Year of the Customer–2014: Think Customer– Shift Business Culture, Focus, Ideas, Skills… to Better Engage Customers…

Year of the Customer–2014: Kick off the New Year with a positive attitude and focus on customers; and your business is sure to see growth throughout the year…

According to Jacob Becker; there’s one thing you can do in 2014, which is guaranteed to help your business: Focus on the customer. It’s the customer that is the life blood of the business. More important– challenge tradition: Re-think customer value in the new experience economy…

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and we are now able to serve customers better and more quickly than ever before. But engaging customers today and meeting their higher expectations requires commitment from the entire company– and a redefined customer engagement strategy… Customer focus is a skill; treat customers with kindness and respect, and your actions will inspire others to do the same. Small gestures mean a lot to customers– they will take note and spread the word.

Take a minute to think outside the box and find different ways that will make the customers feel valued… If you aren’t able to help a customer, point them in the right direction… Your employees are the front line to your customers; hire people who believe in your business values, people who fit in your business culture, people who care about customers…

Treat your employees how you want them to treat customers and it will become a natural fit to your ‘brand’… Look at customer complaints as an opportunity for growth; be open and listen to their problem, address it and learn from the experience… Key to customer focus is providing a positive experience, such that they enjoy the interaction enough to keep returning with future business…

According to Josh Denomey; customers are the center of any business, make sure they are taken care of and are completely satisfied with your product or service. If they are not, make sure you ask for feedback! Direct feedback is the best way to improve your business!

priority imagesCAQJWGI3

In the article Customer Experience Buyback by Marcio Rodrigues writes: Too many organizations ‘talk’ about customer experience without actually ‘doing’ enough to demonstrate that they really care about customers– transforming themselves for the benefit of customers… we need more organizations to start ‘doing’ more in 2014… I conducted some independent research on ‘what customers really want’ and they say: If business around the world focus more on ‘doing’ things we want and less of the things that irritate us, then 2014 will be a year that we (customers) may start to get some trust and confidence back that business really cares!

Two key statistics really resonated: 1.) The majority of people worldwide wouldn’t care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow…  2.) 52% of the fortune 500 firms since 2000 have disappeared… Is your business relevant to customers? The reality is that people are busy with their day jobs and mostly don’t have the time to look at what’s out there. So, my suggestions for 2014: Embrace customer-focus change, and do it quickly…

Take note: Optimizing existing customer experiences may not be enough; off-the-shelf customer experience solutions will only get you so far. It’s time to move beyond optimizing what you have and focus on reinventing customers experience…

priority imagesCA1OA432

In the article Business 2014: The Customer by Chloe Rigby writes: The most prominent mind shift has begun and it will continue in 2014; it’s a focus on the customer journey and adopting a ‘customer-first’ strategy. At a time when customer demands are higher than ever and loyalty is at an all-time low, businesses need to get smart about how they interact with each individual customer. The majority of traditional businesses accept they can no longer live in silos; they must optimize the customer experience.

A business can’t delineate where a customer journey starts and stops – it should be a seamless experience where the customer chooses at their discretion, which business channel(s) to engage… According to Pat Phelan; in order to convert customer interactions into sales, it’s important to note that the customer experience hinges on much more than the cost of a product. Instead, it has never been more important to take into account the usability of customer touch points, channel integration in order to portray a clear brand message, and deals and recommendations tailored to each customer…

According to Rakuten Marketing; while targeting customers over multiple channels– brands need to have a complete picture of their customers. The use of big data to target the customer base will grow in this year so that brands can change the way they engage with customers, as individuals. Everything from acquiring customers to re-engagement with dormant customers and existing active customers will mean that brands can plan how to market to different individuals based on real insight and employ a highly targeted approach…

According to Jon Stanesby; personalization is the weapon of choice for many businesses, as marketers realize the importance of understanding a customer’s– likes, dislikes and past behavior in order to build effective relationships. Responding to the needs of individual customers must not rely solely on the amount of data captured, but rather how carefully chosen information is harnessed, used. The most successful businesses are not those who collected the most data, but rather the ones who collect the right data and used it most effectively…

In the article Customer Engagement Top Priority 2014 by Jim Tierney writes: Customer engagement is the No. 1 priority for companies in 2014, according to Bluewolf’s annual survey… Bluewolf’s surveyed more than 450 business and technology leaders in North America, Europe, and Australia. The respondents were employees in very large enterprises (more than 1,000 employees), large enterprises (up to 1,000 employees), and medium to small enterprises (fewer than 500 employees).

