Customer Centricity and Customer Obsession are two sides of the same coin, just with varying degrees of intensity. Customer centricity is a business model that focuses on providing positive experiences for customers, but customer obsession takes that a few steps further by actively disrupting organisational structures and regulations in order to mould the business to best fit their customers’ needs.
Customer Centricity and Customer Obsession are two sides of the same coin, just with varying degrees of intensity. But there are barriers between the two states that need to be overcome in order to be customer-obsessed.
Customer centricity is the starting point for any business to develop any customer obsession strategies, but there are barriers between the two states of being that need to be overcome in order to achieve ‘customer-obsessed’ status. Barriers such as corporate inflexibility, ineffective communication channels, and lack of employee engagement can seem like big tasks to overcome, but they are by no means insurmountable and are essential for turning customer-centricity into customer obsession.
Creating a Culture of Customer Obsession
A culture of customer-obsession is essential for this strategy to succeed. In order to become customer-obsessed, a brand must ingrain customer obsession into the very culture of the corporation. So how do businesses do this? How can customer obsession be ingrained so thoroughly into the culture of the workplace that it almost becomes second nature and evolves the business around customer needs? Well, there a few basic steps which need to be completed.
First is establishing or enhancing communication channels both internally and externally. Internally, communication between employees and departments need to be slick in order for information to be communicated efficiently. This is incredibly important particularly to remain in control of the information that is being passed around and relied upon for developments within the business, but also because it creates a better work environment by enhancing transparency and employee engagement within the firm. External communication is also just as important, as it provides a direct line to a business’ customers.
Incorporating customer-obsession into employee training schemes is another technique that could enable businesses to encourage employees to better adhere to the customer obsession strategy. There are a few ways this could be done. Firstly, by training all employees in basic market research techniques and mindsets can set up employees to interpret and use the data provided from research experiences to the advantage of the company. Secondly, hospitality training can be very beneficial for everyone, not just those on the frontline. This will equip employees with the ability to problem solve with the customer in mind.
But there is no point in training your employees to be customer-obsessed if the procedures and rules in place make it difficult for them. Creating a business that supports customer-obsession is incredibly important to the success of the strategy. When insight is gained into anxiety points within the customer experience, changing or updating procedures and policies to eliminate this anxiety will boost the customer’s experience and they are more likely to stick with you.
All of this will contribute to creating a flexible culture of customer obsession, which will form the base to build more customer-obsession sub-strategies off and can be evolved according to any new customer insights that are gained in the future.
Actively Seeking Out Customer Feedback
Actively seeking customer feedback is essential to building a successful customer-obsessed business. In fact, if you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: you cannot become a customer-obsessed brand without that vital input from your customers! Now this may seem simple, but it’s actually harder than you might think to seek out customer feedback without any biases or influence on that feedback.
So what steps can be taken in order to get the best, more accurate feedback possible? When I say ‘best’ I don’t mean ‘positive’. In fact, according to Amazon, the best feedback is negative feedback, because you know that it is most likely true and gives a fantastic starting point for the improved development of your business. But for this to happen, communication channels need to be established. Those external communications channels I mentioned before, this is what they are used for. Social media, online research communities, customer service helplines, review websites, there are many ways to gather this feedback. But these communication channels need to be slick, they need to be monitored in order to pick up as much feedback as you possibly can to feed back into your business and evolve it in accordance to what your customers want. Market research is a great tool to gather customer feedback in a variety of ways, but all for the same purpose of evolving business to suit the customer, to provide the best customer experience possible.
But, seeking out this feedback is useless unless you do something with it. Every piece of feedback is actionable in one way or another and taking that action is what truly defines a brand as customer-obsessed. Continually gathering feedback and using it to drive change is pivotal for the success of turning customer centricity into customer obsession.
Invest in Quality Market Research
One of the best ways to continuously gather customer feedback is through market research techniques. However, when conducting market research, the phrase quality over quantity cannot be overstated. Instead of planning a multitude of surveys to measure every aspect of the customer experience or opinion, conducting insight-led market research will enable businesses to naturally discover anxiety points within their customers’ experiences.
Not only will this insight-led research bring a higher return on research investment, it will also likely save businesses a sizeable amount of money that otherwise would have been spent on conducting scores of market research just for the sake of gathering as much data as possible. Working out which market research techniques work best for what type of feedback is needed will provide a good base for businesses to fully flesh out effective research experiences that provide copious actionable insights.
However, coming at this from a budget-first angle, the Zero-Based Budgeting technique allows businesses to invest in quality market research more smartly; rather than being handed a budget and working out a research project within that parameter, starting with a budget of £0 and calculating the cost of each element of the research project will enable businesses to create better, more profitable research experiences that prioritise quality over quantity. Being insight-led in your approach to market research will also play well into this zero-based budgeting tactic as follow up research tasks to certain insights can be budgeted for and conducted when needed rather than all of the research being conducted at once; thus businesses are able to generate more actionable in-depth insights that focus on improving aspects of the customer experience directly from relevant data collected from their customers.
What this Means
Creating a customer obsession strategy, or even making that leap from customer-centric to customer-obsessed, is not easy by any means, but with dedication brands can become the most successful version of themselves. Overcoming those barriers of corporate inflexibility, ineffective communication channels, and lack of employee engagement are key in making that transition, and will actually make it a lot easier to maintain a business’ customer obsession strategy over a longer period of time.
Active communication through a variety of communication channels and market research is the bottom line of customer obsession; but so is embedding the insights gained from this communication into the very fabric of the corporation, shaping it and letting it evolve in accordance to customer need to keep relevant and provide the best experience possible.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.