Organisations need to make a concerted, sustained effort to become customer-centric, taking a strategic rather than a tactical approach, Qualtrics managing director Bill McMurray APAC says in this guest post.
While most companies recognise the importance of keeping customers at the forefront of everything they do, very few have been able to do so effectively. When building a customer experience program, too often people rush into it, without aligning all the necessary factors to move forward with creating a customer-centric organisation.
Organisations need to make a concerted, sustained effort to become customer-centric, taking a strategic rather than a tactical approach, according to Qualtrics.
Introducing a Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) program often leads companies to question their readiness to shift towards a customer-focused culture.
Organisations are rushing to implement a customer experience program to get closer to their customers but successful VoC programs aren’t ‘one-and–done’ initiatives. A customer-centric culture must truly be established in the organisation.
Qualtrics has identified six general factors that must align for companies to produce the optimal customer-centric culture.
- Strong leadership
Establishing a customer-centric culture starts at the very top. Without executive-level buy-in there is a low probability of creating maximum impact for any customer-centric initiative. Organisations also need to garner the support of lower level leaders to truly move the needle on improving the customer experience.
Leaders set the tone for their subordinates, so if a leader decides that the customer is important, their direct reports will follow suit.
- Vision and clarity
The company’s vision for customer experience needs to be specific so that everyone within the organisation can easily understand the common goal. Leaders should start by focusing on the language and messaging to convey the vision. It can be useful to create a clear vision statement and refer back to it often to keep projects on track.
- Engagement and collaboration
As employees become more deeply engaged, the resulting cross-functional collaboration and synergy will help create more impactful and successful customer initiatives. Driving engagement depends on understanding the workforce, which can be done through implementing a formal feedback program.
- Listening and learning
It is critical to get customer feedback as a basis for any changes, as well as to listen to employee feedback regarding how well these changes are working. It is therefore important to implement a systematic method for monitoring and collecting feedback.
Because customer feedback can be gathered via multiple channels, it’s important to build any listening program on a robust platform, like Qualtrics, that can pivot with customers as their feedback preferences change.
- Alignment and action
To achieve success, each action taken within the company must be aligned to the ultimate vision. Before acting, it’s important to analyse the root causes or drivers of things that need to be changed. Then leaders can assign people or teams to take measurable steps to make those changes.
- Patience and commitment
Building a world-class customer culture is not an overnight exercise; it takes time and cannot be completely outsourced. The most successful customer-centric organisations are built iteratively over a number of years.
Businesses need to alter the customer culture, refine collection practices, increase the complexity of analyses, and make action widespread and aspirational. All along this journey, business leaders must demonstrate patience and commitment to the process and vision.
More than ever, companies must leverage the customer experience to succeed. An exceptional customer experience is a true differentiator for brands, but in order to achieve this differentiator, organisations must own the success of their Voice-of-Customer program and embed a culture of customer-centric into the organisation.
This allows organisations to take action and respond to customers in real-time, to make a negative or okay experience, an exceptional experience and ultimately life-long customers.