Businesses have the perfect opportunity to really get to know their customers’ wants and needs. So, why aren’t most of them doing it?
When Danielle MacInnis, owner of MacInnis Marketing, asks senior managers of client businesses about the last time they had a really good conversation with their customers, most say their sales people chat with customers every so often.
“That’s very different to understanding what your customers really want and need,” says MacInnis. “Being customer-centric means actually having the customer at the core of your organisation. It means you’re building your service or product from a customer need, so, intrinsically, everything you do has the customer at its core.
“Often managers think they know what their customers want and they then try to bolt this on to an existing offering, when, in fact, the customers’ expectations were completely different in the first place.”
Complete a business audit
When a business is looking to become truly customer-centric, says MacInnis, it must begin with an audit of its various customer touchpoints and ask several honest questions of its customers and staff.
She suggests looking at key research that has been done in the past with existing customers then seeking fresh information from current customers, as well as past customers who no longer deal with the business.
“Find out what they thought of your service and of your products,” says MacInnis. “Find out how you served them, what they liked and what they didn’t like and what they really thought of your brand. Then do exactly the same research with your staff.
“I believe the best brands have a great balance between creating a brand / identity / purpose that customers love and that employees want to be a part of. This should be plotted from both customer and staff angles.”
Implement the changes
Once the information is gathered, says MacInnis, a detailed strategy must be drawn up in order to implement the changes across all levels of the business.
“On a lot of company websites you see words like ‘trust’ and ‘integrity’, but they don’t explain how they live those values,” she says. “They don’t articulate what this means convincingly enough.”
It’s important for businesses to give customers an open promise about the way it will act – this equips customers with knowledge of what they’re buying into.
So, the next step is defining and communicating the company’s value proposition to all staff and customers. The company’s story of where it is and where it wants to be, as well as the values that make customers come back, must be written and communicated.
“Who do we serve? Why do we serve? Why does our business exist? What are the touchpoints?” asks MacInnis. “Whether you’re the receptionist or the CEO, you’re all responsible for making the values come to life.”
Doing customer-centric well
Sportsgirl – understands its customers and sets offers and events to match their wants and needs.
Man With A Van – has a consistent voice and message across all customer touchpoints.
aussieBum – uses social media very well to give customers a true voice within the business.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the interviewees, and not of Australia Post.
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