Customer centricity is one of those “buzzwords du jour”.
Everyone wants to put the customer at the center of their business, but I’m not so sure most SaaS (Software as a Service) companies have any idea what this actually means.
Casting about for examples, we might think of Amazon, a company whose brand has become virtually synonymous with top-notch customer experience.
So how does Amazon consistently deliver a truly customer-centric user experience?
Well, by having a CEO who’s made it his mission to create a culture of customer centricity.
But what do you don’t have Jeff Bezos for a CEO?
Maybe your higher-ups talk a big game about customer centricity, but when it comes to implementing customer-centric policy, they haven’t the faintest clue how to execute.
What’s a little old customer-facing employee like you to do in such a scenario?
Moving the Customer to the Center
To develop a customer-centric company, you have to adopt a mindset which moves the customer to the center (duh) of every element, not just your customer support department.
The trouble is, most SaaS companies have limited resources, and are stuck trying to hold it all together by a shoestring. When you’re a skeleton crew running on a bare bones budget, you're going to miss a few critical things.
One of those is the customer’s voice.
When the folks over at Fullstory recognized they were struggling to hear their customers, they created the ‘Hugger’ to bring the customer back to the center.
‘Hugger' sounds a bit squishy. I prefer something a bit more dynamic like ‘change agent’. In the most basic sense, a change agent is someone who weaves their way through every level of an organization to effect systemic, cultural change.
That’s where you come in.
How to Become a Customer Success Change Agent
Even if you’re the only customer-facing employee on your team, you can be the customer-centric change you want to see at work (sorry, Gandhi).
But what does it take to become the hero who effectively brings the customer to the center of your organization?
Here are three simple steps you can take to start moving in that direction:
1. Become an Advocate for the Customer
If your customer is going to have a voice in the business, you have to be his or her mouthpiece. When it comes to product development, especially, you've got to be in your product manager’s ear, sharing customer concerns every step of the way so that decisions are made from the customer’s perspective, not just the developer’s.
2. Facilitate Interdepartmental Conversation
The biggest challenge to customer centricity is the functional siloing of one department from the other. As a customer-centric change agent, you can bridge the gap here.
One way of doing that was already hinted at above in step #1. Another way is to interface regularly with marketing, sales and technical support. By connecting the various departments, you can build a cohesive vision focused on the customer.
3. Build Relationships with Your Customers
This isn’t exactly mind-blowing advice, but it’ll go a long way towards changing your company’s culture from the inside out. Even if you don’t have the words in your title, do the work of a customer success professional by getting to know your customers and helping them make the absolute most of your products.
In today's marketplace, basic customer support just won’t cut it.
In this brief post, I’ve presented a few ways to transform your company culture from the inside out. For some, this will be a heavier lift than for others. Stick with it.
Over time, your small cadre of uber-satisfied customers will speak volumes about the value of customer-centricity in your organization.
Customers will notice, and things will change.