A few years ago, many experts began discussing the need for companies to become more customer-centric. Call this the "it's more about the customer" model. Today, however, merely being customer-centric may not be enough. The latest advice points to the need to be customer-obsessed; call this the "it's all about the customer" model.
Fortunately, becoming customer-obsessed does not require a major financial investment or a complete overhaul of the organization's business logic. However, it typically requires some alterations to the company culture and may require a new way of thinking from some departments.
Customer-Obsessed Companies Understand the Customer Journey
The mid-20th century sales funnel no longer exists. Back then, your customers progressed in a fairly linear manner from product awareness to purchase with few touch-points in between. Today, your customer's journey is a meandering path that involves multiple touch-points across multiple devices and multiple forms of media. The customer lifecycle could more correctly be called the marketing lifecycle because you have opportunities at every touch-point to engage your customers and offer them the experience they demand. Customer-obsessed businesses understand the convoluted path that a customer follows, and they take a unified view of the entire journey instead of considering it a series of unrelated touch-points. These businesses use the holistic customer view when designing strategies to enhance the customer experience.
Customer-Obsessed Businesses Learn to Think Like a Customer
To be customer-obsessed, every employee must be able to put themselves in the customer's shoes. What does the customer truly want? Where are the points of friction that detract from the customer's experience? Why do customers choose specific items over similar ones? What emotions are involved in the purchase decision? In this age of "me-commerce" customers expect the companies with which they do business to know them perhaps better than they know themselves. They expect you to know whether they have pets, live in a rural area, own a car, prefer organic foods or redeem discount coupons. You may already be able to extract this information from the data you collected, but do you understand how the customer feels when they make a purchase that offers a true value, finds the perfect gift or discovers an item that can save them hours of labor every month? What are the emotional reactions of customers who have trouble navigating your site, cannot make a purchase with a mobile device or cannot find the information on your site that they need to make the final decision to purchase an item? Customer-obsessed businesses employ empathy and psychology to help them build an accurate multi-layered picture of their customers, making it easier to choose the best platform for offering new experiences.
Customer-Obsessed Businesses are Agile
In a complex economy where changes can happen at the speed of light, the ability to react quickly is vital for customer-obsessed businesses. You may have heard of the agile method for developing software; this allows frequent release cycles that speed the time to deployment. Most customer-obsessed businesses favor the agile method for IT, but they apply the principles of agility throughout the company. All departments focus on the creation and delivery of great products as well as the customer experience when considering, purchasing and using the product. They work together to deliver consistency in messaging and fast responses to customer-related issues. They deliver when the customers need it rather than adhering to a strict schedule for updates or releases.
The concept of a digital transformation is likely to change a great deal over the coming decades. As technology continues to advance, customers' expectations will continue to increase. Customer-obsessed businesses are already working to build a culture that will allow them to meet the demands of their customers in the years to come — whatever they may be.