Customer obsession explained from top to bottom
Customer obsession is not a new mantra in business. In fact, it’s a concept that businesses have been using for years — but as time goes by and technology advances, customer-obsessed companies are gaining better tools and methods to facilitate their obsession with their customers, constantly working to stay ahead of the curve.
In today’s online-focused age, customers hold the upper hand. “Customer first” is the rule every business owner knows, but, surprisingly, recent research by Forrester reveals that only 8% of enterprises are actually customer-obsessed. No wonder businesses that have their customers at the core of everything they do create long-lasting sustainable success.
But what is the meaning of being “customer-obsessed” and how can you join that 8%?
Here’s where you start.
What is customer obsession?
Customer obsession is a company culture that is focused on “obsessing” over the customer. While this may be a broad definition, there are some things that all customer-obsessed companies have in common. These things include:
- Making the customer the center of your business (if you haven’t already). This means you’re focused on what they want and need, and not just on making profits or growing revenue. In a way, customer obsession starts with customer intelligence — before building this customer-oriented culture, you need to understand what your customers need.
- Creating an experience around your customers (not just product or service). This means you’re focusing on how you add value to their lives and not the other way around; not just selling them something that solves one problem, but instead creating an entire ecosystem for them where everything works seamlessly together for their benefit.
- Asking for feedback on every part of your business so that you can improve it for the customer. Even bad reviews can help.
- Using all the feedback and intel you generate to continuously coach your agents and facilitate growth in your customer service teams in order to improve the customer experience of your internal and external customers.
While customer obsession is not an easy thing to achieve, it is the best way to build a business that will stand the test of time.
Why is customer obsession important in customer service?
The State of Service research by Salesforce found that 80% of customers believe that the customer experience they get from companies is no less important than the product or service they receive. This is why customer obsession should be the backbone behind every customer service management strategy.
Companies that put their customers first are more likely to see loyal customers and higher sales. So, why is customer obsession important in customer service?
There are two major reasons.
#1 Customer Satisfaction: It’s simple: when you take care of your customers, they’ll take care of you.
Customer-obsessed companies have a laser focus on understanding what their buyers want and need. They use this information to make changes that will improve the experience for both internal employees (through better tools) and external customers (through better products). This commitment to constant improvement results in happier, more satisfied customers—and greater success for the company as a whole.
#2 Brand loyalty: A little kindness goes a long way!
When a customer has an excellent experience with your brand, they’re far more likely to come back again and again. In fact, 89% say they will continue buying from a brand after a positive experience — and this creates strong brand loyalty over time.
Why customer obsession (CO) will matter more in the future?
The customer is king — and the marketplace is getting more competitive than ever.
The future of business will be shaped by those who serve their customers best, and that means it’s time to start obsessing over them if you haven’t already.
But here’s an interesting fact to those doubting whether building a customer-obsessed culture is worth it: if you invest in it, customer obsession will bring you at least 700% ROI over the span of 12 years, depending on your ideal customer type and the company itself.
Because it’s not enough to simply have a good product anymore.
Just look at what happened when Amazon debuted the Fire Phone in 2014: anticipation was high, but reviews were generally tepid. Amazon was forced to write off $170 million worth of unsold phones, and many observers sighed at yet another big-name failure in the mobile space.
“Customers have a lot of choices, which drives down prices and drives up quality,” Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis said soon after the phone’s release. “They expect higher levels of service and support, which forces companies to innovate.”
Customer obsession examples
Each of us is directly linked to the customer service industry — we’re all consumers.
And as a consumer, you’re probably familiar with the meaning of customer obsession. Each product and service you interact with has been carefully crafted to give customers what they want — and maybe even just a little bit more. Here are some of the most well-known examples of customer obsession activities across industries:
- Tech companies such as Netflix and Amazon use constant innovation to remain competitive in their markets. In fact, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos credits his company’s success directly to its focus on the customer experience, saying “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
- Other non-tech companies, like Starbucks and Disney, also strive for excellence in their products by understanding what their customers want. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz calls this process “customer mania.”
- eCommerce businesses have also risen to fame thanks to their exemplary customer service, including brands like Zappos and Lush Cosmetics — “the ultimate customer experience” they call it.
Whether it’s tech or eCommerce companies leading the way or taking inspiration from others’ successes, good businesses that contribute something special to society will always be obsessed with delivering quality experiences for their customers.
6 steps to build a customer-obsessed culture
Building a customer-obsessed culture is not easy, but it’s worth it. When you put your customers first and use data to power your decisions, you build a more profitable company that people love.
So, how do you show customer obsession?
Step 1. Gather customer feedback and share it with the whole company
Each customer obsession definition starts with transparency.
The first step is to ask customers for their honest opinions about your products and services. You can do this with surveys or interviews and share results with the entire team. Ask how well you’re meeting their expectations, and if there’s anything you can improve on.
You can gather feedback from customers through different channels: email, social media, phone calls, and surveys.
Step 2. Turn customer feedback into customer intelligence
Converting customer feedback into actionable insights is key to building trust and loyalty among your clients. This doesn’t mean every request gets implemented but it’ll show them you’re listening, and that their input matters.
Sep 3. Use your findings to build a customer-centric strategy
Now that you know what your customers want, develop a plan to meet those needs. How does this affect your product roadmap? What new features and services would they like? Where do they expect to see the biggest improvements? Involve customers in building the right solution for them and then give them what they’ve asked for.
Step 4. Finetune your customer operations
Creating a product or service people actually need isn’t enough for building a customer-obsessed culture. You need to focus a lot of your efforts on the level of services your company provides, and the experiences it creates for the customers. This means that in order to improve customer experience, you need to incorporate multiple customer obsession ideas into your workflows.
Read more: How to improve customer experience
For your agents to be able to focus on what truly matters — caring for the customers — you need to empower them for it. You need to create an environment where all customer support operations are running like a Swiss watch so your agents don’t have to move away from their main task.
Step 5. Do quality assurance to see if agents meet customers’ expectations
Quality assurance is the process of examining agents’ interactions with customers to see if they meet customers’ expectations.
Agents are your representatives—they are the ones who interact with customers on a daily basis, and they are the ones who have to meet customers’ expectations.
And if you want to build a customer-obsessed culture, you have to make sure that your agents are providing excellent service every time.
Quality assurance involves auditing calls, chats, emails, and other interactions between agents and customers, and determining whether or not those interactions meet your standards for great service.
In quality assurance, you set expectations for your agents and then review their performance against those expectations to ensure they’re meeting them.
Step 6. Coach agents to consistently improve the quality of service
Customer obsession training can be done as a part of your overall performance coaching initiatives. It allows you to give your agents actionable feedback on their performance so they can improve the quality of service they provide to customers. But this coaching doesn’t end at the onboarding stage — it should be a part of daily life for your agents.
With regular feedback and coaching advice, agents will always know what they need to improve and how they can do it. It is this clarity that builds further professional growth and career opportunities.
One of the best ways to work toward customer obsession is to ask the right questions.
True customer obsession goes deeper than a customer-obsessed marketing ploy. It’s a philosophy.
Customer obsession is an important sentiment to keep in mind throughout every aspect of your business – from product development to customer service management, and even staff hiring. If you’re able to focus on what your customers care about, they will come to know, like, and trust you.