14 ways to improve Customer Centricity in 2014

By Betina Munkholm, Loyalty Group

Is Customer Centricity (CC) on the agenda for your business in 2014? We have compiled a number of key areas, that unfortunately is often forgotten in every day work. Be inspired to get structure into your CC activities, strengthen your customer focus and realise the financial benefit.

1. Put value on increased Customer Centricity

At the end of the day CC is all about making more money. Of course it is both nice and convenient to have satisfied customers, but in the boardrooms it is only financial figures that really matter. The question is have you done the calculations to secure full support for the CC work?

2. Set up targets for your Customer Centricity work for the next 12 months

Increased CC is a "fluffy" goal that is almost impossible to measure and control. Therefore, start by breaking down the overall goal into specific targets and actions that make sense for the different departments and employees involved. Discuss what the departments can contribute and how you can measure that you are on the right track.

3. Consider how top management can be "Advocats"  and front figures for the Customer Centricity work

Employees don't do what the management say, but what the management actually do. Therefore make a plan for how the management can visualize the targets and lead by example in every day life. How can the management get closer to the customers and send clear signals that CC is high up on the agenda ?

4. Create motivation and get commitment from the employees

You may have ambitious and well defined goals, but if they are not complied with the staff who serve the customers everyday, you are on the wrong track. Be sure to get the employees ivolved from the beginning, show them the value of increased customer focus and make them able to create long-term customer relationships.

5. Measure the Customer Experience at key touch points

Do you know how a walk through your business looks like seen through your customers' eyes? Take the  customer's  perspective and uncover all the relevant touch points in your relationship. Make sure you measure the Customer Experience at the most important points of contact , so you can make an effort to improve and make it visable to the customers.

6. Identify what drives customer loyalty

Many customer surveys is exclusively focused on satisfaction, although it is loyalty that creates increased profit. Satisfied customers can be easily tempted by competitors, while loyal customers faithfully return to buy and recommend you to others. It is therefore crucial that you uncover what actually drives loyalty.

7. Take advantage of opportunities for additional sales to your existing customers

Are you so busy to get new prospects that you completely forget to take advantage of  the additional potential of sales to existing customers? It is both easier and cheaper to sell to customers who have already built a solid relationship. The most loyal customers are also more open to buying more, so uncover their needs, taylormake the messages and go for the "easy" sale first.

8. Make customer knowledge available to the employees

Knowledge about customers is worthless unless it is translated into action. Therefore consider how the various departments have access to customer information and how they should use this to target their efforts and optimize the customer experience . Do you have the necessary systems and processes in place?

9. Have a defined process for handling of disloyal customers

All businesses see customers go; - the question is what have you intend to do about it? If you have an overview of customer satisfaction and loyalty, you also have the opportunity to anticipate and prevent customer churn . Systemize the customer metrics, bring the disloyal customers into the light and have a "Customer Rescue Operation" ready.

10. Use customer knowledge to individualise your dialogue

You may already have knowledge about your customers at an overall level , but can you target your messages to each individual customer? This requires you to collect unique and detailed knowledge of the individual customer and not only concentrate on average calculations. Are your customer surveys on a general or individual level?

11. Consider how you can exceed your customers' expectations

The key to loyal customers is an effective management of their expectations. When you know the customer's expectations, you can work to actively control them, meet them and not least, exceed them. Ask yourself how you can surprise customers positively and give them just a little more than they expect.

12. Be sure to share the positive customer stories internally

It can be a long process to increase the organisations CC and it requires changes to both employees and customers. Be sure to share and celebrate successes internally - whether they are new orders or positive comments from clients. The small visible successes are helping to create important drive and motivation in the every day work life.

13. Reward employees based on customer targets

No matter how many nice words are said by executives for their increased customer focus, a remuneration package always work better as incentive. The companies that are most successful with customer centricity, pays both their employees and management on the basis of customer loyalty. Therefore make clear objectives that it's profitable to reach.

14. Re-think and question established standards

One of the largest obstacles to an increased customer focus are phrases like "how we usually do" or "we've always done ". It is often necessary to re-think and challenge the established standards in order to create a better customer experience . For this reason, ask yourself;  What can we do differently and better than we used to?