Customer obsession is a trendy adjective that many companies lay claim to, but few actually bring to life.
What is customer obsession? Customer obsession involves putting your customers at the heart of everything your business does. It’s the process of learning about your customers—their behaviours, goals, and challenges—and then using that information to shape every experience they have with your business.
Often, it’s associated with “surprise and delight”—grand, unexpected gestures. But customer obsession is much more than just the occasional ta-da moment. Even the less flashy things—like providing reliable customer service, creating positive customer experiences, and listening to the voice of the customer—illustrate a dedication to your patrons.
Think of customer obsession as a commitment to cultivating a positive experience for your customers at every single touchpoint, whether they’re learning about your business for the very first time or have been a loyal purchaser for years. In the words of Maria Martinez, President of Salesforce Customer Success Group:
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that customer experience is top of mind: Businesses that do not put the customer first will struggle for relevance in an increasingly competitive market”
Let’s dig into everything you need to know about what it really means to be customer-centric—including how you can make customer obsession a core piece of your own business’ culture.
Why should you become a customer obsessed company?
Simply put, you need your customers more than they need you. Fortunately, customer obsession is the not-so-secret sauce for attraction, retention, and a positive reputation.
Let’s start with your reputation. You want people talking about your business—ideally only if they have good things to say.
However, customers don’t care about “average” experiences, and are sure to talk about negative experiences.
In fact, a research report from Zendesk says that 87% of customers will share good experiences with others, but a whopping 95% will rant about a poor experience. Beyond that, only 5% of people in the study said they shared their negative experiences with no one:
What about the money side of things? When customers have positive interactions with your business, they’re not only more likely to have increased loyalty, but they also spend more.
Three out of four consumers say they have spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service experiences. And, even further, these experiences are actually something they’re willing to foot the bill for. 86% of customers would actually pay more for a better experience, which means this is a customer demand you can’t ignore.
How small businesses can create a customer obsessed culture
Here’s the good news: You actually learned the secret to customer obsession when you were in kindergarten; treat others as you want to be treated.
That’s the core of customer obsession. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about how you’d prefer to be treated when you shop.
It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s a little more complex in practice, isn’t it?
Here are some tips for you to show your customers just how dedicated to them you are.
1. Map your customer journey
Before we dig in, we should pause to make a distinction—there are three stages a person goes through before they become a “customer.”
There are prospects, who are interested but have not bought anything, buyers who have made a single purchase, and customers who purchase regularly.
To truly serve each of these groups, you need to internalise what they experience as they move through the various touchpoints of your business. That kind of empathy will begin to unveil how to improve customer relationship management within your business.
51% of consumers will never do business with a brand after one negative experience. —New Voice Media
How does journey mapping work?
To start, return to your customer personas (or define them, if you haven’t already done so), as those different types of customers might find and interact with your business in different ways.
Next, list out all of the potential touchpoints with your business. Think things like:
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Personal contact (like phone calls, emails, or in-person conversation)
Now think about how you’d ideally like that each group to flow through your business from one of those starting points.
Imagine that your prospect first learns about your business through social media. Where do you want them to go from that single post? Perhaps you want them to click through to your website. How can you enhance the experience so that they actually do so? Once on your website, maybe your goal is to get them to sign up for a free consultation. Again, how can you encourage or incentivise them to do so?
Repeat that same process for all of your starting touchpoints and customer personas and you’ll have a much better grasp on your customer’s experience with your business—and how you can improve it.
2. Provide a prompt response to comments and questions
This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many companies overlook this basic element of quality customer service. In fact, a reported 62% of companies don’t ever respond to customer emails. What’s worse, there’s a cavernous gap in how businesses perceive their customer service skills vs how consumers see it.
Clearly, that’s a stark contrast with the demands and expectations of the modern consumer. In today’s constantly-connected culture, 75% of online consumers expect a response within only five minutes.
Don’t panic—it’s a pretty unreasonable expectation that you’ll always be available to jump on customer questions and comments. However, it does speak to the importance of prioritising communication with your customers on all of your different channels like:
- Phone calls
- Website contact form submissions
- Social media comments and mentions
Buffer is a great example of a brand that places a high value on communication. Their customer service representatives actually make up what’s called the “Happiness Team” and they’re known for being super responsive—even to messages that point out potential bugs or errors.