I had the pleasure of speaking with M.Rauf Ates, founder of Fast Company Türkiye, about the research I helped lead with Harvard Business Review Analytical Services. In our conversation, we delved into the topic of becoming a customer-oriented company that goes beyond mere lip service. Our research offers 8 steps to give meaning to business, operational, and digital transformation, drawing insights from companies like Ethan Allen, Kellogg’s, Kimberley-Clark, and Pacific Life. You can find the translated version below, using Google Translate. If you notice any errors, please let me know! Original text and a downloadable PDF are also included.
Roadmap for leaders
Customer-oriented companies emphasize the importance of placing the customer at the center of the organization, which is commendable. Brian, one of the executives interviewed, monitors customer behavior and trends. He shared, “I reverse engineer their journeys, touchpoints, services, and products.” To start, we need to define customer experience. Customer experience refers to the total interactions a customer has with your company, how they perceive your brand at each stage, and how your brand stays in their minds. It encompasses all the steps that shape the overall customer experience. By adding the suffix ‘-nin eki’, we can shift our perspective to the customer’s experience (CX).
Companies that evolve with customers
Another perspective on this matter is that customer-oriented companies revolve around and transform with the customer. These companies have both empathy and a technological understanding of their customers. They are also prepared to serve customers when they are ready to participate. This means that companies need to place customer insights and engagement at the core of their organization. However, recent research sponsored by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) and conducted by Salesforce found that only 15 percent of companies worldwide have a single, 360-degree view of customer data and the organizational structure necessary to leverage those insights.
When I consider this, there are three elements to becoming a customer-integrated company:
1. Culture of Empathy: Recognize that the customers you are truly trying to reach are not just managers. Foster a culture of both empathy and digital empathy.
2. Culture of Insights: Transform into a data-driven organization that focuses on relevant 360-degree customer data and understands the customer through data-driven insights.
3. Culture of Participation and Interaction: As we found in our HBR research, CX consists of two aspects: insight and engagement. Organize customer touchpoints around insights and utilize both physical and digital engagement to provide personalized, relevant, integrated, and efficient experiences.
Roadmap to being customer-focused
Becoming customer-integrated is an ongoing, infinite process. The customer will continue to evolve, and so should we. Here are eight steps that can help you build a customer-engaged company where data, insights, and engagement deliver competitive customer experiences:
1. Listen to and observe your customers.
2. Establish standards for the end-to-end customer experience.
3. Create a framework for converting data into actionable insights that drive customer success.
4. Connect all the dots using technology powered by artificial intelligence.
5. Form a leadership committee responsible for customer experience and data integration to bring together 360-degree customer insights and engagement.
6. Determine which touchpoints are important, what needs to be fixed, and what is missing.
7. Develop the skills of all employees in the CX field.
8. Give each employee the autonomy to succeed in the eyes of your customers.
Becoming a successful customer company
In our collaboration with HBRAS, we focused on documenting the journey of a few companies towards becoming a 360-degree, customer-integrated company. These companies include Ethan Allen, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark Corp., and Pacific Life Insurance. In addition to surveying 1,100 executives, the report also features best practices implemented by those who should serve on the CX steering committee and a Customer Experience Excellence Checklist.