As consumer expectations rise and their behaviors continue to evolve, companies must prioritize and invest in opportunities that improve the customer experience. However, it’s hard to know where to start and what steps to take to confidently navigate these changes.
But there’s a principle that works in virtually any context: Your customers are your north star. You can look back throughout history and find countless examples of customer-obsessed companies simply trouncing the competition. Think Amazon, Apple, REI, Zappos and many more. Customer-centricity almost never fails.
What makes these companies so successful is not merely their prioritization of the customer, but how that obsession impacts everything they do up and down the value chain. In other words, their focus on the customer is the catalyst for business change that positions them to achieve competitive dominance. With Broadridge’s latest CX and Communications report showing that 56% of North American consumers say the pandemic has permanently changed how they interact with companies and 65% feel most providers need to improve the customer experience, now is the time for leaders to rethink their CX strategies. Here are a few ways that companies can prioritize customer-centricity to maintain customer loyalty and carry their brands forward in an increasingly competitive landscape.
#1 Invest in your people.
If you want to promote long-term growth and success, you don’t start with the bottom line. You start with your associates. Why? When you invest in your people and treat them well and emphasize professional development, you’re then more likely to instill a sense of workforce satisfaction and pride. Pride matters because there’s a direct link between workplace satisfaction and customer satisfaction. A recent study published in Harvard Business Review compared Glassdoor employee reviews to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The authors found a clear correlation: “Each one-star improvement in a company’s Glassdoor rating corresponds to a 1.3-point out of 100 improvement in customer satisfaction scores.”
Another recent analysis found that companies with highly engaged employees outperform the competition by 147 percent. These data points confirm something intuitive we recognize as customers. Employees who feel valued and engaged are more empowered to advocate for their organization and deliver the best possible experience to customers.
#2 Never stop testing.
In my time at Broadridge, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients relative to transforming their paper-only communications into meaningful, omni-channel experiences. After more than a decade, one thing I can say for certain is that digital transformation, no matter the industry, involves a lot of trial and error—and, yes, a lot of failure.
When asked about their communications-related goals, clients will often say “less paper.” And when we ask about why they haven’t achieved their goals yet, we find that the value proposition to the recipient is missing. Digital transformation cannot merely involve digitizing a paper experience. As our recent survey revealed, 87 percent of consumers believe it’s important to have a simple way to interact with companies across all channels.
Enabling a seamless omni-channel experience requires businesses to reimagine the entire journey, from start to finish. So, the question is: How can you understand customer preferences and behaviors at each stage on that journey?
The answer: Test and learn— and test and learn some more.
Customer-obsessed companies invest in testing UX because it’s the best way to gain insight into their customers. When you test experiences and parse the user data, it ensures you stay attuned to what your customers want and need during every phase of the customer lifecycle.
The best part is that a strong testing regime takes the pressure off your team and your creatives. You don’t have to get everything exactly right. You just need to position your team to pay attention to the data and make constant refinements.
From there, whatever drives clicks, wins – personalization, relevancy, meaningful content, timing, etc. Testing your experiences helps to make you far more responsive and agile, ready to adapt as new trends evolve.
#3 Reimagine data usage to create personalized customer experiences.
For good reason, companies usually want to start by trying to personalize their communications and customer-facing experiences. In fact, 74 percent of consumers – and 82 percent of Millennials – prefer for their experiences to be customized and personalized based on what the company knows about them, according to our recent survey.
Wanting to personalize experiences is not enough on its own. One of the first things leaders should ask themselves is: How do you store customer data? For example, when we look at our bank clients’ different lines of business—banking, mortgages, loans, and investments—we often find several fragmented systems with duplicate customer profiles across each. So, invariably, the first thing we stress is that you can’t transform the customer experience unless you first transform your data management.
When you move all your customer data onto a single platform, it empowers you to streamline back-office processes. In turn, you can consolidate customer preferences and gain a single view of every customer. The result? A more relevant, personalized customer experience and cohesive communications ecosystem.
The customer experience should not, of course, drive all decision-making. Clearly, several other factors—like cost and efficiency—matter too. That said, when businesses prioritize the customer experience, their purpose is clearer and decision-making is easier. Put the customer at the center, and positive downstream benefits tend to naturally follow.
Bottom line: If you’re not sure what to do next, your customers will tell you—if you’re paying close attention.