How to build a customer obsessed company

Best practices from CX-transformer, Joakim Thörn

How many companies are customer obsessed today?

Far too many managers think of themselves and their company as ‘customer obsessed’ without even listening to their customer’s thoughts on the matter. I think this is one of the biggest threats to achieving amazing customer experiences (CX) and it needs to change. Your self-reflecting view of your company is one thing, but the real value comes from your customers and how they perceive their experience to be with your company. If you don’t listen, you can’t achieve amazing customer experiences. It’s a fact.

Many of the companies still work in silos and are struggling to take alternative perspectives on their strategy and step into the customer’s shoes. It‘s important to understand the difference between CX and customer service, which requires an element of empathy and understanding of your colleagues’ and customer’s emotions. This is crucial for success.

Today only a few companies can title themselves as being customer-obsessed with established competencies and requirements in CX and brand attributes. There is a lot of money to earn for those companies who embrace and learn how to create amazing customer experiences – and we’re talking billions.

Ok, so where do you start?

The short answer is: start with yourself!

The long answer is: if there is a permanent and sustainable development towards being customer-focused and you can deliver constant value to all stakeholders, you need to start with the owner and the board. The board needs to understand that the value of the company is in the customer’s willingness to stay longer, commitment to pay more and recommend the company or product to a friend or colleague. A lack of this understanding generally stops the CEO with new directives to allocate time and find resources in CX. When you have a CEO who is a believer, the journey needs to begin with a clear and strong vision. One example is the leading Swedish telecom operator Telia and their former CEO Helene Barnekow, who traveled around the country and talk about customer obsession. That’s what I call real passion for CX!

Really getting to know your customers is one of the essential steps you should invest time in to achieve amazing customer experiences. You need to ask yourself… who is your customer? What do they want? What are the dreams, goals and values? And above all, what are your customers trying to achieve and what do they do in all the so-called ‘micro-moments’ when interacting with you. You need to create a persona that is researched and dressed with all the important attributes. Developing a persona could be done by manual non-controlling deep interviews and/or through an automated AI function such as Effectively IBM Watson Personality Insight or a combination of these two. This means that during the customer life cycle steps you can become extremely relevant and create perceived value in all interactions.

In the next step, I would recommend delving into the depth of the customer journey. You need to understand what the customer is trying to accomplish and how CX works both offline and online. Once you know this, you will know what channels and contact points you can shut down and what you need to develop. You also know your company’s pain points, where you could deliver value and where you need to ensure that you deliver beyond the customer’s expectation. I know, it’s a complex ecosystem and you need to handle it accordingly.

Do you have a good example of a company that have made this transformation?

Yes! IKEA ran an initiative where employees lived with IKEA customers for two weeks to understand their customer’s everyday problems and challenges, all in order to design products and services based on the customer’s needs and expectations. They also know where to listen and create dialogue in the customer’s journey through customer experience feedback. Forget about long, boring and dumb questionnaires where the customer falls asleep. IKEA uses a powerful ‘Voice of the Customer Program’ throughout the customer journey. I’m talking about successfully bringing together the operational data with experience data.

What is the biggest challenge in this transformation?

The biggest challenge is to create CX ambassadors internally. To put together the equation in the management team that lowers the manager’s guilt and creates conditions and abilities where people can work together. The CX ambassadors can thereon take responsibility for cross-functional initiatives that strengthen both employee and CX. From my experience, many people want to join the CX journey, but they talk a lot and do little. Instead, you need to be brave, aim high and you need to invest resources, time and money to create results. You cannot fake it.

Joakim Thörn

Guest Author: Effectly