Stop Trying to Satisfy Your Customers

It’s not enough to provide a good product or service at a fair price. Companies need to understand the customer experience on every level, from delivery of value to emotional satisfaction because, by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

The most successful companies know that customers have to be at the center of their decision-making process and develop strategies that deliver a consistently positive experience at every touch point. That includes customer care and satisfaction of course, but it also includes advertising, product and service offerings and features, the purchasing process, ease of use, website usability, product and service reliability. In short, everything the consumer interacts with during their buying journey.

Your customers don’t come to you for your satisfaction. They come to you to solve their problems. That means your business must be structured around solving that problem. That’s easier said than done and evolving into a customer-centric organization is no small feat.

If you want to satisfy your customers, there’s not much I can do to help you, but if you’re in the business of solving problems, here’s how to do it:

Satisfaction ≠ Solved Problems

Customer satisfaction is all about making sure the customer is happy; Customer Experience is about how they felt during the entire process as you helped them solve their problem.
For instance, if I go to see a personal trainer because I’m overweight, and the trainer’s main goal is to make me happy, the trainer might tell me, “You look great, keep doing what you’re doing.” Am I satisfied with my experience? Absolutely. Did that solve my problem? No, I’m still going to die of a heart attack at 42.
Making sure your customers are satisfied is a good thing, but it’s not the same thing as solving their problem, and like every good organization, you’re in the business of solving problems.
So how do you know what problem you’re solving? It starts with…

Customer Connectedness

We know the only way to improve customer relationships is to ensure your customers aren’t just satisfied, but that you’re truly solving their problems, but how do you know your organization understands their problems? It starts with understanding the customer journey.

The customer journey is the process that consumers go through to purchase your product, beginning with their search for your product, service, or brand, and then their experience with landing pages, product information, marketing, shopping carts, purchasing your product, and finally the support the receive after the sale.

The only way to ensure you understand the consumer’s journey and their pain points along that journey is by hearing directly from your customers. Most companies project their own gut-feelings or rely on anecdotes to understand how customers feel about their brand or product, but if you don’t have a system in place to receive accurate and unbiased feedback from your customers, you’re throwing away money. Consumer opinion research can give you clear insights into exactly what the customer journey looks like and can help you mitigate potential pain points before they impact your bottom-line.

Expertly researched and unbiased consumer opinions and insights must be embedded in every aspect of your operation. Only then can you begin to develop…

Customer-Centric Values

Often, we view things like taglines, mission statements, and vision statements as another piece of marketing copy, but they’re so much more than that. Use these tools as opportunities to make promises to your customers that your organization is solely-committed to keeping.

For many firms, this will require an organizational shift from the traditional “silo” priorities to prioritizing customers at every level of the organization. Aligning your organizational values and mission with your customers’ expectations is the first step in delivering an excellent customer experience, but remember, brand values don’t mean anything without…

Customer-Focused Leadership

Once you’ve committed to a clear customer-focused purpose, the leaders in the organization are responsible for communicating that purpose. Engagement and culture develop top-down, so it’s important to ensure that leadership understands how each organizational function impacts the customer experience and is constantly communicating that with their team.

If you’re leadership is all-in on your customer-experience focus, the next step is making sure you’re growing…

Employee Engagement

Customer Satisfaction is an organizational function, like marketing or accounting, but everyone in your organization is responsible for the customer experience.

Ensuring your employees are engaged is the best way to ensure your customers will be engaged as well. Satisfied employees are more productive and efficient, take ownership of problems and solutions, and are they’re more likely to go the extra mile to help their colleagues and customers. Firms with highly-engaged employees typically post significantly higher shareholder returns than other firms. Having a third-party firm conduct employee engagement research can reveal potential problems that may be holding your employees back from providing superior service to your customers.
If you can couple this with a customer-centric focus, where every employee understands each step of the customer journey and the role their job plays in that journey, you’re going to see growth. In short, engaged employees = loyal customers.