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Are you customer-obsessed? Here is why you should be

Every decision, action and process should be driven by a deep understanding of, and commitment to, meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations. Image credit: Cover-More Every decision, action and process should be driven by a deep understanding of, and commitment to, meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations. Image credit: Cover-More


By Robyn Rawlings

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in 1999 that what matters most to him is providing the best customer experience he can to his consumers.

In the same interview, he added “If there’s one thing that Amazon.com is about, it’s obsessive attention to the customer experience end to end.”

Decades later, Amazon never wavered from their commitment to customer obsession. In fact, it is listed first among the company’s leadership principles.

From retail to tech, customer obsession is a foundational mantra that helps businesses excel. Let us explore why this is the case and how customer obsession can benefit your business.

What is customer obsession?
Customer-obsessed organizations care first and foremost about one thing: constantly optimizing the customer experience (CX). They work continuously to collect feedback, understand consumer needs and improve every interaction.

In doing so, businesses deploy a top-to-bottom customer-centric philosophy.

From sales and marketing to frontline workers, the goal is to understand what consumers want and deliver on those needs in a way that does not just satisfy customers, but delight them.

More than a strategy, customer obsession is a business model.

By generating trust, commitment and loyalty, organizations can build a sustainable competitive advantage that keeps customers coming back for more.

Why is customer obsession important?
Have you ever wondered just how costly a bad experience actually is?

According to recent research, nearly $4.7 trillion are squandered every year because of poor customer interactions. Furthermore, 74 percent of consumers say they are likely to buy based on experience alone.

Bottom line: CX management is make or break. But, with a customer-obsessed mindset, you can steer your organization in the right direction.

Here are a few ways a customer-obsessed philosophy can help drive better business results:

  • Retention: When consumers feel heard, seen, and valued, they are more likely to stay with a brand over the long term. This is especially significant given that 71 percent of consumers switched brands at least once in the past year, often because of poor customer experience.
  • Lifetime value: Decreasing churn allows you to increase customer lifetime value – the total revenue a consumer generates over the duration of the brand relationship. By exceeding expectations and delivering on your promises, you can drive repeat purchases and cross-selling opportunities.
  • Acquisition: Over two-thirds of consumers are likely to recommend a company based on a single interaction. In short, satisfied customers are more willing to become brand advocates and refer others, thus increasing profitability and lowering cost-per-acquisition.
  • Reputation: Word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire. With a strong reputation for positive CX, you can earn more brand exposure, credibility and organic growth – three assets critical to winning new customers and keeping them for the long haul.

While it is undeniable that being customer-obsessed is critical to any business, a recent Forrester report found that only 3 percent of respondents were fully customer obsessed – meaning that every department, every team and every employee was fully dedicated to the customer's point of view.

Strategies to build a customer-obsessed organization
Customer obsession is a top-down commitment that requires buy-in across the org chart. It is not going to happen overnight, but with a few strategic decisions, you will be off to the races in no time.

Here are a few valuable ways to build a more customer-obsessed organization.

Impart empathy to your contact center
Imagine calling into a support desk, waiting on hold for hours on end, repeating your issue over and over, and being redirected to the wrong departments. Finally, you are speaking to the person who can fix your problem – unfortunately, he or she treats you like your problem does not matter. That is a bad customer experience.

In a lot of ways, customer obsession is rooted in just the opposite.

To be obsessed with your customer is also to be obsessed with empathy – for their feelings, their situation, and for where they may be in the customer journey.

Coaching employees, especially your contact center agents, to flex their emotional intelligence can make a huge difference.

Seek to understand customer pain points so that you can develop solutions and experiences that leave a positive impression on your audience.

One way to ensure agents are practicing empathy is to analyze their call transcripts.

Some contact center solutions automatically transcribe conversations, allowing supervisors to comb through the content and uncover any points of improvement.

Embrace a customer-first culture
Place the customer at the heart of your company.

Every decision, action and process should be driven by a deep understanding of, and commitment to, meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations.

Many enterprises are already focusing on this area.

Take Cover-More, a global travel insurance company, for example.

With more than 15 million customers globally, Cover-More knew in 2019 that it would have to place the customer at the heart of everything.

When the pandemic hit, the company’s forward-thinking paid off. Having already upgraded its contact center technology and communication stack, the enterprise was well-positioned to offer an omnichannel, seamless customer experience at every opportunity.

Enable continuous feedback loops
Feedback is the bedrock of customer experience management.

To be truly customer obsessed, businesses must establish mechanisms and processes to collect insights from consumers at every touchpoint. These can include surveys, reviews and direct interactions – basically anything that synthesizes and gathers information.

By analyzing these insights for root causes and customer sentiment, organizations can not only resolve issues more promptly, but optimize decision making based on how those resolutions are received.

Prioritize data-driven decision making
They say data is the oil of the 21st century, so why not use it to fuel your business’s tenets for customer obsession?

Because customer experience is so closely connected to bottom-line performance, any CX decision you make should be based on high-quality data.

One of the best ways to collect customer analytics is through a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform. CCaaS tools automatically synthesize cross-channel insights, allowing agents to take real-time actions to improve customer satisfaction.

Personalize the customer journey
Behind every consumer is an individual.

Knowing this, customer-obsessed businesses aim to personalize CX by leveraging analytics. They use data to customize interactions, recommendations, and more, thereby adding a personal touch to every interaction.

CCaaS tools are great in this regard, as they can help you gather data as customers move along their buyer’s journey. This allows you to map their progress through every interaction, ensuring a seamless experience across each channel.

Robyn Rawlings is Santa Barbara, California-based director of integrated campaigns and content marketing at Webex by Cisco. Reach her at rrawling@cisco.com.