The Art of Genuine and Sensational Customer Obsession
There’s a lot of talk in business circles these days about customer obsession. But for too many companies that’s all it is, talk.
Here’s how I know the customer obsession concept hasn’t sunk in for a company: Their salespeople are still relentlessly focused on product and price, even when they are selling in an environment where they will never again long-term have a competitive advantage in product or price. Think about that!
As distributors face off against the disruptive forces of change in the industry, product and price aren’t enough to differentiate you from competitors anymore, particularly when your competitors are new entrants to the industry. These companies, like Amazon Business, are often tech natives, don’t carry your overhead, and are coming to the market with innovative ideas about how to solve your customers’ pain points in totally unique ways.
What would keep your customers from defecting to one of these new companies? A seamless, delightful, carefully considered customer experience.
Take my recent experience in the lobby of the DoubleTree in Reading, Pennsylvania. There were five employees there to greet me — already a good sign — and when I needed help printing some documents, it was the head of maintenance who walked me down the hall.
Why did he volunteer for the task? Well, we got to talking and I asked him what his top 3 job responsibilities were, and he said this:
- Customer Service
- Customer Service
- Maintaining the building so we can deliver extraordinary customer service.
Do you think the salespeople that call him up every day know that customer service is his top priority? No, he says, all they’re interested in is selling their product — in an environment where they will never gain long-term competitive advantage selling that way.
Across every industry, customers are no longer pinning their loyalty to a company that has the best price or most innovative products. Instead, customers offer their loyalty to companies with exceptional customer experience. That’s where true marketplace differentiation is taking place — and that’s where companies are winning on revenue too.
- Companies that excel at customer experience drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.
- 84% of companies that improve their customer experience report an uplift in their revenue.
- 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
Delivering an amazing customer experience, derived from a customer obsession mindset, is where we need to invest. Why are so many salespeople still stuck on selling product and price?
Here’s my theory. Let’s go back to the DoubleTree for a moment. Of the people standing in that lobby, and even all the employees that I didn’t see, who’s responsibility was it to deliver excellent customer service?
If you’re stuck in a traditional mindset, I guarantee you wouldn’t say, “the head of maintenance.”
Great customer service is everyone’s responsibility, and truly customer-obsessed companies get that they must create a culture that supports that perspective. The employees of a customer-obsessed company do the following:
- Actually listen to customers. They ask questions that dig deeper into their customers’ challenges, pain points, successes and goals.
- Actively invent ways to improve your customers’ lives. They address their customers’ real and anticipated needs with urgency.
- Implement, test and improve innovative customer experience solutions. They are constantly honing and personalizing their customer experience.
If you want to offer a better customer experience, start with your current customers and interview them: Get to know them, their pain points, the joys of their jobs, their goals and the key factors that drive their decisions. Need help getting started? In my eBook, Distribution is Dead, I lay out all the key questions to ask in this interview. So get it started!
Customer obsession must be folded into your company’s DNA. It should be a structural component of your company’s culture and a driving force behind an innovative mindset.
Jeff Bezos wrote to his shareholders about customer obsession, and in his letter he wrote that “customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”
Your customers will always have problems, big and small, that need to be solved. Your current product may not solve those problems. But by listening, obsessing and solving for their needs, you will develop new products, services and experiences that do solve their problems. And you will win customers for life.
Founder | UnleashWD
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