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How Customer Centricity Can Accelerate Your Commercial Growth

By Special Guest
Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine
July 23, 2015

Customer service is the foundation upon which successful businesses are built. Customer wants and needs are constantly evolving, and great technology alone is not enough to keep them satisfied. Good technology must be complemented by brilliant customer service – ensuring buyers stay happy and loyal in a fickle market.

A study by Gartner concludes that customer experience has become increasingly important in today’s marketplace, with the best businesses adapting accordingly.

This poses a challenge to businesses with limited resources: how can companies focus on maintaining high customer satisfaction without neglecting other contributors to long-term organisational success?

Constant Innovation

We all lead busy lives. As consumers of technology, ease of use and simplicity are crucial. In recent years, customers’ ways of interacting with, and buying from, companies have changed radically. In light of this, it’s essential that businesses offer the latest (or at least best) customer service technologies. Make it easy and convenient for customers to interact with you.

Companies must constantly interrogate their product roadmap too, asking whether it’s as current or as innovative as it could be. And it’s critical they make room for experimentation – R&D is a vital investment. Asking willing customers to engage in “Alpha” projects is also a great way to involve the customer, making them feel appreciated while also collecting invaluable feedback.  

The process of customer-centric innovation is an ongoing one. At no point should your business sit still if you are to provide the most up-to-date offering to your customers. You should make a conscious effort to keep customers in the loop on company or industry-wide updates via newsletters, blogs and social media channels. This shows that as a company you are at the forefront of technology innovation, and crucially, that you care about what your customers think.

Team of Experts

A business cannot offer a high quality of service to clients if it does not have appropriately skilled and highly motivated staff. It’s a fact. But with the right infrastructure, excellent resources and skilled people, customer service can flourish.

This can only happen if there’s an extensive and structured training programme in place. Your employees must be experts in their field. Training programmes should not only be available as part of an onboarding process for new starters, but should be ongoing to foster the most up-to-date and relevant knowledge for staff in the long term.

Business success takes time – it’s a long game, and you should view improving employee performance in the same way. With frequent training sessions on a variety of topics (old and new), employees can learn new skills and knowledge-sets while also building on existing ones. This will empower them to deliver world-class customer experiences throughout their time with you.

From a customer perspective, easy access to your teams is a crucial component of superb customer service. Each customer is unique and will want to make contact at different times of the day, using different forms of communication and presenting a number of different needs. Serving people through multiple channels (i.e. live chat, phone, tickets) ensures they can contact teams in the way they’re most comfortable with. Making customer service available 24 hours a day, every day of the year is vital in today’s always on society.

Employee Engagement

Employees that feel valued deliver better customer service. To this end, employee engagement initiatives are key.

Traditional methods like free parking and complimentary lunches, alongside newer ideas such as a ‘high-five wall’ showcasing great work and other employee recognition initiatives can be highly effective. Above all, it’s important that you work out the engagement initiatives that are right for you.

It’s also critical that customer service is ingrained within your company culture – across all departments and at all levels of the business. Customer service should remain a common thread from the hiring stage, through to training and development, and beyond. At WP Engine we use the term “customer inspired” to describe our commitment to putting the customer first in all that we do.

Put simply, satisfied employees mean satisfied customers – and long-term business success.

Listen and Learn to Build Trust

In order to learn from past mistakes – or successes – it is essential to listen to the customer and use their feedback to inform both your long and short-term business decisions. Many organizations focus on learning from negative feedback. While this is important, it is also helpful to learn what customers like, replicating these insights across your business.

Having systems in place to track customer responses can give your business the insight it needs to grow and improve in opportune areas. This can be through informal conversations with colleagues or more formally through tracking and ticketing systems.

Customers know when you’ve listened to them and incorporated their feedback. Genuine consideration of customer viewpoints earns trust and keeps people coming back in the long term. Trust is the most important element of customer loyalty, and companies can earn it by being credible and honest.

Keeping the Customer Central

It’s all too easy to have a casual approach to customer service, touching on some of the points above without allowing the customer experience to truly shape and define company culture. But putting the customer at the center of your mission, vision and values – and ensuring that these principles translate into operational practice – will lead to long-term benefits.

The customer should be at the heart of your business. Keep this as a guiding principle at all times and you can be sure of heading in the right direction.

About the Author: Heather Brunner is CEO of WP Engine, a leading SaaS content management platform for websites and applications built on WordPress. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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