Customer obsession. No, it’s not about buying t-shirts with your favourite customer’s face on it, or turning up to their am-dram performances. It’s something a little bit more complex, and far more effective, than that.
It’s the idea of changing every facet of your company into focusing on an improved customer experience, which leads to the employment of a customer-first approach in every team, from sales, to marketing, to the customer service department.
According to a Zendesk survey, over half the participants (54%) reported that a solitary positive interaction with a company led them to increase their purchases or usage of its products/services.
So, the trick to customer obsession is continuously adding value to customer experience. Now, that sounds easy, right? But the most impactful companies go above and beyond. They collect feedback regularly and prioritise customer needs in every business goal.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, knows this. In fact, he once said “If there’s one thing that Amazon.com is about, it’s obsessive attention to the customer experience end to end.” This attitude keeps customers, retains their loyalty, and delights them, just like Amazon continues to do.
So, how do you achieve this?
The Difficulties with Customer Obsession
Before we start off on the how-to, we’ve got to consider the tricky parts of customer obsession.
When you hear many stories of fantastic companies pulling out the big guns for their customers, other smaller companies may start to believe it’s not right for them.
For example, there was Morton’s steakhouse meeting a man at an airport with a steak, because he tweeted he wanted one. Or when Nordstrom accepted a set of tires that were returned, even though they don’t sell tires. But none of these are done with a tight budget considered, or are even really scalable.
But there are ways to do this as a small or medium company, too. With automation and artificial intelligence, even finite time and resources can be utilised for customer obsession. For example, interactive voice response can be used for when customers call, allowing for easy and effective customer service. Another effective strategy is to utilize print-on-demand services, offering your customers the option of custom clothing without the need to manage inventory or handle shipping logistics.
It is also important for there to be alignment across every department. This requires thorough and constant communication in order to provide the best experience possible. Remember, this isn’t a one person, or even one team, job.
The main thing to consider is the five qualities of customer obsession. No need for fireworks or theatrics. All customers really need is empathy, respect, simplicity, communication, and acknowledgement that your company is customer-focused.
Right, then. Let’s look at the four simple ways you can introduce customer obsession into your company, starting with:
1. Retention, Not Acquisition
We’re sure you’ve all heard the stat – retaining a customer can be 5 to 25x cheaper than acquiring a new one.
Focusing on acquisition is what makes a customer obsessed company just that – customer obsessed. Many companies focus on marketing and sales, bringing in new customers constantly.
But it’s important to take a far more methodical approach. True customer obsessed companies consider every element of customer service throughout the buyer journey, and look to create meaningful relationships with new and existing customers alike.
This doesn’t mean these companies don’t want to attract new customers, but instead they maintain a large focus on making their current customers as satisfied as possible.
Closing the deal should be of complete and utter benefit to your customer, and once a deal is closed the company should add more value to the customer experience, increasing your chances of retaining that customer significantly.
This can be done by digital onboarding and order management experience that will introduce them to the company’s services. But it shouldn’t stop there; a business should always look for more ways to increase the value of the relationship.
It’s not just about reducing turnover, either. When potential customers see a company with loads of happy customers, they are more likely to interact with that brand, too.
2. Embrace Change
As marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin says, we are “moving from an era of finding customers for our products [brands] to an era of finding products [brands] for our customers”. So, what the customer wants, the customer gets.
Most companies focus on selling what their customers want today. But customer-obsessed companies think further ahead, anticipating where their customer is heading, what they want next, and how they can deliver this.
Your customers’ needs will always shift, so brands need to anticipate the need for change by actively sensing what is changing in their customers’ wants and values. This obsession with the customer and their attitudes allow companies to face forward and act with an agile mindset.
For example, LEGO focuses on this approach, and they continue to build relevance even in a difficult market. The company has made it a mission to understand the concept of play, as well as the future of play. They analyse vast amounts of data (more on this later) and conduct customer research on what’s next. In fact, its massive portfolio is built, and develops, to keep customers engaged as they grow and change.
The company also delved into digital entertainment to meet customer demand. They partnered with franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars on video games. On top of this, they developed an online community that allows for user generated content, and selects winners to create actual products. This ability to be agile, and have a willingness to meet their customers in different places and industries is what has kept LEGO relevant for all these years.
3. See Your Customers as People
Your customers are online, meet them there. They will be speaking about their experience on social media, and on review sites, and you will see how they see your brand in context to the world around them. So, as we’ve mentioned previously, community is vital.
His catchphrase for the presentation was “Stop selling to sell more”. Basically, this means to stop pushing to constantly sell, and instead provide value to your customers in other ways.
The key to this is creating good, consistent (and consistently good) social engagement and content. By following this approach in the ‘glory days’ of social media, Sole was generating thousands of likes and follows, with George standing in front of the camera, and at the forefront of the approach.
The company also developed their two-way communication strategy. Every comment counts, after all. Sole took the time to reply with value to every individual. Value is the key; a half-done comment is just as good as no comment at all. The brand is clearly not listening to the customer. It’s about giving heavily to the audience, without them having to give back in return. After all, an audience doesn’t want to be sold to constantly.
4. Data Data Data
Customer obsession requires obsession with data.
This means focusing on an in-depth understanding of customer goals, and using your services to support them. Your company should re-define itself as issue solvers, helping customers gain their desired outcomes. This requires creative thinking – your initial proposals or offerings might not always fit what your customers want, but that doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks.
Even if you can’t help directly, you can look for chances to direct them towards success, meaning you have a chance of developing a long-term and genuine relationship.
But once you get your customer data, don’t let it sit around and do nothing. Analyse it for trends and common problems, and utilise your results. It is important to share your findings with the rest of the organisation, too. There’s nothing worse than a data silo, after all. This can prevent your teams from accessing important, and potentially highly useful, information.
This data can help marketing, sales, and customer service teams act in a timely and effective way, and will delight your customers. Remember, it’s not just about gathering massive amounts of data and building a complete customer feedback loop. Instead, study the customer data you already have, and find out who’s buying and why.
So, to sum up: customer obsession is like having a crush on your customers, but in a business-savvy way. It’s all about continuously adding value to their experience and making them fall head over heels for your company.
From Jeff Bezos to LEGO, successful companies understand that customer obsession is the secret to keeping customers happy, loyal, and gushing about your brand.
Don’t be that company constantly chasing after new customers like a desperate Tinder date. Be the one that pampers their existing customers, making them feel so special that they’ll never want to swipe right on your competitors.
Embrace change, stay agile, and keep surprising your customers with delightful experiences.