By Nathalie Schooling
Once upon a time, there was a business that developed the best product and brought it to market… that was enough to guarantee them optimum market share and great success.
These days, that kind of success story is nothing but a fairytale, and businesses who do not make the customer experience a central arc of their storyline will not live happily ever after.
Customers today are discerning – that is because the access they have to information and to alternative suppliers of products and services is virtually limitless. For this reason, if your customers are dissatisfied, the chances are they can find satisfaction elsewhere at the touch of a button.
Businesses have to strive for so much more than traditionally-perceived value to remain current in today’s market filled with savvy, demanding consumers.
There are, in grossly simplified terms, two types of businesses:The first type is product-centric – an internally-motivated organisation, where they look inward for their potential and provide a product or service that reflects the very best of their capabilities.The second type is customer-centric – an externally motivated business that puts the end user at the forefront of every business process, acting on insight to provide solutions that customers want rather than merely marketing them as such. This intuitive, emotionally intelligent, human-centred style of doing business is what differentiates the winners from the losers.
Most businesses profess that their customers are important to them. It should be a no brainer, but in my experience though most businesses claim to care about the customer, not that many absolutely mean it (and even fewer make their customers’ experience a company-wide imperative).
The product does matter, but it is only part of the picture
If you are selling a commodity, product or service, there needs to be something that makes what you are offering stand out from the crowd. A business that is not at all product-centric will ultimately fail because the proof is in the pudding. Always.
That said, customer centricity is where the differential really lies. Creating a customer-centric brand should be the ultimate goal for all organisations, and that is because the two focuses are not separate at all – the product, service or commodity at the centre of your business is all part of a bigger CX picture.
Service and product design both need to be exceptional
There is no point striving for excellence in one without the other. The synergy resulting from a cohesive strategy that connects all the dots of your customer’s journey is powerful.
We have done several studies over the past few years on how to measure the impact of customer satisfaction on business growth, and how a customer-centred business model resulting in high levels of customer satisfaction, can result in a business scaling up more rapidly than its competition.
In our White Paper, Client Satisfaction: A Direct Impact on the Bottom Line, we explored our model for measuring customer satisfaction, Return on Client SAT Index (ROCSI), and how it could predict sales activity over time. Using a predictive model, we were able to suggest a strong correlation between client satisfaction and positive sales trends. Our statistical analysis showed that it was safe to conclude that high levels of client satisfaction can lead to a considerable increase in sales performance over time – bottom line increases of up to 30% were entirely feasible.
The evidence is compelling
With the ROI in improving customer satisfaction so high, it is of the utmost importance that all organisations looking to achieve growth should strive to turn their business model inside out, from product-centric to customer-centric.
Becoming customer-centric is about achieving a way of doing business so that every individual, in every team, in every department, is responsible and accountable for creating a positive customer experience at every stage of the customer journey. It involves getting to know your customer to the point where you know what they want before they do. Communicating with your customer on a human level and understanding their journey so that no stone is left unturned when it comes to weeding out potential pitfalls.
It is my belief and experience that many people misperceive that transitioning to a customer-centric business model is about having a CX lead at the top of the organisation, but a truly customer-centric business is not about one person making 1 000 small changes. It should be about 1 000 people in a large organisation making one small universal change. The effect is far more profound this way.