Digital Transformations are about making investments in the future. The best place to recognize that return is by focusing the company on a comprehensive customer experience. It is a journey and it takes time, resources, and tools such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that track and analyze interactions with customers.
Unfortunately, as many companies have discovered, understanding their customer’s behaviors requires a lot more than just a CRM system or creating a Chief Customer Officer position. Both are important components, but they alone are not enough. To understand your customers requires comprehensive views of distinct customer profiles and individual customer behavior. Gaining that level of insightful customer knowledge will ultimately drive corporate decisions around strategy, product, services and the organizational alignments necessary to drive results.
Becoming that customer centric organization happens overtime as steps along the journey. Apple didn’t become the great customer service company they are today overnight but what they have achieved is world class. The experience you have going into an Apple store versus other retailers is night and day. Their teams don’t do anything except make sure every customer in the store is getting the service they need and leaves the store having had a very positive experience.
Another great example is Zappos, an online retailer that has been leading the way in terms of customer focus. There is nothing unique about their prices or their products. They don’t spend a lot on advertising and they don’t discount. What powers their success is their amazing customer service. Their CEO has focused the company around customer satisfaction. They have one simple goal: Make the customer happy no matter what. Obviously they have it right because their customers come back time and time again.
Amazon has been known for their customer service with overnight shipping etc. but over the past few years they have been developing new customer options such as Prime or Prime Pantry to address customer buying patterns, maintain customer loyalty, and expand revenue opportunities. Most customers didn’t even know they needed Prime until it existed, but Amazon understood their customer’s behavior and created the demand.
To transition a company, you have to transition the focus. Data is critical for understanding the customer but you can’t underestimate the importance of training across the organization to achieve a real commitment to a customer centric model. The most important step is for teams across the organization to understand how their role, large or small, impacts the customer experience. Sales, marketing, and customer service are obvious and have the most customer interaction but IT, finance, delivery, and product development all have critical roles that impact the overall customer experience.
All of this takes time and capital that is easy to justify when you understand that putting the customer first is essential in this highly competitive new world where customer-retention and customer-loyalty are the key metrics that drive revenue and help your company maintain their strong market positioning.