So what is customer-obsessed?
Well here is the very proper high-brow definition… Customer obsession describes brands that continuously add value to the customer experience. These companies continuously collect feedback and prioritise customer needs in every business goal.
But us Brand Brigaders like to describe it as having a crazy, insane, around the clock commitment to understanding and caring for your customers. Sounds like hard work? Not at all – when you understand just how important it is to your business.
“The no. 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive compulsive focus on the customer.” ― Jeff Bezos, Amazon
So, why is it important? Why do brands need to be customer-obsessed?
Gone are the days when a brand can stand up on its pedestal and talk out at its customers. Here I am, this is what I do! Thanks to the digital revolution customers are more savvy than ever. They have access to information like never before. They decide how, when and where they interact with brands. They do it on their time and they are discerning.
When you think about how many messages we receive in any given day, it is mind blowing. So your messages need to do more than just talk about your brand and what you do. They need to tap into a personal problem for your audience and you need to present yourself as the solution. Unless your brand can solve a problem for your audience then everything you say just becomes noise.
We call it hunting for the key consumer insight. You need to understand what’s important to your customers. What is their key problem to solve? And then figure out how your brand solves this problem for them.
CUSTOMER OBSESSED IN ACTION
Zappos is an online retailer that has distinguished itself in its market through customer obsession. They got to the bottom of what their customers want. Zappos customers didn’t want to feel like a number, they wanted to feel cared for. So that’s what Zappos have done. The customer service agents go above and beyond for their customers. Here’s just a few examples of their customer care…
The 10-Hour Customer Service Call – In December 2012, a Zappos phone rep took a service call that lasted for 10 hours and 29 minutes. While the call went far beyond the company’s product line, the rep remained calm and didn’t rush the customer as they chatted throughout the day. In the end, the customer ended up buying a new pair of shoes and was delighted with their experience. Might sound insane, but that’s the lengths Zappos will go to in looking after their customers.
The CEO Pizza Call – one night, Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh, was out with his friends at a bar. When the bar closed they were looking for a bite to eat but couldn’t find a pizza place to deliver. Hsieh was so confident in his support team that he had his friends called anonymously and requested a pizza. While the support agent didn’t send a pizza, he did locate three restaurants in Hsieh’s area that would deliver to him.
So how do you become customer-obsessed?
It’s pretty simple really. You need to talk to your customers. You need to understand them.
You can do this in a really low-fi way. Such as reaching out to some customers on your email database or through your social channels and asking them if they wouldn’t mind chatting to you, perhaps offering them an incentive for their time. Even doing some desktop research on your customers could be helpful.
Or you can do this really thoroughly. Working with a professional researcher they will take you through a combination of quantitative research which involves surveys out to a large number of people, designed to look for patterns in the people’s responses. And then a qualitative research process which involves interviews either face to face or over the phone, designed to explore underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations.
This combination of intel allows you to get clear on what matters to your audience. It’s only then that you begin to understand how your brand or products fit into the world of your customer. This work helps you determine how you are relevant – or how to optimise your relevancy.
Apart from understanding your customer’s needs and problems, there are other things to do to become customer-obsessed.
- Put customers at the centre of all decisions. Rather than being a company that is focused on your products, your sales, your tech or any of the other things you might focus on, why not make your customers your focus. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos believes, customers are always ‘wonderfully dissatisfied’. Why not focus on constant innovation to delight your customers. You invent on behalf of your customers. Did you know Amazon even reserves a seat for the customer at internal meetings?
- Create a clear and authentic brand promise. Customer-obsessed companies have a clear, concise and consistent brand promise that talks to the needs of their customers, and they live up to that promise. They walk the talk.
- Prioritise customer retention over acquisition with incredible customer service. At every touch point your customers need to feel cared for, above and beyond. Most companies focus on sales, sales, sales, but truly customer-obsessed companies focus on implementing customer service throughout the buyer’s journey, looking to create more meaningful relationships. Once a deal is closed add more value to a customer experience. Retaining a customer can be 5 to 25 times cheaper than acquiring a new one.
Tesla is a master at this. When you buy a Tesla online they inform you of the status of the order. When the car is ready they send you your documents electronically, and deliver the car to your house. Over the years of ownership they send many software updates to add features to the car. When car repairs are needed they send a mobile repair to the house. They have an innovatively designed and flawlessly executed customer experience.
- Make staff KPIs and incentives around customer obsession. Most companies make KPIs around profit and margins, but customer-obsessed companies will define performance success in relation to customer satisfaction and loyalty – Net Promoter Score (NPS). And this is not just reserved for the customer service department, every person in your company needs to align themselves with customer success.
- Hire the right employees, with the right attitude. Make sure you hire people with the right attitude towards customer service and empower them with tools to deliver excellent customer service.
- Constantly measure and be driven by customer feedback. Constantly finding ways to get customer feedback, and actually use that feedback to make positive change.
Time to get a little bit crazy and truly get to know your customers, so that you can surprise and delight them all the way.
Jodie + Em xx