Ingredients of customer centricity: Extreme Customer Obsession

We are in the midst of a Copernican Revolution. Businesses that revolve around their customers outperform and outlast brands that believe their customers ought to revolve around them. The Copernican Revolution of the 21st century is that of Customer Centricity. Three core ingredients will help an organization become more customer-centric.

  1. Extreme Customer Obsession
  2. Extreme Speed
  3. Extreme Creativity

This post explores the first ingredient, Extreme Customer Obsession. The word ‘Obsession’ so easily lends itself to (potentially) unhealthy connotations. Rest assured, that’s not how we mean it. When we talk about Extreme Customer Obsession, we mean having a (healthy!) enthusiasm and passion for your customers. And to cultivate an understanding, and to act on that understanding in ways that will surprise and delight them.

Why is an Extreme Customer Obsession necessary? Well, for starters, consumers are only consumers for a small part of the day. The rest of the day they are parents, children, employers, employees, artists, critics, gamers, trainers, and the like. Surely then follows that despite being consumers for a few moments a day, the needs in these moments vary within the context of our multiple roles. In other words, a healthy dose of customer obsession can help you become more relevant and meaningful in the lives of your consumers, well beyond the traditional boundaries of your category.

Our extensive work in the Customer Experience field for a multitude of brands across several categories, verticals, industries and sectors has allowed us to create and define what we call the ‘Consumer Centricity Model’. This model highlights three important layers from both a consumer and an organizational perspective. Furthermore, it seeks to address the question of not only how to better understand your consumer, but how to best deliver on that understanding.

Let’s check out some practical examples. To do so, we will focus on the first layer of the Consumer Centricity Model (download the free Customer Experience Revolution bookzine for more on the other layers):

Moments vs Touchpoints:

The first layer of the Consumer Centricity Model is all about identifying the customer’s moments of truth, which touchpoints (whether these exist or still have to be created) align to these moments and, most importantly, understanding the underlying customer needs in those moments. We identify these by thoroughly mapping the customer journey.

A journey map is essential. Too many organizations spend a lot of time, money and energy on improving existing touchpoints, without having a clear indication or understanding of their customer’s real moments of truth. Too many companies have this blind spot and focus too much on potentially irrelevant touchpoints. Don’t put the cart before the horse! First define the moments of truth and then develop the relevant touchpoint, not the other way around.

This ‘map before you act’ approach is also what helped classifieds website Gumtree grow within the automotive vertical. A community was set up to identify opportunities to get more consumers on the Gumtree platform when they’re looking for a second-hand vehicle. The result was a used-car-buying journey map, based on consumer stories and experiences collected through the Gumtree research community. A key observation was the fact that consumers cited early on that they feel insecure about the purchasing journey. The journey map thoroughly illuminated the customers’ concerns and enabled Gumtree to break the mold by adding value beyond their core value proposition of simply connecting buyer to sellers. Gumtree started supporting its customers by instilling a sense of confidence and security, and subsequently managed to grow their market share within the automotive vertical.

A first layer

An Extreme Customer Obsession can lead you to garner a better understanding of your customers, capturing their moments of truth, and infinitely more importantly, of how to engage with them in these moments of relevance. It can further highlight how your customers interact with your brand, leading to more opportunities to diversify your approach in surprising and delighting them. But it’s simply the first layer, the first step, the start of your journey to becoming more customer-centric.

In our upcoming posts we focus on Extreme Speed and Extreme Creativity, to take these theoretical learnings forward with practical implementation.

The Customer Journey Revolution

Create truly authentic and sustainable customer-centered experiences. How do you disrupt category conventions? How do you keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ wants and needs? How do I use my existing resources to build a relevant and authentic customer experience?

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