Yet here we are in 2021, and most consumer-facing businesses still look at ‘the cost to serve customers’ rather than the benefit. The cause and effect of this being that businesses under-invest in people, systems/technology and processes required to deliver the experience that customers seek. This in turn leads to a downturn in sales, profitability and market share and can very easily lead to the demise of a business.
If we look at any business that’s gone bust in the past 20 years, you can pretty much always tie it back to a lack of customer centricity: Selling the wrong products or services, not understanding who customers are, not delivering the experience and convenience they seek, having too much focus on the wrong channels, investing in acquisition and not retention and not looking after their own people in the first place.
Despite this, and as demonstrated in my book, The Power of Customer Experience, there is a direct correlation between brands that are customer centric and their commercial performance over a sustained period of time, compared to those who are not.
Of course, these days, there are several other hugely important building blocks that are drivers of customer centricity. These include diversity, social responsibility, sustainability and brand purpose.
Last but not least is the requirement to measure what really matters. We obsess with reporting on performance: Sales, profit, traffic, footfall, conversion rates, average order values, dwell time and so on. When these are all outputs, they do not provide any insight whatsoever. Whereby customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promote scores (NPS), customer feedback, customer issues recorded at the call centre and so on, tell us everything we need to know about why we’re performing the way we are. What’s working well and what’s not, and why.
I wrote my book, The Power of Customer Experience, to provide businesses with a framework that they could use to transform their business to truly put the customer at the heart of all they do. I have never seen anything else that describes how you achieve this end-to-end across a business. So, I created it. The Mini-MBA is an extension of this where people can learn all about the framework and, more importantly, how to turn it into a plan of action. How to create and implement a plan to transform any business of any shape and size into one that is truly customer centric.
The ultimate goal for any brand has to be how to turn customers into fans as that’s what drives the frequency of purchase and customer lifetime value. Customer centric businesses can deepen both the emotional and rational attachment to the brand. The former often driven by purpose, values and culture, the latter by a great product, customer service and experience.
An example of a brand that has fans as opposed to customers is Tesla. They have democratised the whole car buying experience as well as being the innovators and clear market leader in the electric car space. They enable customers to buy cars in shopping centres. They don’t have pushy car salesmen. They are now one of the most valuable brands in the world, with a market cap more than three times that of Ford, VF and GM put together!
Whether you’re cutting keys and re-heeling shoes like Timpson, selling Chocolates like Hotel Chocolat or selling outdoor clothing and accessories, which Patagonia does with aplomb, these businesses and others like them are commercially successful year after year after year because they are truly customer centric. That is their most significant differentiator.
Just as my book is, the course is packed full of case studies of brands who do this well, the what, the why and the how of customer centricity. And, of course, the commercial impact of doing so.
The Mini-MBA modules:
This course will appeal to a range of different people, from senior management who want a plan for transitioning the business they work for to founders and entrepreneurs looking to take the business to the next level. It will also appeal to anyone looking to have more ownership of the customer experience in their careers.