How to build a customer-centric culture?
The modern business environment has become increasingly competitive. It is well known that business success is directly related to how well customers experience and perceive their interaction with a brand. As a result companies have developed an increased awareness around their customers' needs and experiences - the customer-centric approach. When cultivated successfully, a customer-centric culture can reduce customer churn, build higher value customer relationships and also win the loyalty of new customers.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in establishing a customer-centric organisation lies in building a company culture that prioritises customer support in all levels of the business by:
- driving customer-centricity from the top
- measuring customer experience at every touch point
- communicating customer feedback to all levels of the business
1. Begin by driving customer centricity from the top – CEO
Traditionally sales and marketing departments vocalise the importance of customer-centricity. However, in other areas of the business, decisions are less often made with the customer in mind. In order for companies to successfully envisage, execute and maintain customer-centricity, a meaningful cultural shift is required. Past experience from MRM Support clients has proven that the shift is most successful when the improvement of customer experience is passionately and purposefully driven by the top management structures of the company.
The obvious relationship between increased customer loyalty and market share growth has always incentivised CEOs to drive CX programs. By dedicating time to interpreting customer feedback at executive meetings, CEOs can effectively start to drive customer-centricity from the top down. From our experience, the most successful programs usually involve an internal CX Champion or CXO with execution powers, brand ambassador training and workshops as well as a CFO who prioritises CX over short term savings.
In a customer-centric company, it becomes the priority of top executives to ensure that all levels of management are empowered to balance their operational and financial responsibilities with customer loyalty strategies.
2. Measuring customer experience at every touch point
Employees are building or destroying loyalty at every interaction in the customer journey. It is therefore imperative to understand the effect sales representatives, key account managers, call centre agents, creditors, help desk agents or store managers have on the experience of customers and their perception of your brand. It is ultimately these experiences that will lead to customers returning as “customers for life” or lost as "never seen again” ex-customers.
To better understand the effect your team members have on customers, a consistent and representative methodology is required to accurately measure your customer's experience. Most importantly the measurements needs to be:
- Representative - include all transactions in the sample lists;
- Accurate – a controlled sample, often best achieved through telephonic interviews in order to provide a more accurate representation of experiences. (Self-completion such as email and sms methodologies are usually biased towards emotionally charged customers.)
- Continuous – trends measured consistently over weeks, months and years are critical in understanding how any change, whether it be internal or external, may affect customer loyalty.
The first step is to insure that the customer feedback metrics are reliable and trustworthy, so that management can train and incentivise employees. Instead of teams feeling prosecuted, underperformers can be identified and assisted to improve.
3. Communicate customer feedback to all levels of the business
By increasing visibility around customer service and its impact, employees are able to observe the impact of their actions. Giving every individual employee an opportunity to reflect on conduct. How each frown, smile or prompt response may impact a customer, the company and themselves in one chain of interconnected consequences.
To best establish a customer-centric culture, all business activities needs to be linked to customer feedback. Management should be incentivised by the customer feedback scores of their line-of-business. Similarly, the success metrics of every process needs to include an element of customer satisfaction feedback in order to support senior management endeavours that drive customer experience improvements.
The result: improved customer loyalty
When customer-centricity is prioritised, a competitive edge becomes customer loyalty - a differentiator which is impossible to emulate by your competitors.
At MRM Support our aim is to assist clients in building a collective awareness of customer perceptions through customer research that is able to provide reliable measurements to unlock valuable discussions that cultivates a customer-centric culture.