Take The Quiz: How Customer Centric Is Your Brand?


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How Customer Centric Is Your Brand
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

Many retailers claim to be customer centric. They’ll tout it in a quarterly statement or in the press. But words are meaningless if the brand experience doesn’t match.

Retailers that are customer centric demonstrate it on the sales floor every day. They provide a consistently great experience that revolves around the customer’s interests, behaviors (past, present, and future), and goals. Customers feel appreciated and special every time they engage with the brand.

How customer centric is your brand? Not just in spirit, but in reality?

Your responses to these five questions will reveal the answer.

Q: What’s Driving Your Business Decisions?

Retailers that play not to lose (versus playing to win) often make decisions that are self-defeating. To maximize profits, for example, they might cut staffing unilaterally across all stores—choosing to minimize, rather than optimize, their labor model. The result is predictable: store conditions spiral downward. Customers turn away in disgust.

You know you’re customer centric if . . .

. . . you’re not willing to let the customer experience suffer for the sake of short-term profits. You’re fully engaged in an ongoing effort to serve customers better. You’re willing to invest what it takes—and take significant risks—to create a customer-centric environment and continually refine it.

Q: What’s the Focus of Your Customer Experience Strategy?

We talk with our clients a lot about the “experience arc”—how a customer enters the store, expectations about the customer’s next move, and how store associates can help. As retailers go about mapping the customer journey, they must recognize there’s a very human element to the experience: What is the customer looking for, emotionally speaking, and how can brands deliver?

In his excellent book The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business, Richard Shapiro outlines the emotional needs retailers must meet to create loyal customers for life. For example, a seamless omnichannel experience is a must, but the brand’s focus should be on preventing frustration and helping customers feel a sense of control.

You know you’re customer centric if . . .

. . . you’ve not only mapped every touchpoint of the customer journey, but you revisit your map regularly. You understand the emotional nature of the customer journey, and your customer experience strategy is based on the goal of establishing an emotional connection at every turn.

Q: How Well Do You Know Your Target Customer?

You can’t please everyone all the time. Leading retailers know where their bread is buttered, so to speak, so they focus on their core customer. But they don’t cater to this group to the exclusion of everyone else.

So how do brands walk this fine line? Meaningful data, collected over time. Customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT) and loyalty programs are perfect vehicles for this.

CSAT capture demographic information and purchase size on an ongoing basis. We use CSAT to map out satisfaction based on certain aspects of the experience, and then we line that up with demographics and spend.

Loyalty programs bring in additional dimensions, such as frequency of visits and household income. Together, CSAT and loyalty programs help retailers effectively target their core customer base while maintaining a broader appeal.

You know you’re customer centric if . . .

. . . you invest in ongoing customer experience management and loyalty programs, and you use the data to identify and understand your target customer and to create a customer experience that resonates.

Q: Are Your Customers in the Driver’s Seat?

When you survey or interview your customers, you’re asking them to help shape your brand. Your customers want to be heard, but they want something in return for their input. They expect you to follow up and follow through.

Of course, for all the voice-of-the-customer programs we manage, we receive more than 2 million responses a year. We might see 750,000 different suggestions for improvement. No company can execute on that volume of feedback. But leading brands start by going after the low-hanging fruit—the most popular suggestions that are easiest to implement—to get the biggest bang for their buck.

You know you’re customer centric if . . .

. . . you acknowledge and thank your customers for their feedback and their business. You move to address your customers’ biggest pain points before introducing larger changes incrementally. You measure the response at each step, and you build on previous wins.

Q: Are Your Customers Feeling It on the Sales Floor?

This comes back to lip service versus sales-floor reality. Your customers don’t care what you say. They care about how you make them feel. They want to know you care enough about them to roll out the red carpet each time they visit.

It’s not just about store conditions (although as I mentioned earlier, those are crucial). It’s also about a superior customer engagement marked by brand enthusiasm, product knowledge, and a sincere desire to help.

You know you’re customer centric if . . .

. . . you maintain a robust associate training program that’s interactive, experiential, and ongoing. Your associates are more knowledgeable than your customers, allowing them to draw product distinctions and help customers make informed decisions. Suggestive selling isn’t a scripted ploy, but a sincere effort to bring every customer journey to a successful conclusion.

Remember: Even Leading Retailers Don’t Get a Perfect Score

There’s no way to get a perfect score on this quiz, because customer experience excellence is a moving target. The highest scores belong to retailers that break the mold, again and again, to better serve their customers. Retailers that rest on their laurels or develop a bunker mentality languish at the lower end, where they continue to lose points to the competition.

What did you take away from this quiz? Do you think it covers all the bases? Please let us know in the comments below!

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This article was originally posted to our blog where you can find more posts like this at ICC/Decision Services Blog.

Kevin Leifer
Kevin and his team at StellaService help their clients build solutions that optimize front-line team performance and improve customer experiences across contact centers and stores.


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