Turning customers into raving fans

I well remember the days when we all ran our businesses by a very simple adage: “the customer is always right”.  That seemed a panacea for keeping the customer satisfied and seemed quite sufficient for running a successful business. Today, however, everything is more complex and challenging.  Our very survival in business requires that more and more delighted customers beat down the doors to our businesses. And, in fact, if we want to thrive rather than just survive, our customers must become raving fans of our businesses. That can happen when we are obsessively customer-centric.

What does obsessive customer-centricity involve?

The starting point is to focus on each customer touchpoint in your business. That means assessing (for better or for worse) the experience of your customers whenever they connect with your business, be it visiting your website, on the phone, purchasing on-line, walking in the front door, at the counter, transacting a sale, and the like. The aim is to improve the customer experience at each such touchpoint until customers become surprised and delighted by actually experiencing something quite exceptional in each interaction with your business.

Secondly, your business needs to “be different to make a difference” so that you truly stand out in the eyes of customers as the “go-to” business in your industry or sector. This means that you need to discover and noticeably improve current products or services above and beyond those of your competitors. “Same old” will not cut it in the marketplace.

Riders on becoming obsessively customer-centric

But, there are three important riders.

First, realise that all power in business has now shifted to customers.  They look for the value and benefit that your business will deliver to them and for the opportunities they can get from your business.

Secondly, no matter what your business sells, you are in the people business.  You need

to value people and, to some degree or another, seek to build enjoyable, life-giving relationships with customers by taking a genuine interest in them and their lives, as opportunity might arise.

Thirdly, the degree to which a business is customer-centric depends on the extent to which it enjoys the trust and confidence of its customers.  Consistently keep promises and assurances, and always be entirely reliable and dependable in doing what you say, when you say you will do it.

Tips for becoming obsessively customer-centric

  1. Picture exactly what your customers will get in the future that they are not getting today, once your business is of cess of leak customer-centric.
  2. Obsessive customer-centricity starts with you, the business leader.
  3. Coach and inspire your team to become obsessively customer-centric.
  4. Make customer-centricity integral to your workplace culture.
  5. Create a customer care charter, listing the standards required for delivering exceptional product and service, followed by policies, processes and protocols about what must happen at each customer touchpoint.
  6. Seek ideas, guidance and feedback from customers and team members about improving customer experience.
  7. Provide a full satisfaction guarantee (of some sort, not necessarily involving a full refund) in respect to product and service.
  8. Create a list of free customer benefits.
  9. Price discounting is a very short term and inadequate solution of last resort.
  10. Never, ever ‘over promise and under deliver’.
  11. Give and serve, not “get, get and get”.
  12. Have fun with customers and enjoy your relationship with them!

To turn customers into raving fans, become obsessively customer-centric in all aspects of your business. Then, just stand clear of the doors!

David Sharrock, Managing Principal, Sharrock Pitman Legal

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