Why Being a Customer-Centric Company Is Essential To Your Brand’s Longevity
by Blackwood Impact Group
When business leaders look to improve their customer service, some think the department is a natural progression from Sales. As such, these companies allow the sales manager to take the lead. Others believe the Marketing department should spearhead innovative changes for Customer Service. But because happy customers are critical to providing a consistent flow of revenue into the company, we at Blackwood Impact Groupthink the Customer Service department is an Operations function and should fall under its leadership.
Customer Service is deeper than handling angry customer calls or composing a PR-approved response to negative feedback on Facebook or Google Reviews. Customer Service is a critical component of your company’s customer experience. Customer experience is a central component of your brand’s identity. It is essential to keep in mind that every interaction your team members have with your client base or prospects has a direct impact on the longevity of your brand.
The Importance of Being Customer-Centric
Statistics on the importance of customer service have abounded for years. A few gleaned from Help Scout include:
- It is 6-7 times more expensive to obtain a new customer than to retain existing ones.
- Companies are 14 times more likely to generate new sales from existing customers than new ones.
- 62% of consumers switched to a different company or provider because of poor customer service.
Still, many companies remain sales-centric: focused primarily on continually generating new sales and increasing profits. The irony is that having a “customer first” approach will help your company achieve its revenue goals and lower new client acquisition marketing costs with a higher return on investment (ROI) in the process.
According to Leslie Cottenje of SAAS outfit Hello Customer, “Customer centricity is an approach to doing business that focuses on providing a positive customer experience to drive profit and gain competitive advantage.” Creating those positive experiences, requires a culture shift at the core, operational level of your business.
Clients of customer-centric businesses experience seamless care and attentiveness, no matter which department of the company they deal with; it is particularly evident when they interact with the designated Customer Service team. In Blackwood Impact Group’s opinion and experience, Customer Service and customer-centric initiatives are best guided by the Operations team.
We are not alone in our viewpoint. Online retailer Zappos.com has long maintained a reputation for being customer-centric, and they have the profits to prove the success of their approach. Another brand that most would consider highly successful by any standards is exemplary in how they execute an operationally-driven customer-centric approach in their businesses: Apple
How Apple Exemplifies A Customer-Centric Approach
Apple products are known for ease of use and fewer system viruses and crashes than their Windows-based counterparts. But when you do have an issue, Apple turned what could potentially be problematic interactions into pleasurable, even profitable experiences.
Customer service is front and center at all Apple retail locations. The aptly named Genius Bar provides people with a sense of accessibility to the help they need. The highly trained “geniuses” are experts placed throughout the store to service both new and existing customers.
As existing Apple product owners wait on their repair, they are in an environment to explore the latest products and accessories with Geniuses on hand to guide the decision-making process. Recommendations from them are positioned as being helpful to the customer’s ownership experience with Apple products, rather than a “hard sell.”
According to ARCA’s Apple’s Genius Bar® white paper, “The full-service feature is the brainchild of Ron Johnson, the ex-Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple, who modeled it after concierge desks at upscale hotels. Johnson thought — correctly as we now know — that Apple customers would appreciate the immediacy and intimacy of service that this feature would allow. Despite initial data that indicated it wasn’t working, Johnson remained resolute that Apple was in the customer relationship business and moved forward with the concept. The rest is retail history.”
Since the Genius Bar launched in 2001, Apple retail stores have seen massive growth in foot traffic to their stores with the runaway success of the iPhone. As times change, Apple continues to adapt. According to Business Insider, over the last few years, Apple has been focusing their efforts to redesign the physical store layouts and the Genius experience to combat increased crowds and service wait times. Apple continues in its customer-centric focus knowing that their retail space experience has the power to make or break their customer’s loyalty to their brand.
How Your Brand Can Begin Implementing Customer-Centric Strategies
Your company is likely working hard to attract new clients; why not put equal, if not greater, energy into keeping them? Being a customer-centric organization can differentiate you from your competitors and help foster fierce brand loyalty. Client attrition slows down when your customers feel you genuinely care about their concerns and will go above and beyond to right any wrongs.
To create this reality for your clients, would require several operational changes. For one, client data must be readily accessible across all departments in your company. You may need to change permissions, accessibility, and other configurations inside all of your data-warehouses such as your CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning and accounting software). If the critical software that helps you run your business does not easily integrate with two-way information flow, you might want to consider investing in a new all-in-one software solution.
Operational procedures for each department also need to be revisited, revised, and documented. New and existing team members should be trained continuously on how to deliver the customer-centric experience. Investing in communication training can also have a positive impact on how your team interacts with your clients.
Customer-centric companies also listen to their client base. Use all of your customer feedback channels to address the concerns your clients have. Be nimble as an organization to make necessary changes. Also, pay attention to the highly requested product features and services. Direct your research and development budget and time towards creating and delivering when your clients want. You can also use their feedback to be anticipatory. Stay on top of trends in your industry and be the first to provide a product or service your clients didn’t even know they needed, but now that they know about it, they can’t live without it. Just look to Apple as a great example to emulate.
The process of developing a customer-centric culture forces you to think through how your clients would like to be treated at every step of their encounters with you, from your website to your social media, to your sales team, billing department, and of course, your customer service team. The investment pays off with a stronger brand, increased sales from existing customers, more clients by referral, and lower Cost-Per-Customer marketing spends.
If your company needs help to develop and executing your customer-centric strategy or revamping your customer service team, Blackwood Impact Group is here to help. We help small to enterprise-level businesses reimagine their Customer Experience (CX) Strategy and Customer Service teams. We can help you with your:
- Value Proposition Development
- Customer Segmenting & Targeting
- Go-To-Market Strategy
- Customer Growth Strategy
Contact us today at 770-502-6295 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more through a no-obligation consultation.