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The relationship your customers have with your business is crucial. | Source: Shutterstock
The relationship your customers have with your business is crucial. | Source: Shutterstock

Shaping your business around customer experience

The relationship your customers have with your business is crucial. MICHAEL HINSHAW encourages you to refine your approach to this relationship.

Learning how to be more customer-centric sounds good; however, based on the structure of your business, you may have some work to do.

The list of potential opportunities to improve is long; however, this article's ideas are not complex. That’s because it’s meant to get you thinking and developing solutions specific to your business.

• Listen to your customers: I’m not talking about satisfaction surveys or any other sophisticated approach to the problem.

The issue with these fancy solutions is that they don’t point toward the problems or delights that drive the results.

Listening to your customers is as simple as asking them what they think — and why - and then acting on the information if it’s valuable. It’s essential to reflect on your business and the data it collects and question whether you’re acting on these insights.

• Customer perception is reality: The quality of your customer experience lives in one place - your customer's mind.

"No matter how well you think your business is doing, the gap between customer expectations of experience and their perceptions of experience is the reality you need to understand and address."

No matter how well you think your business is doing, the gap between customer expectations of experience and their perceptions of experience is the reality you need to understand and address.

In this regard, you should aim to make your customers a part of the ‘solution’. Involving customers in the experience design process — whether it be your approach to products, services, or even the physical layout of your store – has been used effectively for a long time.

It boils down to this: Take your customers’ points of view into account before you start making decisions about what they might want or need.

• Map your customer’s journey: A journey map allows you to ‘walk in the shoes’ of your customers by travelling with them as they interact with your business.

Research-based and focused on desired outcomes from the customer’s perspective, you’ll see their needs at each stage and point of interaction.

You’ll understand how well your business meets their expectations and identify the areas where you’re either exceeding or falling short. This is where opportunities for improvement are found.

• Monitor customer interactions: Monitoring customer interactions is critical because only you know all your touchpoints. This includes transactional surveys, phone calls, complaints, general feedback, and social media commentary for a jewellery business. When you monitor the performance of your business in all of these places, you may be surprised at what you learn.

Set key performance indicators based on customers' expectations and your planned experience, and monitor how well you do.

• Get your data together: Most established businesses keep customer data in silos across the enterprise: sales data in one bucket, marketing data in another, product and service somewhere else, and digital data in another entirely.

This customer data must be integrated and easily accessible across your business. This allows employees to truly ‘see’ the relationship between your business and your customers and make informed decisions. This is one of the most significant challenges businesses face and one of the most important to solve.

"Take your customers’ points of view into account before you start making decisions about what they might want or need."

• ‘See’ your customers digitally: Every transaction between your business and your customers generates data.

Each online or mobile interaction generates ‘digital data trails’ to be stored and analysed. Looking at your customers through the lens of your digital relationship will provide valuable insights into behaviour that can help you radically improve customer experience.

• Define your strategy: Customer experience strategy flows from your business and brand strategy.

Just as brand strategy creates and manages customer expectations of a brand, your customer experience strategy is your plan to meet or exceed those expectations.

With implications for virtually every aspect of your business, it’s the vehicle through which you can turn customer expectations into reality.

• Empower and reward your employees: In the quest to be more customer-centric, your employees are the frontline. They boast a wealth of insight about customers and internal operations and can quickly improve customer experience through one-on-one interactions and behind-the-scenes decision-making.

Yet many companies have reward structures tied only to revenue, compared with meeting the needs of customers. They don’t empower employees to make the decisions required to meet those customer needs.

Now that you’ve considered these ideas, where can you take advantage of these opportunities in your business? And what further ideas can you add to this list?

Keep this in mind: The secret to customer-centricity is based on designing your world around an understanding of your customer’s needs and then focusing on meeting those requirements.

This core idea relates to everything on this list — and should relate to everything in yours.

More reading:
Three golden rules for investing in relationships with customers
Simple and effective ways to boost your word-of-mouth referrals
Five questions your marketing plan should be able to answer
Looking for – and finding – a business’ ‘lost customers’
Quality customer service always beats out pricing
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Hinshaw

Contributor • McorpCX


Michael Hinshaw is president of McorpCX, which focuses on customer experience management. Learn more: mcorpcx.com

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