refer to this as user-side testing to my programmers. I tell them to become the customer after they are done. Did they experience it in a way that made them smile? If not, go back and try again, because chances are when they turn over the working code to me, if they aren’t smiling, I won’t be smiling either.
One of the Top 100 Coaches, and Founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, partner to Newsweek on America’s Most Loved Workplaces, and the author of more than 10 books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him as one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide.