Have you noticed that many articles proclaim a number of different things “king” these days? For example, data is king, content is king, mobile strategy is king — all of these are primary areas on which businesses today focus heavily. But to what end? Arguably, making these things “king” is all for the ultimate goal of delighting customers in some way, which boosts sales.
So why not simply make the customer “king”?
Customer centricity speaks to putting the customer at the heart of everything you do as a business and world-class customer service company. Today’s customer expects immediate answers and instant gratification. You may have a fantastic product or service, but if you don’t put an outstanding customer experience at the center of all your business planning, the great product and service are for naught. Gartner underscores this notion. According to the Gartner Customer Experience Survey, 81% of respondents say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of customer experience in two years’ time.
Every company says they want to provide world-class customer service, but almost all fail at it. There are a few reasons for this. One is the lack of a customer-centric business culture. The culture at most companies is product-focused or sales-driven, with customer centricity earning top billing within marketing only. Creating a customer-centric culture begins at the top, with business leaders who cultivate a customer-centric mindset, embody customer-centric values and demand a laserlike customer-centric focus from their employees.
Another reason businesses fail at customer centricity is because most spend the lion’s share of their budget to maximize their sales and marketing; conversely, the smallest part goes to customer service. A customer-centric organization would do just the opposite. This transformational concept is called minimum viable experience. Minimum viable experience puts forth the argument that, unless a business can support its customer incredibly well, it is not entitled to have that customer. So, rather than spend a disproportionately large amount of money on marketing and sales, a business following the minimum viable experience concept will spend whatever is necessary on customer service to keep existing customers happy.
Failing to make your customers a part of your product or solution also detracts from customer-centricity, mostly because it doesn’t take into account the point of view of the actual user. To get around this, create customer councils or customer community engagement platforms. Another way to make your customers a part of the solution is to ask them to submit new product ideas that are then voted up or down. Include the top customer functionality ideas for each release cycle in the updates.
The final reason that businesses fail at customer centricity is because they don’t see their employees as integral to the customer experience. Employees are at the front lines of customer experience, and can impact it through their one-on-one interactions with customers as well as their back-office decision-making. According to the Temkin Group, companies that excel at customer experience have
“Customer is king” shouldn’t be regarded as a concept; rather, businesses should embrace it as a mission, weaving it into the fabric of the organization. That way, a truly customer-centric company — coupled with great people delivering great solutions — provides the foundation for success that cannot be undermined.