Are you working for the customer’s success or are you working to increase your profits this quarter? Honestly, the answer is probably both, but the two are more interconnected than you might think through a customer-obsessed mindset.
A popular and often misunderstood buzzy catchphrase, customer obsession means building deep, long-lasting relationships with customers by putting them at the center of your business. It’s a scalable, cultural change. It isn’t a one-off good deed that lands the brand in the headlines.
Customer obsession extends beyond offering excellent customer support. It bleeds into every area of work. Don’t forget to save your customers a seat at the table when considering these aspects of your business.
In the Numbers
If someone is obsessed with a celebrity, they likely know everything about him or her. A customer-obsessed company treats its customers the same way.
The easiest way to get to know your customers is through data. If you’re not already collecting data and analyzing it, you should be. To gather a holistic picture of your customers, you’ll need several streams of varying types of information:
- Demographic: Who is your customer? Where do they live? How much money do they make? How many kids do they have?
- Behavior: This data comes from point-of-sale or tracking users on your website. How do they access your website? What page do they exit on? What page in the checkout process do they spend the most time on? What type of payment methods do they prefer? Do they utilize your rewards program?
- Feedback: Think things like follow-up surveys and in-person focus studies.
Numbers don’t lie. The data will both back up what customers are saying and reveal what they won’t tell you outright. For example, a customer likely doesn’t have the right words for explaining how your online checkout process isn’t user friendly, but some well-worded questions in a follow-up survey might help them translate their thoughts.
“Being customer-obsessed means listening to their concerns and feedback and collaborating with them,” says Nu Skin president Ryan Napierski. “Companies cannot advance if they fail to build and sustain customers’ trust.”
At Nu Skin this looks like surveying customers annually on over 52 areas of the business. The company turns this data around to better understand their customers and where Nu Skin could improve.
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Collecting the data is just the first step. Being truly customer obsessed means returning to this data at every turn. The data should become a touchpoint for all decisions in every department. By doing this, customers will feel heard and understood in a way that makes them think you’re reading their minds.
In Product Development
You might think your newest idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But what’s it worth if your customers don’t value it? By being customer obsessed at the product development stage, you’re bringing customers in on the ground floor and innovating with them in mind. Putting them at the center means you’re thinking more about changing your customer’s life for the better instead of making another buck.
The key is to know the problem you’re solving. For a budget software, the competition isn’t Quicken or Mint; it’s people with debt. Don’t focus on what competing products are doing and how they’re acquiring customers. Instead devote your creative energy to figuring out how to solve the problem for your customers. After all, when someone seeks out a product or service, they’re looking for a solution to a problem. To offer customers products they care about means you have to know your customers as real people with everyday problems.
Amazon, an infamously customer-obsessed company, engages this process by writing a press release detailing the product, what problem it solves and why it’s a success.
“It also forces the team to start with the customer — again, working backward — rather than a set of features,” writes Jeff Gothelf, author and organizational designer. “It forces the team to understand the purpose of the work they’re doing rather than just the construction and delivery aspects.”
In Customer Support
Maintaining positive customer relationships is a baseline element of good business. Customer obsession meets customer support when you are first for customer success, meaning you want the customer to solve their problem even if your product isn’t the solution. It’s a service strategy that’s relational, not just transactional.
“The more we understand what’s motivating our customers at a personal level, the better we’ll be able to partner with them to reach their desired outcomes,” writes Walter Rogers, CEO and CCI of Global Holdings.
It’s important for everyone, even the CEO, to remember your customers are real people with real needs. On a practical level, this looks like rotating all levels of staff through shifts on the support desk. If the marketing team spends an afternoon answering support queries, they’re more likely to remember the real humans they helped next time they’re talking about promotional strategy. On the customer’s end, it’s important that they know real people are answering the phone and support chat. Do this by empowering support workers to engage with customers person-to-person by working to truly understand the problem and not just operating off a canned script.
Related, consider how customers contact you and how your team is handling requests. A quick turnaround time helps customers know they’re important to you.