You can look at this issue in a couple of ways.
• My customers love my product and hence they are loyal.
• My customers are loyal because my products add meaningful value to their lives. Which do you think carries more weight?
Generally speaking, understanding this can change the way a business conducts itself. It is easier to focus on the products and internal processes to grow the bottom line and that is something you have intimate knowledge about, however, the most important part of growing the business is growing customers.
Without them- there is no business- no profits – no brand.
Ask yourself the following to know where you stand:
Have you seen a business without customers? And doing well too- may be not, and you never will.
Amazon attributes its success to “striving to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, offering vast selection, low prices, and fast delivery”. The foremost attribute being “customer-centric”.
We speak about giving the customer a great product and beyond that it is a great service by responding and following up on the queries and perhaps running a satisfaction survey and beyond that -what?
Being customer centric goes beyond all the above. The above can be condensed into:
Should we stop there? Does having a dedicated person answering phone calls and responding to customer queries being customer-focused? Is having a amount allocated towards customer service enough for your business- or any business? Do you think like your customer? Do you really know what your customer thinks about your product vis-à-vis the problem he is trying to solve? Is your customer fully satisfied with your product or has just compromised and got the closest product that somehow solves his or her problem?
Getting your customer to sing praises and posting reviews should mean much more than your marketing campaign. He or she is your biggest marketer- if you see and think like him or her and deliver beyond their expectations.
This is the common quality you will find in many successful businesses. They know their clients and cater to their demands -exceeding their expectations. Their customers are unknowingly their partners- helping the business achieve bigger heights. Have you achieved that rapport with your customer? Do you listen to them?
Traditionally- customers were wined and dined by the Marketing and Sales functions before and after signing the contract. Was that all? The customer would complain, and you could call or have your second meeting and promise to solve the issue. The problem would be passed on to the product or manufacturing department and the solution would go back to your customer and then a sigh of relief. Till the next problem rudely arose.
In the online space- you do not meet the client- leave alone wining and dining. You get emails about the issues and get negative customer reviews for the whole world to see. And- that’s it, because now you must go into a firefighting mode defending your reputation and the goodwill that you have worked so hard to build up.
You go on the defensive or offensive depending on the customer reviews. The review is there to stay till eternity. Your star rating take a dip and you need many more good reviews to come back up. There is a disconnect which needs to be fixed. Being customer centric like Amazon means not assuming what the product needs to do for the customer but understanding what the customer is trying to solve with your product and how you can make it easier and less painful for him to do that task. There lies the difference. The key is thinking like a customer, his problems, and the solutions he needs.
Do you really understand your customers’ requirements? Most often, companies make products they think customers will like and buy and then find their markets.
Can you do it the other way around? Perhaps not because you already have made the products. The better way would be to find a problem which you can solve and for which there are not many players in the market already making products. However, if you already have a product should you modify your products based on your customer’s requirements to meet or exceed his or her requirements? Absolutely- yes. That is a long-term strategy and game- if you want your business to be present in the long-term- this is.
Choice is the customer’s strongest weapon in his or her toolkit. Omnichannel communication is all about reaching customers on their preferred channels, how and when they want to hear from you. This approach not only increases convenience for customers, but also gives businesses the previously unavailable option of having contingency (or ‘failover’) channels to make sure that, one way or another, their message is delivered.
Do you want to be learning from your mistakes? Definitely. Forever- yes- however, do you want to continue making mistakes-never! As Bill Gates has said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. You don’t want unhappy customers but if you do- learn and change.
Customer centricity will help you do that.
According to Gartner- “Customer centricity is the ability of people in an organization to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations. Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services, and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy”.
We at TMAP LLC strive to ensure that your customers become your partners and work towards a mutual benefit. Our customer focus does not stop after the sale- our customer centricity strives to achieve the above so that we deliver on our promise to our customer- you.
We strive to enrich lives, one business at a time.
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