It’s no longer enough to be a customer-centric business. In today’s competitive landscape, you need to be customer-obsessed.
Becoming customer-obsessed means all conversations and decisions are not only observed through the customer lens but “opined on by the customers themselves.” And the brands that listen to customers will glean valuable insight that will impact their biggest, most timely decisions. This hyper-focus on the customer means these companies will find themselves driving industry-leading innovation and disruption.
"In 2018, brands will evolve from a mere desire to be customer-centric to becoming customer-obsessed."
- Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical on MarTech Advisor
But changing the internal mindset of a company is never easy, so if you want to cultivate a culture of customer-obsession, here’s what the experts are saying you should do.
Expert tip 1: Be humble
A good starting point for becoming customer-obsessed is humility, writes Gerry McGovern for CMS Wire. And it makes sense when you think about it, as the opposite of being customer-focused is navel gazing.
Customer-obsession is about genuinely putting the customer first rather than obsessing about the company’s bureaucracy. But putting customers first is a challenge for most organizations they instinctively focus on their own needs.
“Humility involves constantly listening to and observing customers,” argues McGovern. “It means making decisions based on evidence of customer behavior, not opinion or ego. Most importantly, it means measuring success based on customer success, not organization success.”
Expert tip 2: Use customer feedback and data with care
Being customer-obsessed requires constantly gathering feedback from your customers and data about them. But as an insight-driven business, you must respect customer privacy and be good custodians of what you collect.
The pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is further magnifying the need for protecting consumer information. Data privacy has already been in the spotlight regularly with headlines exposing massive customer data breaches. Being customer-obsessed means recognizing that consumers are more sensitive about the data they share, argued Vision Critical CEO Scott Miller in a recent MarTech Advisor article.
Explained Miller, "Brands will need to prove to their customers that they are only obtaining and using the data necessary to them, but also that they are exploring innovative ways to deliver personalized, valuable experiences to customers in exchange for them sharing their data and their opinions."
Expert tip 3: Enable employees to get to know the customer
If you want to create a culture of customer-obsession throughout the organization, employees must understand customers as people with individual stories, argued Eric Berridge, co-founder of consulting agency Bluewolf, in a recent CIO article. This means everyone in the organization should feel an ownership of the customer experience and understand the connecting between customer-obsession and the bottom line.
So how do you create this customer-centric culture? Berridge’s advice is to include employee engagement in your strategy.
"[Your employees] want to be engaged and contribute in ways you may not even realize," he wrote. "Your staff produces the multiplier effect, the added profitable production that comes from their efforts. The more you can engage your staff, the more you can stimulate the multiplier effect."
There’s no “I” in customer-obsessed
Today’s brands need to be customer-obsessed if they’re to meet high consumer expectations. Customers are more empowered than ever before, which means your employees must be equally empowered to put customers first. And if you properly align your customer-obsessed culture with the bottom line, everyone will benefit, and your brand will go beyond just being customer-centric.