If You Don’t Have a ‘Customer-Obsessed’ Culture, You’re Losing
Would you call your company “customer obsessed”?
It might sound extreme, but that’s the level of dedication retailers need to succeed in the current customer landscape.
Consumers have more choice now than ever before, and they’re not hesitant to exercise it. A single negative experience will drive one in three customers straight into your competitor’s arms, according to PwC.
Achieving customer loyalty depends on a retailer’s ability to consistently provide an optimal customer experience. Your brand should be a symbol of quality, convenience, and reliability.
How do you build this brand AND make it authentic to who you are as a company? The answer is by embedding these traits into your company’s DNA — by creating a customer experience culture.
How customer obsession becomes customer success
We needn’t look any further than Amazon to understand how a customer experience culture leads to overall business success.
“Customer obsession” is Amazon’s No. 1 leadership principle:
“Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
It’s this core value that has enabled Amazon to balloon from an online book retailer to a global “everything” retailer with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion.
When “customer obsession” is a top leadership principle, it becomes the anchor in every department, process, and decision. It is not a tactic to simply increase sales. It’s a fundamental characteristic of the organizational culture.
How to build a customer experience culture
Creating a customer experience culture requires a team effort from HR leaders and company executives. Together they must define which cultural traits will enable them to become customer-centric, inside and out.
Here are seven steps to get you started.
1. Define the customer experience you want to provide.
In general, customers desire a few key things from the companies with whom they do business, according to PwC: speed, convenience, friendliness, and knowledge.
A positive customer experience fulfills these demands. But it’s important to understand not only how to satisfy your customers, but how to wow them. Do you know what kind of experience will keep them coming back?
When you set out to create a customer experience culture, the first step is to define what the ideal customer experience looks like. The questions you need to ask are:
- Who are my customers?
- What do they want when they come to our website or store?
- What does an ideal customer experience look like to them?
Then you must ensure every member of the organization knows the answers.
2. Embed your customer experience expectations into your company philosophy.
Once you define what the ideal customer experience looks like, the next step is to articulate this vision within the company philosophy.
There should be a clear link between the philosophy and every organizational decision. This includes setting standards and expectations for staff, what skills and traits to look for in new hires, and employee training and development.
If you can’t use the company philosophy to justify a change, then the proposed change won’t support a customer-centric culture.
3. Make your company values customer-oriented and actionable.
Company values are the underpinning to your organizational culture. But it will be difficult for your employees to actualize them if they are too complex or abstract.
Organizational values should embody a few key traits:
- Customer-oriented — Do they support the ideal customer experience you’ve defined?
- Actionable on a daily basis — Is it clear to employees how to demonstrate them in their daily work?
- Relevant — Do your managers know how to discuss them with employees?
4. Hire for customer service.
Leadership may build the foundation for a certain type of culture, but it’s up to employees to uphold it.
In addition to experience and qualifications, it’s critical to assess candidates for cultural fit. A prospective employee might hold four degrees and years of experience in similar position, but if they don’t fit in with a customer experience culture, they will detract from it.
5. Prioritize customer service during employee training, onboarding and development.
This is important for all employees, not only employees in the customer support department.
You can groom new workers to become customer-focused by emphasizing customer service during new employee training and onboarding. Hone in on the company philosophy and values you’ve created, and make sure new hires understand what it takes to provide the ideal customer experience.
Current employees may require a nudge to buy into a broad cultural change. Use employee training and development opportunities to offer guidance, and clarify how a customer-centered attitude will help employees succeed in their roles.
6. Use technology to reinforce your efforts.
HCM platforms that can drastically simplify HR processes, consolidate important employee resources, and streamline communication.
However, it’s difficult to make the case for software adoption if it adds stress, not value, to employees’ daily lives. Implementing a platform such as Talentsoft[reg], SuccessFactors[reg] can support a cultural transformation, but only if the necessary resources and support are accessible to employees.
7. Demand accountability.
Making a lasting cultural change requires a high level of accountability across every level of the organization.
Improving the customer experience should not be seen as a vague goal. It should be clear to each individual how to support the transformation with defined performance metrics. These will look different for every department and role, but they’re essential for maintaining accountability.
Rewards and discipline are a critical part of accountability. Celebrate employee success whenever possible. When need be, intervene if an employee’s attitude or actions compromise the customer experience culture you’re trying to create.
Good things come to the customer-centric
Building a customer experience culture strengthens your brand in the eyes of consumers, and creates a more positive atmosphere inside the company walls.
Today, companies who do not prioritize the customer experience will be unable to compete with businesses whose make customer service part of their DNA. But with a customer-focused culture, every move your company makes will help set you apart in the eyes of your customers.