In this guest post, The Works CX lead Mike Jones (pictured below) says brands need to move away from customer centricity to customer obsession…
Often, well-intended companies proudly proclaim how customer-centric they are, saying things such as ‘We make the customer the centre of everything we do’. And this would appear to make sense because without customers, how would businesses or organisations exist?
However, while defining what it means to be customer-centric can spark debate, most agree it’s about providing products and services to give customers what they need.
But only delivering what customers need is no longer enough. What organisations need to commit to is delivering to customers what they want, even before they may know they want it.
Look at the difference between how eBay and Amazon go about servicing their customers.
Customer-centric eBay does a good job of delivering on the customer need of a shopping experience which offers good pricing, on a broad range of products, and provides a marketplace for sellers. If you asked customers what they needed, this wouldn’t sound too far from what they might say.
Customer-obsessed Amazon (their retail business) provides everything eBay does but focuses on what customers want. Rapid dispatch of products, check. A flat annual fee for free shipping, done. How about a single-press button or a voice assistant to order products, no worries. Then the add-ons like a music service, groceries, ebooks and audiobooks, and a competitive video streaming service included in the flat-fee shipping and you have something quite special. A company delivering customer wants that they may not have known they wanted.
And there are other examples where this is true. Samsung vs Apple; Pizza Hut vs Dominos; and a more local comparison, Captain Snooze vs Koala.
While in all these categories the products and services and largely commoditised, their differentiation is coming from the experience they can consistently provide their customers. That shift from customer-centricity to customer-obsession may feel like splitting hairs, but the experience enjoyed by customers is significant and instantly valued.
Customer-obsessed organisations move faster responding almost in real-time to what a customer wants. There is also a different cultural approach in organisations that are committed to customer-obsession. It becomes everyone’s responsibility to deliver for customers including adding it to job descriptions and KPIs. It becomes a part of the DNA of everything these customer-obsessed champions do and every decision they make.
The evolution of CX needs to be an always-on program.
Being a customer-obsessed business means pursuing a goal that 100 per cent of your customers and prospects will be delighted with the experience you provide them. However, there’s no sugarcoating that fact that if an organisation has more than one customer, which most do, it’s unlikely utopia will ever be reached. And in a way, that is the point.
Commitment to customer-obsession is the pursuit of a goal in the hope of getting close to the ideal, that is still likely fall short. But if businesses are continually trying to deliver on their customer wants all of the time, it’s far more likely they will deliver a greater experience for more of their customers than not.
With 89 per cent of companies recognising that customer experience is a key differentiator, the experience they create has become the new battleground. CX leaders see significantly greater annual growth over the CX laggards. And customers who have a great customer experience are significantly more likely to return and buy again.
Organisations need to commit to is the perpetual challenge of satisfying all of their customers, all of the time. And to do that a customer-obsessed culture is needed that is led from the top down.