It’ll be wrong to assume that organisations do not know how important customers are to them, at the end of the day, without a paying customer even gold is just a yellow metal sitting on a shelf gathering dust! Six Sigma, Lean, JIT, TQM etc become buzz words of Indian business word cloud in the early 90ties – companies increasingly started focusing on serving the needs of their consumers not just with products but also with services; quite as tangibly. Service no longer remained a word to be used in conjunction with spirituality, with customer as prefix – it has become an effective block in modern day’s business strategy. Every brand is working hard towards ensuring that it captures customer’s imagination enough to make him stop at them whenever they are to make a buying decision.
Price continues to dominate decision making around the world; more so in developing countries, like ours, we continue to be a price sensitive market – on all accounts. What comes 2nd in the list is product or the service itself . It is rather naive to believe that getting just the price and product connection right will place an organisation steady on the planes of success. There is another component that matters quite a great deal that is (cost of ) acquiring a new consumer (& retaining them) every organisation willingly invests in it – no matter what they produce or sell! As is the reality of any business one looks for return on investment, and in a market which is crowed with options, repeat customer is what everyone wants as their return. Which is why on-boarding is taken very seriously!
In today’s era – everything is about experience!
If expressions like ‘customer friendly’, ‘hassle free’ , ‘easy access’, ‘round the clock support’ entirely make up the universe of how you define customer experience then my message for you is “wake up and smell the coffee”. If you haven’t noticed already things around us have changed 360 degrees. Why else a department that was called customer service in 90ties is now titled customer experience? From being a vertical to a horizontal cutting across departments and deliveries? Because it matters!
‘Real time’ is the word of 2017! Don’t believe me? Go browse for shoes on Amazon spend sometime reading about a few products in that segment and then log out of Amazon and log on to Facebook, two blocks down you’ll see a segment which is not your wall but the same shoe that you saw a while ago on Amazon – BOOM! That’s real time tracking of your browsing history , processing it and then pushing the product to you wherever you’re! That is how speed oriented things have become, you are fighting for every inch of online screen real state. Alright, all of you hiding in the incognito modes – come out, have you heard of a camera and a night vision camera ? If you know the difference you’d know that someone with a better vision is watching over you just as persistently even in your safe mode 🙂
No, I haven’t forgotten why I started this draft – it wasn’t about marketing ( I’m researching on it and will put it out some other day).
Customer service V 2.0 is Customer experience so .. Friendly is required to be fast too! ‘Hassle free’ has to be high quality, ‘easy access’ – will have to be not only real time but also super agile. ‘Round the clock’ has lost its relevance to working on a support system that enables ‘round the clock up time’.
So what is it that matters now?
Experience has to be seamless ; journey of the customer on your ecosystem has to be not just immersive but also intensely intuitive. Agile responsive approach is the only thing that makes sense in toady’s time. Your customer is not interested in knowing what your process is. He wants a product or a service that doesn’t fail and if it does the resolution should be instant.So with being Agile and Responsive – you’ll have to also transform your support set up into an empowered machine that knows to correct on a real time basis. The time that you need to take approval within your organisation shouldn’t become customer’s wait time! You gotta manage your stuff cleanly and in a manner that enables you to do things accurately in near REAL TIME!
Rising importance of service and the fact that customers are becoming increasingly unforgiving is uniquely proving to be another arena for brands to compete. Much like Idea, ‘intent’, also is no one’s monopoly. If you’re willing to serve your customer right – you will!
An organisation eventually is a heterogeneous group where people with diverse qualifications, skills, beliefs, lifestyles and mindsets come together to collaborate and create a sellable product or service. The contribution that people bring though on a whole compliments the end objective but in its elementary stage it sometimes does get confusing and conflicting resulting in responses that create what I call ‘service barriers’ ( delays , meaningless follow ups, email battles & ego fights) – which can be extremely detrimental to the bussiness.
Remember customers seldom give a second chance!
To insulate the bussiness from these petty conflicting confusions organisations work towards creating a culture of customer centricity.. where they vehemently & religiously place customers at the centre of all decisions that they take, every plan that is conceived and every action that follows. Creating such work group its not easy .. had it been so, every company would have become Apple and American Express; the fact some remain iBall computers all their lives and other do not get beyond the broken alphabet names that they are born with (HDFC) is proof of the fact that – this is not easy to achieve but certainly doable because some have!
Given that I think below four ingredients enable the culture of customer centricity – sharing it with you!
Happy Employees create Happy Customers.
This is borrowed from Virgin airlines – it is no brainer! A grumpy soul can’t create a happy customers and an employee can’t be happy if she/he is not made to feel needed, given the tool and the attention that he or she needs to get the job done. Public appreciation and private reprimanding go a long way in setting things right. You’ve to orient your staff to value the virtue of caring, don’t forget, charity begins at home. You take care of them and they’ll take care of your customers in return. You gotta keep them meaningfully engaged and money is not the most important thing here. Relatively lesser paid employee can do better if treated right!
Lose every fight, if it is with the customer.
The age old philosophy which says “customer is always right” is where this comes from. Remember you’re NOT in the bussiness of judging, you are in the bussiness of making money & creating value by serving people with your product and services. Do not compete with the customer. Do what you can, to take care of their interests and when you can’t make sure you communicate so, well! There should not be even an iota of uncertainty in your intention to help the customer. A happy customer will return and you’ll grow! SO GO HELP ‘EM!
Rebelliously right the wrongs of the world.
Your organisation like every other organisation in the world will have issues, some of them must have got created by decisions that may have come from people who are important or senior enough in the system. But then no one can be absolved of their responsibility of helping the customer and doing so promptly. If required, call a spade a spade! Always back your claims with meaningful data otherwise you’ll be beaten to death and people won’t give a second chance. The fact of the matter is that everyone makes an error or two and it is our responsibility to detect it quickly and then fix it swiftly. Because between a customer choosing another supplier over you and you fighting your system to set something right, the later is always more wise.
Every interaction is a moment to shine.
Yeah, that’s right! Every single time the customer gets in touch with you either in person or on the phone, or thru a web or a mobile application – you’ve to dazzle him with simplicity and elegance! Much like the design of Apple products, they are so simple and yet so elegant.That is how they manage to turn heads and hearts world over. You can’t not impress the customer. At the end of the interaction the customer must remember you as a great platform/service/person!
- You can be generous!
- Please, put yourself in customer’s shoe!
- Build relationships!
- Be a Winner by winning the customer over!
On that note, go out there & WIN a customer and be passionate about it!
Best of luck!