Customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal, for many organizations, this results in the continuance of operations and sustainability through profits. Maintaining customers – the pipeline of revenue – equals lifeline. Many organization s however struggle to find the right way of working that focuses on providing a positive customer experience.
There is a school of thought that says customer-centric is not the solution but the problem. This thought details that each customer will deem an organization is customer-centric if they satisfy their own needs, therefore making it nearly impossible to meet the needs of each customer and the approach is expensive to implement. However, organizations can still put in measures to consistently provide the best experience to their customers and in return, these customers remain loyal as well as use their word of mouth to market it to their close peers.
Below are a few actionable measures that organization can put in place:
Demystifying the customer-centric approach
A blanket approach will not be successful to an organization rather understanding the intricacies and seeking to answer – What does a customer-centric organization look like? How do you measure being customer-centric, what is the return on investment?
The needs of the customers vary and more so for organizations that cover different geographical and demographic diverse customers. Therefore, a strategy on how to implement this approach is necessary that includes understanding the customers, their varying and rapidly changing needs.
A customer-centric approach is a means not an end in itself – improving the customer experience is the end result. Organizations that were also initially founded as product-focused or sales-driven, need to develop a customer-centric strategy and operating model that requires culture and a mindset and shift in values in their staff to implement it.
Providing a customer experience (end-user experience) to staff
One way to help understand the customer’s journey is through providing end-user experience to staff, whereby staff use the products or experience the services as is if they were actual customers. This way they feel and identify areas that do not appeal to them and it increases staff empathy towards customers.
End-user experience can be done through immersion with customers, simulation exercises among others. Staff are empowered with an understanding to solve customers’ problems as if they were their own. They have ownership of the relationship with the customer, and thereby, create great customer experiences.
Training and development
When staff have a vast and in-depth internal knowledge base it fortifies the trust a customer has and ensures that their issues will be resolved quickly.
Training results in higher motivation and improved customer services skills two essentials in implementing the approach. Training on products and services, new developments on the same ensure that staff are equipped to provide the needed support and respond to queries in a shorter time.
The training should also involve all staff of the organization beyond the front line – when all staff are trained on the need to adopt a customer-centric approach, they feel part of the solution
Investing in innovation
Traditionally the only two-way interaction between a company and the consumer was at the point of sale and/or aftercare (which is often minimal and informal). With new advancements in tech in recent years, customers have a direct voice to companies 24/7, and consequently, their expectations and demands have risen. The rise of social media now means that every single interaction has the potential to be amplified to tens of thousands of people in a matter of hours. Spreading rapidly to reach global media outlets and major social media channels. Customer awareness has increased, as their needs, choices, tastes and preferences keep changing to respond to the rapidly fluctuating environment and trends. As this increase’s competition in the market, it also increases the expectations of customers. Therefore, upgrading products and services by adopting new innovations is paramount.
Open and frequent Feedback
To fully understand your customer’s requirements, it’s necessary to talk to them and evaluate their responses. This can help with innovation, product development and build a loyal customer base.
Without knowing what customers need and whether they are happy with the products and services or not, organizations cannot provide the needed solutions. A simple and easy way to obtain customer feedback is through customer feedback surveys.
Knowing your customer well is the best option an organization has at staying relevant in today’s world. While a variety of elements go into creating a successful business, customer service is centre stage. Every interaction the organization has with a customer (or potential customer) can affect its bottom line. Often, a customer-centric approach is what separates organizations that thrive from those that fail.
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Rachel Gathagu is a Learning and Development Specialist with over 15 years of professional development in the nonprofit sector. Currently Rachel is the Online Member Learning Manager with Humentum responsible for managing learning and development. This includes advising organisations on learning strategies, transforming them into learning organisation by implementing learning frameworks and processes that promote a learning culture. Rachel designs and develops digital learning, manages learning management systems, and designing customized learning solutions for their staff and providing benchmarking tools to measure organisations learning activities. Previously Rachel worked in ActionAid as the Learning & Knowledge Management Advisor and in Save the Children and CARE International in Project Management. Rachel holds a Degree in Business Management & Administration from St Paul’s University in Kenya and currently undergoing a Diploma in Employee Development and Training Management from Cambridge International College. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-gathagu-84900951/