What does it take for businesses to thrive in a post-pandemic world?
Is it top-of-the-line products? Door-busting deals? Enticing discounts? Fancy perks?
While all of these can certainly contribute to a successful business model, there’s one attribute that stands out above the rest among companies from retail to banking that has emerged from the pandemic ahead of the game: customer obsession.
Visionary thinking and innovative products and services are necessary for success, but it’s a customer-obsessed mindset that closes the gap between bold ideas and actual business impact. According to research firm Forrester, being a customer-obsessed organization has a tangible link to revenue growth, more engaged employees, and stronger customer retention.
We’ll explain why a customer-centric approach is a requirement for modern businesses in a moment, but first, let’s take a step back and examine what exactly is meant by customer obsession.
What is customer obsession?
The term ‘customer obsessed’ itself is a pretty good definition, but here are a few more detailed explanations of what it looks like in a practical context.
True customer obsession is putting the customer, rather than other ideals like profits or market share, at the heart of strategy and operations.
It’s placing a greater focus on retaining and delighting existing customers than acquiring new ones.
It’s stepping out of the organizational bubble and looking at things from your customer’s perspective, which can have a dramatic impact on the way decisions are made in the contact center.
It’s building everything your contact center does, from upselling and cross-promoting products to routine service inquiries, with the customer experience in mind.
4 reasons customer obsession is the key to a strong post-pandemic comeback
Now that we’ve outlined what it means to be customer-obsessed, why is it so important for contact centers in a post-Covid landscape?
- Customer feedback drives impactful change
When you’re obsessed with your customers, you ask them what they want and listen to their answers. Listening to your customers does more than just make them feel good; it can lead to transformative organizational changes. Think huge increases in CSAT and NPS scores. But those are just the tangible measurable values that can be attained. The value of customer obsession also reverberates inward in your organization to the frontline support teams that report higher rates of job satisfaction.
However, it’s not as easy as sending a few feedback surveys. Impactful change comes from a careful, long-term analysis of customer preferences followed up with strategic, calculated adjustments to the way you provide support, which could mean shaking things up in a big way.
Take for example this customer-obsession anecdote from fast-food giant McDonald’s. They opted to respond to consumer demand and switch from frozen to fresh beef in their quarter-pounder sandwiches. The move was a risky one, and costly, too. It required major supply chain adjustments and involved a fundamental change to an item that had been on the menu for more than 40 years.
The customer-obsessed move paid off for the golden arches. 90% of customers loved the change and it resulted in a 30% increase in quarter-pounder sales. At a time when many consumers feel unheard and unvalued by the companies they do business with, taking customer feedback and acting on it can pay big dividends.
So how could this play it out in your contact center? By adding channel alternatives to trim call queues, thoughtfully written FAQs, timely follow-ups. Where you make the change will depend on what your customers have to say.
- Customer obsession breeds innovation
Tough times, like the ones we’re in right now, cause businesses to take unprecedented steps to survive. When you focus those steps on meeting your customers’ needs, it can lead to advances that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. Necessity, as the old saying goes, drives innovation.
The rental process at Avis Car Rentals is one such example spurred by Covid-19. Before the pandemic, the process of renting a car was tedious. You had to stand in line to get to a crowded counter and fill out lots of forms in a process that could easily take 20 or 30 minutes.
In response to social distancing guidelines, Avis implemented a contactless rental process through its mobile app. The result is a convenient, seamless customer experience that all but eliminates contact with any employees or other customers. Such a tool–and the widespread adoption of it–may never have come about without a sharp focus on the customer during one of the most difficult periods for businesses in modern history.
Self-service options, convenient mobile-first tools, and omnichannel support are just a few of the innovations organizations can enjoy by following the customer’s needs.
- Empathy produces amazing experiences
Most employees, especially in a contact center setting, are trained to focus on metrics. Lowering handle times and increasing first-call resolutions, for example, are key goals to be met at all costs. When agents are trained instead to put themselves in the customer’s shoes, it inspires a different way of thinking that can produce some pretty incredible outcomes.
Especially in a retail or financial service setting when the services being provided are often very personal — a wedding gift, a refinanced home loan — customer obsession can make all of the difference.
In its two decades in business, online shoe retailer Zappos has built quite the reputation for its above-and-beyond customer service. In one anecdote, the best man in a wedding had his shoes shipped to the wrong address. With the ceremony less than 24 hours away, the company overnighted the shoes to the correct address at no charge and issued a full refund.
In another example, a Zappos customer service rep talked with a caller for nearly 11 hours, covering everything from footwear to living in Las Vegas and setting a record for the company’s longest service call (the call, by the way, did end in a purchase).
Though they’re far from the norm in customer service, these kinds of experiences are driven by customer obsession and are the kind of interactions that cement lifelong brand loyalty.