Customer experience has been a topic of discussion for years, but marketing experts see 2016 as a game changing year.
According to John Arnold, vice-president of marketing at FullContact, “2016 will be the year of the customer. Marketers will be talking about customer-centric marketing, customer experience, customer journeys, customer insights and other ways of analyzing, attracting, delighting and obsessing over customers.”
Others echo that same sentiment.
Forbes contributor Tim Clark officially named customer experience as the central competitive differentiator in 2016, pointing to Gartner research. Clark further vetted his ideas when he quotes Damir Saracevic. “At the end of the day it all starts and ends with the customer journey. If it doesn’t, customers will simply go somewhere else.”
It will take more than a renewed effort to focus on customer service to please today’s multi-device, multi-platform consumer who expects every encounter with his/her chosen brand to be a seamless experience. Unless customer engagement becomes central to the organization’s core values, true customer centricity cannot be achieved.
A concerted effort in these three critical areas will establish forward momentum toward a more customer-centric approach.
1.Draft a Customer-centric Strategy
The foundation of a customer-centric model is a detailed road map that begins at where you are and outlines the steps required to get to where you want to be. Objectives and goals and milestones must come together to form a narrative. A detailed, every-angle-addressed document itemizing the strategy will establish the importance of the plan as well as provided a concrete record for execution and planning purposes.
Answering the following questions will begin the process to define the company’s strategic intent.
*Why do we exist?
*For what express customer need are we in business?
*For what do we want to be known?
*How do we communicate to the consumer our vision and mission?
*How do we deliver on this?
2.Breed a Customer-centric Culture
The necessity of “all hands on deck” cannot be overstated. The only possible way a customer-centric strategy can achieve success is for every employee to understand the strategy and buy into the game plan. Company-wide involvement that purposefully includes everyone from the bottom rung to the top – rather than only those with direct customer contact – is key.
If you can foster a culture that eats, sleeps, and breathes the ultimate customer experience as the company’s highest priority, you’re moving in the right direction.
3.Seek and Utilize Customer Feedback
Customers want to be heard. No, that’s not accurate. Customers expect to be asked for their opinions and insights and then for their feedback to make a difference. The younger the consumer, the more they want to “be on the team”, to feel ownership in the brands they support and recommend to their peers. They whole-heartedly believe their ideas are worth listening to. And for the most part, they are correct.
Establish user-friendly points for gathering feedback from your most loyal customers. Step two, of course, is to make timely analysis of said input and implement change accordingly.
Follow our blog for continued discussion on customer centricity. Next week we will discuss the customer-experience angle and then the following week, we’ll show you why customer-centric wins over customer focused.
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