Magazine

From customer blah to customer business

At Livework we use customer blah as an all-encompassing term for customer related topics ranging from loyalty and retention to centricity and advocacy. Blah also reflects the behaviour of organisations that talk about, but fail to act on the importance of customers. Working with hundreds of clients we see time and time again that building a business with and for customers generates surprisingly high returns.

Businesses can win together with customers

Investing in customers does not mean major marketing campaigns, sacrificing margin in incentives, or perhaps most daunting of all, kicking-off a customer transformation programme. Changing the way businesses communicate, engage and service customers has more effect on commercial performance than introducing the next generation CRM system or providing staff with basic customer training. To win big with customers requires a customer focus in particular areas of the business. The challenge is, which ones?

Customer insights say more than CSI reports and big data trends

Having business success with customers starts with understanding their experiences, behaviours and expectations. Combining touchpoint and transactional data with customer interviews and pilot results sheds light on two important questions: What do customers really care about and when do they care enough to act. Insights in these areas enable a business to increase its relevance and adjust its timing in engaging customers.

Services dominate the customer experience

Most of what customers experience throughout the customer lifecycle is based on service. In mature markets it’s not the failings of the product that makes people defect – it’s the experience at crucial stages, such as the moment of purchase, or early use, where expectations were not met. Offering good service at these crucial points can win customers that are less susceptible to offers from others.

Service communication is often missed

In complex services such as healthcare, financial services and insurance, services that inform, guide, advise and assist are crucial for customers. Even when the services are well designed, organisations don’t invest enough to communicate the existence of these services and assume that customers will find their way themselves. By actively communicating the existence, relevance and use of services, organisations can make their customers more self-sufficient.

Help and advice customers based on the most common use

Businesses often push for customers to have plenty of choice. Closer examination shows that people seldom perceive choice as a good thing. Clear recommendations and customised offers are appreciated in B2C and B2B because “you are the expert, give me what you know I want”. Offering the most used/common/popular setup – especially in complex and technical services – helps customers in the decision process and early use. This also enables the organisation to streamline its processes and systems and deal with the outliers – approximately 20 per cent of the customers – as variations.

Even if a product does solve every problem 94% of people abandon it because they find it difficult to use.

Align the organisation around specific customer interactions

In large and complex organisations such as banking, government and logistics, governing alignment between silos, processes and systems creates another level of complexity. The key customer interactions and underlying transactions are very obvious when looking at the organisation based on what customers experience. Focusing on these specific experience points allows the organisation to simplify its customer engagement and align an organisations’ processes, systems and people around clear and shared goals.

Building a customer business requires focus, not just resources

Bringing the customer into the core of a business is less daunting when knowing the precise points of the customer engagement to intervene and support. Servicing customers, improving communication, default recommendations and facilitating key interaction can all make a big difference to the customer experience and business performance. The trick is to start with one or two interventions. That way the business can build on success and prevent frustrating the organisation with trying too much too soon.

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A second reading of McKinsey on Design
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Nudges aren’t the holy grail of behaviour change
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