The biggest brands in the world have a lot of money in their marketing and advertising budgets. And, in the so-called ‘Age of the Customer’, much of this money is spent on demonstrating customer obsession; that delivering the optimal customer experience is at the core of everything they do.
While it is great to have brand ambassadors, such as a YouTube vlogger who will wax lyrical about a brand’s products to tens of millions of subscribers, organizations need to look closer to home to ensure that their customer-focused attitude is authentic. They need to look to the very top.
If your CEO isn’t your biggest brand champion, with a genuine belief in better customer relationships, how can you expect a culture and ideology of great customer experience to filter down anywhere else? If he or she earning the big bucks at the head of the company doesn’t care about their customers, who can blame the staff behind the counter on minimum wage for having a less than perfect attitude?
Take United Airline’s overbooking scandal from earlier in 2017. This issue of a passenger being forcibly removed was unpleasant enough, but a big contributor to the company’s loss of $1 billion from its value can also be attributed to the way its CEO mishandled his initial apology to the passenger in question.
Still, while not everyone would say that other CEOs like Jeff Bezos, entrepreneur Elon Musk, James Dyson or Tim Cook are perfect, they are certainly vocal about championing the customer experience. Take some of these quotes, for example:
“If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
“We take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it back into the customer experience. Then we let the customers be our marketing.”
Tony Hsieh, Zappos
However, we think that Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson sums up the situation best when he says:
“Setting customer expectations at a level that is aligned with consistently deliverable levels of customer service requires that your whole staff, from product development to marketing, works in harmony with your brand image.”
According to Forrester, along with a CEO leading from the front, introducing a culture of customer obsession requires five market imperatives to be met:
- Great customer experience that encourages loyalty and drive revenue
- Innovation with disruptive, customer-focused digital experiences
- Become an insight-driven organization to optimize products, services and operations
- Excel at marketing that listens to the customer and nurtures the customer relationship
- Use technology that delivers delightful customer experience and adapts quickly to their needs
Meeting these requirements may play well to a new tech startup but that’s not to say that more established businesses cannot adopt this approach too. Although such a transformation might not be immediate, or company-wide straight away (often, starting with a smaller customer experience project within a particular department is needed to highlights its importance to others), beginning such a change comes with added benefits – namely that better customer satisfaction frequently leads to increased employee satisfaction, creating what Forrester call a “virtuous cycle of success”.
The important thing is not just to push out marketing messages that tell the world how much you love your customers, but to ingrain that belief into the entire company’s thinking.
Marketers now have to focus more on the experience than the goal, simply because your customers and clients demand control of how they get from point A to point B. To do that, marketers need to understand the customer journey, as well as find new ways to intervene appropriately, at the best times.