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Customer Obsession in the Digital Age

 In Digital Marketing

There is no doubt that customer service and experience should always be top of mind for any marketer or brand executive.

But customer obsessed?

Now, that’s an entirely different ballgame.

The thing is, a handful of brands out there are flipping the idea of customer service, and thus the entire customer experience, on its head and making it a fundamental part of their brand and company culture.

Taking this approach is changing quite a bit of the traditional methods. It’s building the customer experience into every facet of the company, from marketing to production. And, it’s taking a pro-active, instead of a re-active, approach when it comes to customer service.

The brands who are going all in on customer obsession, brands like Amazon or Zappos, find it pays off.

This goes deeper than just understanding your market. Instead, it’s all about truly understanding your customer.

The Dangers of Poor Customer Experiences

Now, you might think that with social media and the digital age marketing is only going to improve.

In many cases, that’s true. Smart brands and marketers have been able to capture all sorts of data about their customers and use social channels to personally connect with them in ways that just didn’t happen before.

For marketers today, we live in interesting times. Social media, though everywhere, is still incredibly young and it has made a massive impact on how brands and marketers present themselves to customers.

The old route of customer service, which for many seemed to disappear with mom and pop shops, is now back.

But, with the ease and reach of social media, there is one big issue brands who are trying to improve their customer service need to be on the lookout for.

Customers expect to have good service, and if they don’t? Well, it’s far easier to complain about it in a very visual and vocal way.

Need proof?

According to the American Express Global Service Barometer, “Consumers are 2 times more likely to share their bad customer service experiences than they are to talk about positive experiences.”

Think about how that can become even more amplified online.

Rather than complaining about a bad customer service job to your spouse or best friend or person behind you in line at the post office, you can just tweet it out.

That makes brands very nervous.

Here’s a perfect example.

Hasan Sayed discovered British Airways had lost his father’s luggage. He felt the customer service department was not responding adequately to his requests, so he decided to let as many people know as possible.
customer obsessed Scratch-it

Notice anything different about that tweet? Yup, he actually promoted it with a Twitter ad!

The tweet was seen by approximately 77,000 people just on Twitter, and countless others from the news organizations that ran the story. This Mashable post on the story alone gained another 20,000 views.

Unfortunately, British Airways in this case, was not customer obsessed, and absolutely botched the response from the get-go, highlighting the issue even more.

Now, that’s a pretty extreme example, but one that should highlight the dangers of not paying attention to customer service and certainly not pivoting towards customer obsession.

The Numbers Behind Customer Obsession

Of course, there’s good real-life examples of brands that succeed in building a culture around customer obsession.

But what’s the real reasoning behind it?

Are they doing it to provide an experience for the customer that they won’t get anywhere else, or do the numbers make it seem like the smart thing to do?

The answer is probably a little bit of both.

The case of how customers behave, we have tons of data on it. And, that data points to the fact that customer service matters:

  • “A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related.” – Bain & Co.
  • “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.” – McKinsey
  • “98% of respondents said that customer experience was among the top 3 factors.” – Kissmetrics

So yes, service matters, but for more than you think.

One of the biggest reasons why customer obsessed brands are going all in on it is because they see a dramatically higher numbers when it comes to revenue, repeat business, emotional connection and satisfaction, and publicity.

customer obsessed Scratch-it

Image: Helpscout

They also see lower costs of acquisition:

So, it’s not surprising to see how the brands who are deeply focusing in on the total customer experience are seeing the benefits add up quickly.

What Brands Are Doing Right

If your brand wants to embrace customer obsession, that’s a good thing.

But, realize it’s not something that can happen overnight, and there is a lot more to customer obsession than just providing customer service. It actually needs to be incorporated fully into the culture of the brand.

That being said, there are plenty of brands getting it right, and they are doing things that you can emulate to enhance your own customer experience.

Get to Know Your Customer

This should go without saying, but think of your customers as people, not just a segment or a persona. The more personal and connected you can get with them, the better. Don’t hesitate to continuously ask them for their feedback.

Don’t End the Relationship After The Buy

One of the biggest keys to the way successful brands approach customer obsession is they don’t only focus on what happens before the sale. They are also deeply concerned with what happens after it. Continue providing customers service and value.

Create a Culture of Customer Obsession

Typically great customer service and experiences come from the top down in an organization. So make yours completely focused on engaging in the total customer experience. Brands like Zappos have become known for their customer obsession.

Embrace Technology

There are so many tools out there that allow you to not only get tons of high level quality data about your customers, but also that can help you provide a much more streamlined and personal service for them. Be sure to use it.

Foster Trust and Transparency

So much of the psychology of buying has to do with a customer that feels like they trust and have made an emotional connect with the brand. Embrace an open and honest culture with your customers through both your content and your actions.

Go Above and Beyond

There are times when simply going above and beyond the general expectations can really wow a customer and endear your brand to them for life. Surprise and delight them with something that will really knock their socks off and build their loyalty.

For some forward thinking brands and marketers customer obsession is the name of the game and likely to be that way for a long time.

As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said:

We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.

Take that approach and bring it into your own brand.

When you deeply focus on making your customer experience the very best it can be, you’re only going to see a positive pay-off in the end, both from your many happy customers, and on the bottom line.

What are some of the customer obsession approaches your own team has taken? Have they worked?