We do know that customer experience is the new battleground for organisations. It is the new marketing. The product/service is not the heart of a business anymore. The customer is. No matter how big or small a business is, it cannot flourish without being a customer-centric business. However, many times, organisations are so busy making a sale, that they forget to deliver customer delight – as promised by their marketing. Unfortunately, this is where those businesses lose. On the other hand, successful companies go beyond the product/service they sell. Their focus on customer experience makes them successful, and in turn profit making.
CEO of Society3 Group, Axel Schultze, analysed 1000 Fortune companies and brought about an undeniable nexus between customer centricity and profitability. According to the study, those companies that create positive and memorable customer experiences are profitable. On the other hand, those businesses that have a negative brand reputation are making lesser profits. Case in point: the customer experience of Starbucks is legendary and that is obvious in its profits, whereas, its competitor Wendy’s is not doing as good as Starbucks.
Customer centricity is a definite indicator of profitability. Period.
Here are a few more reasons to substantiate the claim:
Focus on customer experience helps in increasing profitability through three means: customer retention, customer referrals, and customer development.
A laser-sharp focus on customer experience leads to happier customers who will want to stay with you longer and buy more. Such loyal customers, in turn, not only recommend you to friends and folks but also insist that the friends do business with you. As Jeff Bezos says,
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”
Once you have a loyal customer base, competitors find it very difficult to lure your customer away from you. Such customers will also be less price sensitive. In other words, once they are confident of your service levels, they will be ready to spend more on you. Hence, it is also much easier to sell to such customers.
Providing a fantastic overall customer experience is the new marketing. With the digitally connected world that we live in, a good customer experience can result in thousands of potential new relationships. However, a negative customer experience can lead to far greater harm than the good ones. Here is a quote from Jeff Bezos again
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.”
A case in point is Zappos, which is widely considered as one of the most customer-centric companies in the world. Tony Hsieh built a billion-dollar company by hardly investing anything in traditional marketing. In his own words, “Our business is based on repeat customers and word of mouth. There’s a lot of value in building up our brand name and what it stands for. We view the money that we spend on customer service as marketing money that improves our brand.”
Once you have the customer at the heart of your business, you know his wants and needs and you build your processes around the same. This also means that you scrap out all the processes that don’t add any value to the customer experience, thus reducing costs. On top of this, with a focus on delivering customer delight, you tend to have fewer unhappy customers who would complain and whine over every little thing and increase your cost of serving them.
Although it is said that happier employees create happier customers, the reverse is also true. If a business is just focused on meeting its targets without caring much about the experience of their acquired customers, everyone in the organisation would be driven towards acquiring new customers. Even the customer service people will be expected to push more sales when customers reach for support. I am sure we have all been on those customer service calls where instead of focussing on resolving our problem the service agent would soon switch to selling an add-on or something. These practices obviously create super unhappy customers that ultimately increases the number of complaints, employee churn, and operational costs!
Though some customer-centric decisions may seem costly to the organisation, they will turn out to be profitable in the long run.
Very recently, we heard the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella come up with this absolute gem,”We no longer talk about the lagging indicators of success, right, which is revenue, profit. What are the leading indicators of success? Customer love.”
Microsoft is clearly changing its strategies to adapt to the customers, making them happier and rekindling the lost love. Under his leadership, Microsoft released the Windows 10, a free upgrade for customers who owned a valid Windows 7 or 8 license. The hapless users of Windows 8 breathed a sigh of relief and the response to this new version was immensely positive. Windows 10 ensured that customers who own a Windows Phone, a PC and an XBox will be able to work seamlessly and cohesively across all their devices. Though the free upgrade may have cost Microsoft in terms of its revenue, I believe the ‘customer love’ it earned will help Microsoft book long term profits!
In conclusion, while everyone knows that customer experience is super important in today’s world, it is not easy for business leaders to invest in it without seeing a clear business case. I hope the four points above build a strong business case in favour of the customer. Would love to get your feedback in comments below.
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