Anticipating customers’ needs and how to effectively fulfill them is key to staying competitive in today’s global marketplace. To do this, companies need to shift their focus away from making sales and increasing their bottom line to building a customer-driven organization – one that is focused on delighting customers through offerings and information that are available when and where they need them. Creating a positive experience for customers before, during and after the sale can add value to a company by differentiating it from less experience-oriented competitors.
Traditional Business Model vs. Customer-Driven Business Model
Traditionally, most businesses have been built upon a sales-centric model and focus on meeting sales numbers and increasing market share — placing complete emphasis on the transaction. Although this may be a great short-term money-making approach, the customer is all too often left high and dry after the sale, leaving them to search for a better experience and new vendors the next time they buy. New-age organizations are quickly realizing customer experience has a direct impact on both initial sales and customer retention, so they are shifting their focus towards a customer-driven business model where customer care and product quality are recognized as the foundations of competitive advantage.
While a customer-driven structure sounds intuitive, not all businesses are ready for the shift. To prepare for success in an environment where sales are secondary and customer delight takes top priority, businesses must first understand the customer. Here are four tips to drive success in a customer-driven organization:
1. Build Customer Loyalty
Are a majority of your current customers not likely to recommend you to a friend or colleague? If the answer is yes, it’s time to assess your customer service initiatives and make changes – fast.
In the web-savvy, interconnected world, bad news travels quickly. Negative word of mouth can be instantly broadcast over social networks, and your customers are listening! In fact, it’s been reported that 80% of consumers say that opinions and recommendations from people they don’t know influence what they buy and what they think about products and services available in the market. Translation? You need to delight each customer — by offering quality products and services both before and after the point of sale – in order to nurture a community that sings your praises.
2. Track Your NPS
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become a standard tool for 21st century businesses looking to monitor the level of delight they bring to their clientele and it is a fundamental number in truly understanding how consumers view your brand. NPS quantifies loyal consumers by tracking the ratio of past customers who are likely to recommend a brand (they are known as “promoters”) to those who are not likely to do so (they are known as “detractors”). Organizations can use customer feedback from NPS to understand the motive for a promoter’s or detractor’s attitude towards their brand and in turn make appropriate changes to their customer service approach.
Food for thought – Apple, Inc. one of the world’s most profitable companies, closely monitors its NPS score and it plays a key role in the daily management of each of its stores. Apple reports that the most common reason for a consumer to become a promoter is the way store employees treat them.
3. Listen and React to Your Customers
Just as your company now meticulously measures and manages profits, you must also closely measure and manage customer feedback. Surveys, product and service reviews, blog comments and social media provide valuable knowledge and insight into your company’s strengths and weakness and each response must be treated as vital data.
As one of the most viral and most popular feedback forums on the web, conversations about your brand on social media cannot be overlooked when it comes to your evolving customer service strategy. Social media is a resource for harvesting personal data about your client base and offers a sneak peek into a consumer’s head. Here you can view what they want, who they converse with and the times they are most active online. Use this information to anticipate their needs and connect with your customers at the most opportune times.
4. Employee Branding
You’ve heard that a happy employee makes a good employee, but what if we took it a step further and said an employee who believes in your business is a brand ambassador both inside and outside of the workplace? Fostering a positive attitude within an organization is called employee branding and it’s all about working to enhance your business’ image from the inside out by making your team members your best brand champions.
Not only does a strong internal community create a happier workplace, but a January study by LinkedIn and TNS Employee Insights reports that engaged and enthusiastic employees are potentially a business’ best asset by way of productivity and customer satisfaction. The study also indicates that employees have a direct impact on customer perception of a business, as well as customer experience, advocacy and retention.
With a few changes in strategy, you can transform your company into a truly customer-driven organization — where making money is the result, not the goal – and set yourself on the path to long-term success all by putting the customer first. As the marketplace expands and consumer options grow, buyers have begun to spread their purchasing power across brands. In order to maintain a competitive advantage, businesses need to offer more than discounts and shiny new products; they must recognize and anticipate their customers’ needs. So what’s the bottom line? Delight the customer.