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happy customer

6 simple steps to encourage a customer-centric culture in your organization

by Teresa Meek
 
How can your organization keep customers coming back?

As famous business consultant Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of business is to attract and keep customers.”

Who would argue with that? Yet at many companies, people think customer satisfaction is the province of marketing and sales, not something they need to think about.

​The business you’ve so carefully built for years could be taken down by a swath of unhappy customers in minutes.

If that sounds like your company, think again. The whole reason retail giant Amazon has become so successful, its leaders say, is the company’s “customer obsession.” In today’s competitive world of customer blogs, forums, and Tweets, you can’t afford not to be customer-obsessed.

In a global survey1 commissioned by Ricoh, 70 percent of respondents said they would probably stop doing business with a company whose inefficient document processing slowed them down. A third said they would post negative reviews.

In another study2, 86 percent of customers said their purchase decision was affected by online reviews. Sixty-nine percent trusted them as much as personal recommendations, and 57 percent said they wouldn’t do business with a company that got negative reviews.

Think about it: the business you’ve so carefully built for years could be taken down by a swath of unhappy customers in minutes.

But get the customer-service equation right and your bottom line will improve. Seventy percent of customers will stick with you if you listen to them and resolve their complaint. And just a 2 percent increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10 percent. Two-thirds of the people in the Ricoh survey said they their revenues rose 10 percent after they improved customer-facing processes.
 

Simple steps

So how can you make your own company a paragon of customer service? Here’s a rough blueprint:


1. Start at the top. Make unbeatable customer service a part of your company’s mission. Make sure all executives and stakeholders are on board, and create an actionable plan.


2. Hire enthusiastic people and keep them engaged in their work. There’s a strong correlation between employee engagement and quality of service. Make sure everyone in the organization from bottom to top knows that creating a great customer experience is the reason they’re there.


3. Review all points of interaction with customers, both online and physical, and try to create a seamless environment to make transactions stress-free. Make sure employees record hang-up points, and encourage them to discuss them in meetings.

 
4. Get to know your customers on a deep level. Data analytics provides a treasure trove of information, but it’s easy to get lost in the gigabytes. Focus on a few simple metrics, including those that show where your customers hang out, Meet them on their turf, and pay attention to what they want, what makes them happy, and especially what makes them unhappy. Create a customer advisory board and chat rooms. Use tools that send feedback to everybody at your organization, rather than just the silo you think is appropriate. Good ideas can come from unexpected corners.

5. Create metrics for measuring your success in resolving customer problems.

6. Get your customers involved in your business, and your business involved with customers. Solicit ideas from customers about what they want, whether that’s a new product, additional features, more reliable parts, or more responsive service. Send the information directly to departments that can do something about it, and follow up. When possible, change your design or your smooth out your processes to meet customer demands. Then publicize the changes…and ask for your next round of feedback.

Simple steps to make your company a paragon of customer service

How to improve customer facing processes.
 
Teresa Meek
Teresa Meek is a Seattle-based writer with 15 years’ experience in journalism. She has covered business, technology, health and culture, and has written for the Miami Herald, Newsday, the Baltimore Sun, and the Seattle Times. She has also worked with a number of corporate clients, including Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, and Microsoft.
 
 
1 "Organizational Blind Spot: The Role of Document-Driven Business Processes in Driving Top-Line Growth" September 2012. http://services.ricoh.com/images/uploads/literature/knowledge_center/IDC_Revenue_ExSum_Ricoh_English_FINAL.pdf
2 "Online Brand Reputation Management – Keeping Bad Online Reviews From Killing Your Business." business2community.com. September 6, 2012. http://www.business2community.com/branding/online-brand-reputation-management-keeping-bad-online-reviews-from-killing-your-business-0271895#EMVmKivE5Xujvabl.97