On the face of it, this is a pretty sensible thing to ask – especially when you look at the board of many bigger organisations – and the lessons for SMEs and owner managers are massive…
You might not be shocked to realise that most companies still do not have anyone who represents the customer sitting on the board – be it Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Customer Experience, or Customer Service.
Yet nearly every board has a Finance Director, and many have an Operations Director and IT Director.
Every business is selling a product or service to a customer to generate cash, so looking at it simply, a business equals customers and cash.
Without customers, you don’t have any cash, and without both you don’t have a business, and therefore no need for operations, technology, or any thing else.
So how do you become successful and create wealth in any business? It’s simple – focus on the customer.
How do you focus on something that’s not represented in every decision you make?
Oh the customer, you beautiful thing!
It’s not what you say, it’s not what you do – it’s how you make someone feel that matters. It’s feelings and emotions that people talk about, share, and influence our mood and behaviour.
This can result in buying a product or service – or not, as the case may be.
Recently, while pulling together some case studies for a customer, we came across one of the first projects we did in 2003.
This project was for a large transport company, and this was all about the Customer Experience. Has it really taken this long for businesses to realise just how important CX is?
Of course not – it’s been the key brand differentiator for years for organisations such as Apple, Amazon, Disney, and John Lewis to name just a few.
However, it’s taken a while for other companies to really understand it or have the desire and the energy to invest in it. It seems like only yesterday that every business claimed the key to winning customers was in the quality of the product or service they deliver.
Things have changed, and now one of the most important factors is providing the best Customer Experience. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Arguably, it has been for years, but it’s taken a while for the realisation to catch on. This has allowed the CX pioneers to become market leaders, while other companies get left behind.
With 86 percent of buyers saying they will pay more for a better Customer Experience, and predicted key CX date of 2020 on the horizon, it astounds me how many companies still don’t have a CX strategy in place.
A customer’s perception of how your company treats them and makes them feel is what shapes behaviours and memories, and this drives loyalty. If they feel emotionally connected to you, they will continue to do business with you and recommend you to others. They might even say a few nice things about you on social media.
So why has it taken over 15 years for this to finally hit home? Many of us fall into the trap of doing what is easy rather that what is right, but if we do what’s right then our business and our lives become easy.
If we do what is easy, often our business and our lives become difficult. I know what I would be choosing to do?! To create and deliver personalised experiences that will entice customer loyalty, we need to know them well. This is something that requires an investment of effort and patience.
It requires collecting a lot of data and bringing out valuable insights from that data with speed and precision. A great example of this is Tesco and the launch of Clubcard in 1995. Clubcard was the foundation of Tesco’s rise to become the dominant retailer in the UK and one of the biggest in the world.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in – improving the experience for your customers is the key to increasing retention, satisfaction, sales, and profits.