We no longer live in a Product Economy where organisations are all powerful; instead we find ourselves firmly in the Customer Economy, where customers have more power than ever, exercising influence as online reviewers, advocates and critics.
For decades, traditional business models have relied on a rigid structure with siloed departments. This model’s usefulness is no longer fit for purpose in the digital age and just won’t cut it with the GenZennials fast becoming the prime customers and employees.
Some businesses, like Amazon or flourishing tech start-up Zoom, have put the customer first from the very beginning. Their organisational structures are designed to prioritise their users and ensure that the customer journey is as smooth as possible.
For them, the customer’s experience is already at the forefront of decisions and processes, making adapting to the Customer Economy a far easier transition. However, for most businesses, significant work needs to be done to adapt to the Customer Economy, with CEOs having to fundamentally shift their thinking on how they treat their customers at every stage of their journey.
In our new book ‘The Customer Catalyst – driving sustainable business growth in the Customer Economy’, we help organisations to do just that, identifying the ten business areas which need re-evaluating in order to drive a “C-change” (with C standing up for the customer):
1. Customer Voice
It’s now possible to listen to what your customers are saying and where they’re going online. This Voice of the Customer data (VoC) can be used to better understand and meet their needs.
We often say that ‘data is the new oil in the Customer Economy’. A prime example of this is customer-led videoconferencing company Zoom, which asks each customer not renewing their annual subscription for reasons why and looks to make changes accordingly.
Zoom’s CEO would rather give the customer the product for free and, where required, fix any issues raised rather than lose the customer.
By putting a VoC programme in place, you can find out what your customers really think about your brand, products and services, and learn from it. Often, this is a great starting point when it comes to driving customer-led growth.
As a leader looking to adapt your business to the Customer Economy, you need to transform your organisation’s culture so that all of your employees are responsible for customer experience and satisfaction, not just the Sales team.
To help instil a customer-led culture, establish a customer vision statement or promise and be rigorous about promoting this wherever you can. The single biggest motivator of staff is a clear and simple customer-led rallying call, which all employees can understand and connect with.
3. Customer Experience
The most successful companies focus relentlessly on delivering great customer experiences. In these companies, leaders constantly inspire employees across all business areas to have an ‘Outside-in’ customer view which acts a catalyst for growth.
This includes not letting technology alone define the customer experience. Customer Experience needs to be ‘human-first’ with all employees aligning around meeting and exceeding your customers’ needs.
Use best-of-breed customer tech platforms for your business, including a customer success platform facilitating a joined-up, cross-functional interaction with your customers.
The customer success platform is central to both engagement and communication with your clients and plays a key role in underpinning the digital experience. Optimise it accordingly!
It’s much more important to keep things as simple and frictionless as possible for your customers. For example, think about minimising the number of clicks or steps on the digital journey your customer has to go through to get your product or service to work well for them.
A great example of digital done well is Starling Bank which has won over half a million customers in less than three years with one of the world’s first digital only challenger banks.
6. Customer Success
Invest in a Customer Success Team to ensure that your customers are looked after throughout their journey with you. The Customer Success team won’t have a sales target and are tasked purely with customer retention, renewals and satisfaction.
Remember that “the customer knows when you’re just trying to sell them something” so work on making your focus about them – not just about you.
7. Customer Health
Develop a customer health scoring system to keep an instant check on any customer issues, red flags and satisfaction.
This will help your Customer Success team manage and streamline regular interaction with your customers throughout their journey with your company.
8. Customer Engagement
Customer engagement does what it says on the tin – it’s all about really engaging your customers and giving them a reason to interact with you in strategic programmes which provide value while benefitting you too.
Customer Engagement programmes help retain customer knowledge and protect customers from staff movements and attrition. Be smart and use your VoC data to tailor a programme that gives value back to your customers, increasing the likelihood of co-creation with them.
Ultimately, this will drive customer advocacy and sustainable business growth.
9. Co-create with your customers
Create a business environment and culture in which an ecosystem of your customers, partners and other influencers can co-create. Innovation is no longer a top-down, linear process but instead a continuous, collaborative ecosystem that benefits all of your stakeholders.
The organisations that nurture these co-creation platforms effectively will become the Emperors and its network of innovators will become Kings.
The best way to achieve co-creation is for employees to be empowered and rewarded for co-creating with customers, partners and other stakeholders. Go further and take the step of making customer co-creation one of your organisational values, and part of your customer vision and mission.
10. Customer Advocacy
If you’re doing the first nine elements of the C-change growth engine right, you’ll be well on the way to nurturing your customers as genuine advocates and champions who have an emotional attachment to your brand, products and services.
Ultimately, the best sales people are happy customers. So look after them and you’ll be amazed at the lengths they’ll go for you.
About the author
This article has been written for ByteStart by Daniel Bausor, co-author of ‘The Customer Catalyst – driving sustainable business growth in the Customer Economy’.
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