POSTED : April 5, 2015
BY : Jake DiMare

At PK we look at everything we do through the lens of customer-centricity. We believe it’s a mindset that organizations need to have in approaching business and especially in approaching digital. Digital has fundamentally changed the relationship between people and brands, but it hasn’t changed human nature. We like to be valued. We like to be recognized. And we love to be surprised. In fact, research shows that our brain responds even more intensely to a pleasant experience when it’s unexpected.

Customer-centricity is like digital dopamine

They light up the pleasure centers in our brain and, over time, inspire love and loyalty. They spark connections that allow customers to know the humans behind a brand. Businesses can begin to tap into the power of customer-centricity by understanding who their customers are and how to be useful in their day-to-day lives, whether it’s a business problem they need to solve or an experience they want to build.

In user experience and design circles, the words “surprise and delight” are so ubiquitous that it’s easy to gloss right over them without thinking about what they really mean—or what’s involved in creating digital experiences that truly deliver on both.

The stories that get repeated often involve over-the-top stunts like delivering a Morton’s steak to a hungry entrepreneur on his layover at Newark or photographing a stuffed giraffe enjoying his extended stay at a Ritz-Carlton before returning it to the child who left it behind. But the day-to-day things that create delight are about removing friction and delivering convenience—making ordinary experiences easier, faster, and cooler than you ever imagined they could be.

They’re little things like not having to enter your credit card number because caller ID associated your phone number with your account. Being able to enter your password verbally rather than having to type in a number. Or capturing information across touch points, so you don’t have to enter the same thing again and again.

Companies that are loved sweat the small stuff (because the little things really aren’t so little)

Sometimes, customer-centricity comes from something as simple as delivering on a clearly understood promise—just doing what you say you’ll do. But this can be so uncommon that when a company actually does it, it comes as a pleasant surprise. We’re so accustomed to perfunctory messages and frustrating phone trees that we are truly knocked off-guard when we encounter real human kindness, humor or emotion.

By creating experiences that transcend the transaction and build a real human connection, you can do more than earn a sale. You can earn the kind of trust that builds long-term relationships based not on gimmicks or discounts, but on genuine value and meaning. And the benefits flow both ways. Companies that are loved make more money, retain people better, lower sales and marketing costs, earn more trust in their products, and grow faster.

In other words, companies that are loved, win

Great customer experience (CX) isn’t just about warm fuzzies. Temkin Group research shows that for many industries, better CX with a focus on customer-centricity delivers significant and quantifiable business impact. Forrester Research reports that companies founded on customer obsession can deliver millions in increased annual revenue and reduce lost revenue resulting from customer churn. But to achieve these potential benefits, Kerry Bodine of Forrester writes, companies must deliver digital interactions that meet their customers’ needs in easy and enjoyable ways.

A customer-obsessed culture helps you deliver high-quality, on-brand, consistent experiences that drive loyalty.


Companies that are loved are delightful by design

Delightful digital interactions based around customer-centricity don’t just happen. You have to start looking at the experience through the eyes of the customer rather than the way your org chart works. (And you may need to change your org chart.) It takes leadership. It takes getting politics out of the way. And it takes an overarching CX strategy that the entire organization buys in to, with meaningful collaboration and alignment among teams.

As a practical matter, you need platforms and communication to connect the technology layers. How many times have you called a company and slogged your way through a phone tree and then had to repeat all the information you just entered? Or received a cheerful email from your favorite airline, only to encounter not-so-cheerful service on your flight?

That’s because systems and teams are disconnected. Sales, marketing and support data don’t “talk to each other.” Your flight attendant has no idea what the marketing team has promised. If you can connect those systems it makes for a much better customer experience and enables the people on the front lines to deliver meaningful service.

We’re all in this together

If you truly want to be loved by your customers, you have to be loved by your team. Because when people feel valued, respected and empowered they’re motivated to go the extra mile for customers. Enabling employees creates a virtuous circle that earns compounding interest on your customer experience investment. That doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen with a marketing campaign. It’s real, substantive change.People are sometimes reluctant to invest in better customer experience because they perceive it as too expensive or risky. But you don’t have to choose between great customer experience and running a great, profitable business. The real bottom line?

What’s good for your customers is good for your business

Winning is about having a customer-centric vision and driving more value, having a more durable asset, and growing the company. Companies that commit to building great experiences and relationships sustained over a long period of time are the ones in the long term that are going to see better results.