All of us business people want to be different, don’t we? It’s the case we’re constantly touting in practically every message we put out into the marketplace. Our company is different from yours. Our product is better than theirs. Our service is superior to others. This is our U.S.P…It’s all about differentiation. It’s one of the engines of competitiveness in any market you can name.
Now let’s consider how much of that claimed difference is real. I mean, really real. Not just real by the skin of a marketing man’s teeth. Not just a perceived value, or a brand identity, but something your customer truly knows has just made all the difference between you and the other guy.
Ah, but I’ve given the game away too soon! I said the ‘C’ word!
Of course, it’s all about what the customer thinks is true and real about our organisations. And whilst brand values and company identities are a key part of why people buy the things they do (especially the things they repeatedly buy), the digital world has paradoxically accelerated the need for a genuine human engagement in all our interactions with our customers and clients.
I say ‘paradoxical’, because who would have predicted, say 10 years ago, that the online world would have driven the need for ever greater customer engagement? And not just the need, the ability for that engagement to be on the incredibly personal level it’s on now?
Back in those good old days, the discourse was all about how the digital world would be the end of us all! It would separate us, compartmentalise us in our little digital boxes.
Those sentiments haven’t aged terribly well, have they? We’re all more connected than ever before, and we’re all more reachable and contactable than ever before. We have Google and Facebook to thank for the volume and detail of data available to us all, about us all. And for companies, what does that mean?
It means customer expectations of engagement have risen to front and centre. If it’s easy to contact our friends and family via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email, why shouldn’t it be possible to do the same with the companies who sell us all our stuff? There’s no other answer. It simply should be that easy.
At dancing lion, it makes us wonder what has really driven the quiet revolution of customer centricity. It’s true the concept took hold in the 1990s, but without the unparalleled ability we now possess to have actual relationships with our customers (not those customer servicey fake ones we used to play around with), customer centricity in its true form would not be possible.
Customer centricity via data and social media – this has become the true differentiator. Personal interactions with every customer who wishes it. Proactive, personal relationships.
And who’s going to deliver all this? Our front line people are. And they can only deliver the Brand promise and a customer centric experience if all the people standing behind them are also immersed in that culture, too.
The change isn’t easy, it’s true. How many companies began life with a consciously implemented customer centric model? Because that’s what it takes. We have to know we’re doing it, and why.
But when the commitment has been made to make the shift to customer centricity, the change begins with, and is implemented at the sales level. Sales staff are trained to approach and develop customer relationships as being long term propositions. Customers are encouraged into genuine, reciprocal relationships on their preferred digital platforms. Communications are often proactively instigated on the company side. Complaints are resolved in public, for all to see. Poisonous situations are transmuted into glorious PR exercises. All your successes and failures in real time!
Sounds high-risk, doesn’t it? A little scary to be that vulnerable for all the world to see? But this is the world as it now is. There’s no choice, because it’s already happening. There’s no going back!
And so, from that point of implementation, the customer forces the wave of cultural change which must inevitably sweep across the entire organisation. The reason is obvious – you have opened the door to a model of operation where the customer’s needs and wants are determining your products, services, modes of communication and types of message.
This process requires structure and planning, with a skilful roll-out. It’s something dancing lion have great experience in, having assisted companies around the world adapt to, and thrive in the customer centric culture.
For an in-depth conversation about how we’ve transformed the customer service experiences of companies around the world, contact dancing lion today.