As countless North American brands are discovering (and rediscovering) these days, the post-pandemic path forward continues to be a bumpy one. Indeed, many “customer-centric” brands of the pre-2020 era are coming to the sobering realization that, in order to fully rebound, they’ll need to do a lot more than “re-open” or scale up.
For many organizations, success in 2021 and beyond will require a reassessment – and radical redefinition – of “customer-centricity” in a post-COVID world. Why? Well, to quote Blake Morgan in her recent Forbes article:
“Just because a company was once customer-centric doesn’t mean it still is in 2021.”
In reading Morgan’s “six factors of customer-centric companies,” I couldn’t help reflecting on the countless conversations I’ve been having with retail brand leaders and health care providers lately. The issue for them? They’re as acutely focused as ever on understanding and meeting their consumers’ changing needs. The problem: COVID exposed several gaping holes in their customer care providers’ desire or ability to do the same.
If you’re in the process of rethinking your customer care or CX strategy, ask yourself where your brand – and where your customer care provider – really rate according to Morgan’s 6 factors. I reframed them as critical quiz questions that every brand leader should be asking:
- Who is on the Executive Team? Are they Customer-Centric Leaders?
- How does the Organization Define, Focus on, and Deliver – Personalized Experiences?
- Is there Total Commitment to Making Your Customers’ Lives Easier?
- How Strong and Successful is the Investment in Digital Transformation
- Is Data Proactively Used? For What Purposes?
- Is this an Organization Capable of Adapting Quickly, Innovating, and Pivoting as Necessary?
You can read what Morgan says about each of these critical success factors, below. As you do, you might recognize many of the warning signs about your customers’ changing needs, and how well you and your customer care provider are meeting those needs. If you would like to know more about how Skybridge Americas has maintained seamless, superior CX to our clients’ customers for years, including 2020, please reach out. We would love to talk about how we can help you deliver on your brand promise.
What Does It Mean To Be Customer-Centric In 2021?
By Blake Morgan
Many companies aim to be customer-focused but struggle to know what it actually looks like and how to truly make customers the center of their businesses.
Customer experience is continually evolving as technology and customer demands change. Just because a company was once customer-centric doesn’t mean it still is in 2021.
What does it mean to be customer-centric in 2021? Consider these six factors of customer-centric companies:
Led By Customer-Centric Leaders
True customer-centricity starts at the top. The most customer-centric leaders set the example to ingrain a customer focus into the culture and make customers central to every decision the company makes.
Truly customer-centric leaders systemize customer-focused leadership and development in their organizations to train the next generation of leaders how to serve and connect with customers. When training is an organized part of the company, customer-centricity becomes a long-term hallmark for the company instead of something fleeting that fades when a customer-centric leader leaves.
Tricia Griffith is a customer-focused leader as CEO of Progressive Insurance. She sets the tone within the company by continually listening to customers and employees and taking risks to try new things to best serve customers. Her creative thinking around customers has created a culture where employees are encouraged and empowered to take big risks for customers. And her leadership makes a difference—Progressive is regularly included in lists of satisfied customers, and the company has a 94% employee satisfaction score. Clearly, customer-focused leaders make a difference.
Focus on Personalization
Modern customers have experienced hyper-personalization from big companies like Spotify, Amazon and Netflix and now expect every company, big and small, to offer high levels of personalization. In 2021, companies can’t afford to not prioritize personalization.
Personalization is at the heart of customer-centricity. When a company is wholly focused on customers, it wants to deliver unique experiences to each person instead of one-size-fits-all solutions. Customer-centric companies know that simply plugging a customer’s name into a mass email isn’t enough—they need to create a unique experience tailored to each customer.
Tesla focuses on personalization throughout the entire customer experience, but especially through its driver profiles. Tesla cars remember each driver’s preference for seat, steering wheel and mirror location, as well as suspension, braking, radio presets and even driving style. The seamless integration of driver profiles into the Tesla experience makes the car an extension of the driver and allows each person to drive the car in the way they want and that is most comfortable to them.
Personalization comes in multiple forms, from AI-powered apps to recommendations and products designed specifically for each customer.
Make Customers’ Lives Easier, Even If They Have To Work Harder
One of the main things customers are looking for in 2021 is convenience. They want to be able to get the information and service they need on their schedules, not on the schedules of the brands they do business with. Customer-centric companies realize the importance of convenience and go out of their way to make customers’ lives easier, even if that means they have to work harder.
It’s easier for companies to make customers call a contact center between certain hours to get help. But limited availability means customers are stuck to only getting assistance between certain hours and often having to sort through a difficult phone tree or explain their situation multiple times. A customer-centric alternative is a self-service option where customers can chat with a bot at any time of day or night and then be seamlessly transferred to a human agent if they need extra assistance. Self-service options may be more difficult for companies and require more time and resources, but they make customers’ lives easier…
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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