Frustrated customer

Everyone’s talking about customer experience, yet a surprising number of companies are a long way from operating like a well-oiled customer-centric machine. Even if your business has good intentions, some common themes may be rippling through your organization that are holding you back.

Here’s a look at five tell-tale signs where companies lose customer focus, and how to get on the right track.

  1. “We know what’s best for customers.”

    Is your marketing driven by best guesses and trends instead of real Voice of the Customer data? We’ve worked with B2B clients who were sure their customers cared about features and the big name relationship they could provide. They had a rude awakening when after even a little research they learned customers don’t want a relationship, they want seamless solutions they never need to think about, so they can focus on running their business.

    Sound familiar? You’re not alone – 61% of CMOs admit they’re struggling with how to use big data effectively. But it’s a problem worth solving, because data driven insights equip you to make smarter decisions and invest marketing dollars and customer service resources more effectively for more profitable results.

  2. “We don’t have time for social media.”

    78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour… and 77% of Twitter users feel more positive when a brand replies to their Tweet.

    Source: Brandwatch Blog, March 2016

    In today’s connected world, you just can’t afford to ignore social commentary about your brand. It’s the immediate, always-on, mobile-friendly way many consumers (67% and climbing, according to JDPowers) now prefer to engage with brands —so you better be there. But social media is not just for broadcasting a marketing pitch; ever increasing numbers turn to social networks to vent about bad customer experiences. That makes social a vital channel to rapidly identify and resolve issues before they spin out.

    Social media is also a rich source of data for predictive analytics to understand trends in sentiment and consumer behaviors to maximize marketing relevance –i.e., touch customers with the right offers at the right time.

  3. “Let’s tell customers how great we are.”

    The old saying, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” rings especially true for marketing. Sure customers want great products and services to meet functional needs, but that’s not what drives their purchase decisions. They don’t want to hear about you; they want to know what’s in it for them. How will you make their life easier, better, richer? How can their business be more efficient, increase retention, boost profits?

    You have to think like a customer, understand their needs and mindset, and speak their language in ways that resonate with them. Embracing a customer-centric approach is not only a powerful way to reinforce your value proposition, it promotes more meaningful, personalized engagement that helps you build stronger, lasting relationships.

  4. “Our customer letters are fine, they meet legal and compliance.”

    Just because your servicing communications pass approval cycles doesn’t mean they’ll be good for customers. Too often letters are convoluted with overly formal language, cluttered with jargon or legalese, and topped with an unclear call to action. Result? They go in the trash because customers can’t easily see how it’s important or relevant to them, and frankly, no one likes being lectured to or scolded.

    Any company can turn this around by championing a customer-centric initiative. We’ve seen both individual lines of business and an entire enterprise transform their culture and customer experience by learning to convey important messages in a friendly, conversational tone with clear and concise plain language that anyone can understand. Another big win is that customer-centric communications help businesses more effectively handle negative news and sensitive situations to better preserve customer relationships.

  5. “We’re back office, customer experience isn’t relevant to us.”

    63% of CEOs see rallying their organizations around the customer as one of the top three investment priorities.

    Source: CMO.com, May 2015

    One of the biggest mistakes within organizations is culture drift, where only frontline employees think they impact customer experience, and everyone else is in production mode. The back office doesn’t see the ripple effect…   What happens when a process is slow or delayed or gets screwed up? The sales or service team gets heat from the customer. When everything runs smoothly in the background and customers stay happy, it’s usually sales or service reps who get the glory.

    But everyone in the food chain has an impact on the customer relationship. That’s why it’s mission critical to help all employees understand how they play a vital role in the customer experience, and how delivering excellence not only fuels their performance reviews, it’s powerful for customers and the business.

Whether it’s internal politics, limited resources, or just old-school thinking, not having a customer focused organization may be costing you money and market share.

Research tells us 89% of consumers switched to competing brands due to poor service. But having a customer-centric company is not just about customer service (or marketing). It’s a mindset that should drive your company culture at every level, so every decision, process, and interaction is aligned with what matters most to your customers. Happier customers help generate a happier workforce — giving you two powerful keys for boosting your bottom line.