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Putting Customers at the Center of Business

Putting Customers at the Center of Business

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Do companies really gain competitive advantage by putting customers at the center?

 

I thought for my first team blog entry I would take a stab at sharing a question CRM Product Planning has been thinking about for a while and would love your thoughts and examples.  What separates a good sales team from a great sales team?  A good marketing team from a great one?  A good customer service center from a great one?  And finally are there any companies out there who have achieved the dream of putting customers at the center of everything they do?

 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the above.   The more detail the better. J

 

Kari Hensien

  • I meant what I said about wanting to hear your thoughts - in detail.  If you have a specific customer in mind or don’t feel like posting a comment publicly, please feel free to email me directly  - mailto:khensien@REMOVEmicrosoft.com.

    - Kari
  • I can usually just go down the hall and tell Kari what I think but it looks like she's out for the weekend so I'll just broadcast.

    There's long been a notion of the customer centric business, I talk about this a lot when describing CRM as an application that is applicable to a broad range of service businesses (that is,using CRM as the line of business app for any business will automatically put customers at the center of the business).

    But I think that there is another way to think about best practices and excellence. And I think about this in terms of how we measure excellence in our work: what the metrics are that use to determine if we're successful. Traditionally, the customer focused business set "customer satisfaction" goals and surveyed customers on how they answered questionnaires. This is okay but it doesn't measure the more important thing for a business or association: customer loyalty.

    Say, for example, that you purchase a widget, you pull it out of the package and find that it wasn't put together well and that it breaks shortly after. You call the support department and work with a very friendly CSR who gives you great help and eventually helps you fix the widget. You receive a survey asking you about your service. It was great, you say. The widget then breaks down again. Are you a satisified customer? Hardly.

    There is some more subtlety to this but the fact remains that a high level of customer satisfaction, as measured, doesn't guarantee success. What guarantees success is customer loyalty. I posit that measures of customer <i>behavior</i>: return business, referals, increased business over time are far more indicative of business health than customer satisfaction.

    To go a step further than this: by making those customer behavior measures the metrics that you drive you will end up with great customer satisfaction but you'll also end up with something far more valuable: customer loyalty.

    So what makes a great business? A business that focuses on its customers' behaviors and that drives its own employees to increase the customer behaviors that are indicative of customer loyalty.

    Barry
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