The study was conducted via online survey from August to October 2013. Data collection and analysis was done in collaboration with the MIT Sloan School of Management… According to the report; customer engagement is the new bottom line– 60% of customers ranked customer engagement as top priority… According to the report; every employee must be empowered to recognize and embrace a customer engagement opportunity, and act on it at any touch point. In the new customer engagement economy, no longer is just one department responsible for serving the customer; the customer experience is now at the forefront of business strategy…

According to Eric Berridge; customer-obsessed organizations are winning– and they have a more flexible customer engagement solutions, e.g., using cloud technology… that reach into all parts of the business… these businesses have potential to double revenue as they double customer engagement…

aa customer2

Personalization and customization will continue to be extremely important consideration across both digital and physical customer touch points. Customers are very savvy and want to be informed: the challenge for business is to provide appropriate information at the relevant moment in the life-cycle… The ability to provide a tailored customer experience is a key competitive differentiator this year and is facilitated by large amounts of customer data which businesses have at their fingertips.

By analyzing this data businesses are able to better understand their customers, and evolve and improve their services such that they can best meet their needs. By synchronizing databases across all touch points, businesses are able to create an ecosystem where the data-set is accurate and up to date and customer information is easily accessible at all times across channels and provides a unified view of each individual customer… According to Angela Evennett; stay engaged with customers is the most vital component of the business… Staying engaged allows you to constantly be in tune with their wants, needs and preferences. Social media are an excellent way to do this…

What are your company’s highest priorities for 2014? They should be things that really matter… things that make a difference… things that make a big impact on the customers… things that improve the business and achieve success… However, organizations must be selective and focus on just a few high priority activities– those that are the life-blood and growth engine for the organization…

Priorities = Success: Employees, managers are often overwhelmed by the huge wave of tasks and objectives that need to be done, and people usually operate under the assumption that whoever is screaming the loudest gets the highest priority. But in reality, the person screaming the loudest may not really be the most important to the organization’s overall success…

According to Michael Stallard; a mistake many leaders make is being overly ambitious in setting annual priorities. Going beyond five annual priorities diminishes focus and jeopardizes effective execution by tending to overwhelm those responsible for implementation. Neuroscientists have discovered that when people feel overwhelmed, brain function shifts from the frontal lobes of the brain, where rational decisions are made, to the mid-brain region, where rash decisions are more likely. Here are five actions you can take to achieve focus for your organization and maximize the probability of achieving excellence in execution:

  • Set Your Top Five: As the leader, set no more than five challenging-achievable annual priorities for your team… Ask each direct report to prepare their five challenging-achievable priorities…
  • Communicate Your Top Five: Share the Top Five with your team, including the      rationale for each…
  • Align Your Top Five: Compare and align your top five priorities with the direct reports’ top five priorities… Talk through the direct reports’ priorities together to identify those that will advance the organization and fit the individual employee’s interests and strengths. While you may not find a perfect set of priorities… make the effort to find the best possible set of priorities that improves the overall organization…
  • Track Your Top Five: One day each week, write down under each of the top five priorities what you and team have accomplished, highlighting the new information to distinguish it from earlier entries. Then examine the plans for the week ahead to make certain they are aligned with the top five. Share the cumulative updated list each week with the team… At the end of the year, you will have a detailed record of what you and team accomplished…
  • Review Your Top Five: At the beginning of each quarter, review the top five. On occasion, circumstances may require you to add a new priority and postpone or eliminate others… Periodically, by reviewing the top five it helps make certain that you and team are aligned with the organization’s objectives…

Bottom-line: When you: Set your Top Five; Communicate your Top Five; Align your Top Five; Track your Top Five; Review your Top Five… It creates greater focus and maximizes excellence in execution…