Customer-centricity is at the core of every successful company operating today. Providing value to the customer goes beyond merely delivering solutions. In the age of social media, true value comes from aligning your solutions with the customer’s needs & values.
The central edict of customer-centricity is developing a company-wide customer intimacy audit. HBR defines customer intimacy as segmenting and targeting markets precisely and then tailoring offerings to match exactly the demands of those niches.
This involves cultivating a shared understanding of customer needs and problems among all team members. By combining detailed customer knowledge with operational flexibility, companies can quickly respond to almost any need, from the customer.
Here are five strategies you can adopt to boost your customer intimacy initiatives.
Set-up Customer Advisory Boards (CAB)
A CAB comprising of senior management from your company should act as a go-to–point for your most valued customers.
This board provides insights and guidance on the latest industry trends and delivers actions points to survive an unforeseen crisis like the ongoing pandemic.
A great example of this is Wells Fargo’s Stakeholder Advisory Council comprising of members from senior management and even the Board of Directors.
The CAB makes the company leadership accessible to customers and goes a long way in establishing trust and nurturing customer intimacy.
Continuous Customer Engagement
Customer engagement doesn’t stop after onboarding. It also doesn’t just pick up whenever there is a challenge. Instead, it should be one of ongoing importance.
Continuous engagement is vital in the subscription economy where customers are at liberty to cancel and move on to another service provider.
Organize periodic review meeting with your customer and have representation from your marketing, growth, and sales teams in these meetings. Touching base with them like this ensure that the engagement does not go out of alignment and will help quickly rectify any miscommunications.
Software companies that pursue ongoing customer development achieve 30% more annual revenue growth.
Leave a Chair for Your Customer
Tech giant Amazon is famous for its customer service with CEO Jeff Bezos even going so far as to say “Start with the customer and work backwards.”
This motto is shown in practice with their empty chair approach. In every meeting, they leave one empty chair that represents the customer.
As insignificant as this gesture sounds, it is very crucial to Amazon’s success. Keep your customer at the heart of every discussion. This is often challenging, as profit is the key driver in most company meetings. But with the empty chair, it becomes impossible to ignore the customer.
Organize Customer Meetups
While COVID may have driven all meetings to the virtual arena, it is still essential to meet them face-to-face to cultivate intimacy. While continuous engagement sessions are a regular occurrence, meetups can be once in a quarter or so event according to your budget.
This provides customers with the chance to mingle with product experts and reassures them that they’re in good hands.
Some companies make these meetups more informal by hosting brunches, fitness classes, barbeques, etc. The success of these will depend on your business relationship; however, they are still excellent ways to develop intimacy.
Meetups are also a great opportunity for your team members to mingle with the people who end up using their products, which is great for developing a sense of empathy for their needs.
Walk in your Customer’s Shoes
Unless your employees empathize with your customer’s requirements, your customer engagement rates will be on the lower side. Engagement is a two-way street. Apart from your customer reaching out to you, you should also encourage your employees to reach out proactively.
This can only happen if they walk a mile in the customer’s shoes to gain an understanding of the issues they are facing. Most of the highly successful products have evolved from empathetic innovation.
Take the example of Microsoft’s Seeing AI, a free app for iOS that uses a phone’s camera to recognize objects and describes them for visually challenged users. Microsoft Learning Tools platform is another example that helps dyslexic people with their reading comprehension.
Skills for Success: Customer Intimacy & Empathy
40% of surveyed enterprises do not have a full understanding of Customer Intimacy skills.
Understanding Customer intimacy and the skills and competencies associated with it is very crucial, especially in the COVID & post-COVID era, when customer intimacy is becoming a key competency to maintain & expand the customer base.
At the core of this is creating a culture of customer intimacy. Empathy is a very crucial competency that many organizations are working very hard to develop. There are also several technical skills and products gaining momentum in this area.
Join, Vijay Swaminathan, CEO & Co-Founder of Draup for a 50-minute interactive session where he will attempt to break down both hard skills and soft competencies associated with customer intimacy.
Participants can expect:
- to gain an understanding of Customer Intimacy and Empathy as a catalyst for business growth
- to identify both hard skills and soft competencies associated with Customer Intimacy
- to learn how to cultivate your culture and empower your employees to feel customer needs and act accordingly