Posted on 26/02/2020 by Breeanna Noske
An assessment of customer-centricity practices and the need to “get back to basics”.
Today’s business world is a more competitive market than ever before. With more and more organisations, sole-traders, entrepreneurs, franchises, and workers entering the market each day, a consumer’s choice is expanding exponentially when it comes to the obtaining of both products and services. Plus, the ease and accessibility to marketing and digital media means consumers are bombarded with advertising daily.
And so, in an effort to stand out from the crowd and to obtain business, companies are having to generate a point of difference. And the general consensus is that good quality customer service and a solid product/service is no longer enough to beat out the competition. No longer are you just solving a consumer’s problem by providing a product or service. Now you must solve your customer’s problem PLUS offer a free set of steak knives.
Discounts. Loyalty programs. Free gifts. Service add-ons. Free trials. Most of the time these initiatives simply improve the customer experience and encourage return business or company loyalty. However, as these practices become more common place, we are witnessing businesses continually attempt to “one-up” both their competitors and themselves in an attempt to win over customers. But at what cost?
What was once new, exciting, fresh and innovative to a customer will soon become the norm. An expectation. Have they seen it before? If so, it no longer generates excitement and awe. Is it worth chasing that customer response by working to innovate and continually offer customers more and more? Are we losing site of our customers’ needs, wants and desires?
We recently saw an example of a B2B organisation offering to spend a full day on site shadowing their clients to obtain a deep insight into the organisation prior to commencing their service. It is this kind of add-on or additional service that we tend to question, for its sustainability, its feasibility, and its effectiveness.
Members of our team were lucky to hear Gus Balbontin speak at the most recent RCSA Conference. Gus discussed the notion of an idea vs a customer problem. He warned us not to get too attached to an idea. If you generate an idea for a new service offering or business innovation, consider whether that idea presents the best possible solution to your customer’s problem. Because, as Gus puts it, “most of your ideas are sh*t!” (Read more here)
Fundamentally, customers want their problem solved. And they want it solved with the least amount of hassle and effort (Read more here). They don’t need a set of steak knives. And when excessive and constant innovation adds variety to an organisation, it can often result in overcomplication.
What we should be considering, instead, is a focus on our core services. Providing an outstanding product or service, with a smile, quickly and efficiently. We should focus on removing points of friction within our customers’ journeys and improving their experience rather than just focusing on creating additional ways to serve them.
And the benefit? This approach will turn out to be cheaper for your business and less taxing on your already hard-working employees.
This is, of course, not to discount business diversification. We’ve all heard the Kodak/Fujifilm case studies (If you haven't, read here). We ourselves commenced operations within a new and exciting field in the past 12 months, through the initiation of Entrée Training & Development (offering professional development workshops) to complement our recruitment services to both candidates and clients. But an effort to ensure that your innovation both meets customer demands and is incorporated into your existing service model, rather than adding on top of it, will ensure success.
We highly recommend the TED Talk by Rory Sutherland titled Sweat The Small Stuff (View here). Rory echoes these thoughts by suggesting a focus on the small details rather than large, expensive innovations and initiatives. We are currently advertising a newly created position here at Entrée Recruitment: Candidate Experience Manager. And the focus of this role will be improving upon the small stuff. The little extra add-ons that will enhance our candidates’ experience. Reviewing processes. Implementing additional customer service functions. And we believe these efforts will satisfy our candidates, without the need to completely reinvent the wheel, overhaul our business processes, or start offering a free set of steak knives with each job application. Perhaps we should take Rory Sutherland’s advice and re-name the role “Chief Detail Officer”.
What are your thoughts? Let us know your opinion on customer-centricity practices and the value of “one-upping” yourself and your competitors.