As an entrepreneur, you’re always thinking about your customers. But how much are you considering how they feel?
To provide a customer experience that wins clients and keeps them coming back for more, you have to focus on how they feel about and get value from your business at any touchpoint. When it works well, it's an experience that's consistent and universal, blending inspired people and intelligent systems that run through every area of your company. But you simply can't do it without building customer-centric thinking into your team culture. Here's how to get started.
What is a customer-centric culture?
Your company culture is the invisible force—the ethos of your business—that informs how you deliver your services on time, every time, exactly as promised. Having a customer-centric culture means that everything you develop in building your values and systems is centered around your customer—not just through the point where they actually engage with your business—but their total experience with your company.
To provide an incredible customer experience, you need to recognize that how your team implements your cultural values and standards directly relates to consistent results that the customer experiences (or misses out on). By establishing a well-organized management structure to grow and support a team that embraces your values, you’re investing in your company culture to effectively produce the experience you want to provide—from your customer’s first impressions through the delivery experience (and beyond).
Have a vision for your customer's ideal experience
A notable customer experience depends on each and every detail along the way. So, without a clear idea of the experience you want your customers to have, how can you possibly make it happen?
Envisioning what you want your customer’s ideal experience to feel like is the core of the process. Think about how you associate different emotions and needs when you’re looking to purchase a product or service: Most people tend to make purchases based on their emotions, and then back that decision up with logic. They’re not just buying what your business sells—they’re buying the familiarity, reassurance, reliability and convenience.
As much as these ideas and answers may already live in your head, they’ll never be effective until you’ve written them down. Here are some questions to help shape your vision:
- How are you reaching your prospects?
- What do you offer that your competitors do not?
- What specifically brings repeat customers back to your business?
- What do you hope your customer say about their experience?
- What is most important to your customers?
- What frustrations are you solving for them with your product or service?
- What desires are you fulfilling for them?
And no matter where you’re at in building and evaluating your business systems, always ask yourself, “What can we do better?"
Design your Brand Promise
Your Brand Promise builds upon your vision in order to define the relationship between your business and your customers. It fuels every element of your brand to build the emotional connection that your customers have with your business: how it makes them feel, what it reminds them of, why they want to choose your product or service over your competitors’, and so on.
Of course, it helps to understand who your ideal customer is and what they’d want out of an experience with your company. But even without this demographic and psychographic data, you can create a strong draft of your Brand Promise just by identifying your company values and weaving them together with your vision. Try consolidating your answers on how you envision your customer’s ideal experience into more compact, meaningful statements, starting with these two phrases:
- In every interaction with our business, I want our customers to feel...
- The one thing I want our customers to know about us is…
Develop a unified front among leadership
Having a customer experience vision is key, but what directly links that vision to the broader company culture? The answer is you and your leadership team. As a small business owner, you know the importance of leading by example: A leader sets the tone and direction for the business, affecting every facet of your company culture (for better and for worse).
The most radical thing you can do to make a positive impact on your customer service system is looking at how you’re managing yourself—and in turn, how you’re influencing your reporting managers and their teams. How well do you focus on your customer at every turn so that their experience aligns with the vision you’ve created? When do you find it difficult to maintain that focus, and why?
Growth in these areas sends a powerful message to your team about your commitment to a customer-centric culture. By supporting and mentoring your employees so that they too feel responsible for your customers’ experience, and by sharing in your values and vision, you’ll have a united team to upscale your business and overcome any obstacles along the way.
Avoid compromising customer experience for innovation
The drive to innovate within your business can test your commitment to your customer. You’ll always need to make certain improvements to your internal business systems that are designed to improve your bottom line or team satisfaction, but don’t let those efforts compromise your customer experience. In the end, it’s satisfied and loyal customers that keep your business growing and thriving, so that you can continue to make those improvements—and not the other way around.
Your customer experience culminates in customer fulfillment. Once you've built a strong customer-centric company culture, you can then follow through with a customer fulfillment process that not only satisfies but exceeds expectations. This is the equation that creates customers for life. And when you come right down to it, isn’t that the goal?
If you'd like support to develop your customer experience strategy in your business, reach out to us.