Becoming a customer-first company

Jun 26, 2023
Customer experience Thought Leadership

Most organizations understand the importance of customer experience (CX). In fact, 88 per cent of organizations believe it’s important to have a complete and consistent view of customers across channels and platforms. That said, only 16 per cent of CX-driven companies have a single (360-degree) view of their customers. For many organizations, having a united view of the customer experience seems to be in strategic plans and roadmaps, however implementation tends to be where organizations struggle. Oftentimes, this is because of organizational structure and siloes, when customers experience an organization across multiple channels, various product lines, and through many lines of communication.

Being “customer obsessed” is about making foundational changes in organizational culture, structure, and practices. A few ways for organizations to start taking CX strategy to application are below:

1. Start with structure and mindset

Organizational structure plays a critical role in delivering against a unified customer experience. Many organizations are structured in siloes that tie back to the bottom line of the organization, whether it’s by line of business or aligned to a P&L. An organization that is customer obsessed looks at their structure, goals and KPI’s from the lens of the customer journey. A marketer, for example, would look at plans holistically against an omnichannel journey and build their marketing and communications plans accordingly.

If organizational structure transformation is not in your roadmap as a company, the shift can come into effect with cultural transformation, including revamping expectations to ensure departments are collaborating and there’s a focus on the “office of the customer.” This “office” is a collective of leaders that come from teams who impact the customer experience – from product, to marketing, to sales, to technology. They collaboratively build plans that align back to CX, and their teams collaborate on execution. Tying objectives, goals and KPIs back to the overall health of the customer experience keeps the “office of the customer” on track and accountable. This way, customer obsession shows up in culture, in teams, and in day-to-day decision-making.

2. Know who you are serving

What does successful CX look like? It likely looks different depending on who you speak to. A good place to begin when building a customer-first company is to know with confidence who your target customers are and their unique journey with your organization. This practice includes building out audience segments, specific personas, and getting to know their emotional and rational triggers to service them in the best way possible.

Ask yourself how you can make life easier for people within your CX, and use tools to help facilitate a better experience. Even those organizations that know their target audience with clarity, need to understand the friction points within their experience holistically across all channels. Mapping out those friction points with the triggers within a customer journey helps teams collectively find solutions that add value to the customer, and find simple changes to help transform the experience. Whether it be a simple shift in design, or a change in user experience, making a customer’s life easier proactively strengthens their relationship with the brand. As Brian Solis suggests, “Say this to yourself three times, ‘I am not my customer. I am not my customer. I am not my customer.’

3. Build a unified data culture

As organizations were hit by the pandemic, digital transformation accelerated with new tools, systems, and tech stacks being implemented quickly in order to satisfy various needs. To keep up with the transformation and consistent change, a unified data culture is required.

Creating this type of culture requires everyone in the organization to adopt a data-centric point of view and learn what customer data, from what sources, can help them make their jobs better. Utilize technology to make it simple for people at all levels of an organization to access this data and gain insights from it. Also, use customer feedback loops to drive change within the organization: “Define customer feedback loops and connect them to touchpoint leaders to deliver real-time, personalized, interconnected customer experiences.”

Creating a unified source, reason, and data-centric decision-making culture, with inputs that are directly linked to customer feedback, customer service and customer research, will ensure data is at the heart of decision-making.

4. Prioritize empathy

Finally, empathy is a key factor in creating customer-first organizations. Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer as you’re making brand, product or policy decisions so you can understand their impact. Here are some ways to tackle and quantify empathy:

  • Ensure emotional factors are coming into effect when mapping out customer journeys.
  • Introduce empathy maps into research and decision-making.
  • Experience the brand like consumers: Go into the field, work in-store, support the delivery team, act as the virtual customer service representative, respond to call centre phone calls.
    • Talk to your customer, experience the brand, and practice empathy.
  • Quantify empathy with KPI’s around empathy scores and map these out in various parts of the customer experience, and learn why, in an effort to standardize the experience.
    • For example, there may be an over-index in empathy when dealing with a knowledgeable sales representative, but this score plummets when experiencing the brand on digital.

Closing thoughts

Creating a customer focused organization requires a cultural shift and a re-prioritization to include the customer at the centre of all decisions. This shift will lead to many benefits, for customers, employees, and for the future growth and development of the organization itself.

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Aleena Mazhar

SVP, Managing Director, Partner | Fuse Create




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