Carolyn Blunt1

Redefining Customer Centricity

Historically most businesses consider that if their product or service saves customers time, money or effort then then are on the right track for success. While this may have some truth to it, research shows that it’s not that simplistic.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article it was suggested that what customer’s value may be very different from what marketers perceive. Instead of just three elements of value such as cost, time saving or convenience, they identified as many as 30 different value elements. This highlights that if businesses aim to have a customer centric approach, they need to look beyond the obvious and rediscover what customers really value.

What to focus on?

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When you look at the 30 elements many of them seem obvious especially the functional elements that make up 14 of the 30 values. What may be harder to define for many businesses is the upper three levels that include emotional, life changing or social impact values.

As part of the study, researchers then looked to some of the most successful companies, leaders in various industries such as Apple or Amazon. Did they have all 30 values? Surprisingly not. However, what was characteristic was that they had a unique batch of values that they concentrated on which included almost all levels. More importantly these values reflected a synergy between their business and their customers.  The relevance also has a strong correlation to the target market demographics, culture and type of industry the business operates in.

Reflecting on these value elements can give companies an opportunity to better understand their customers and the meaning that they attach to a product or service. Owning the latest iphone may not just be about the functional technological advances offered in the new model, but also have an emotional badge value. There is also the sense of belonging to an elite group of people who have what could be perceived to be the best technology.

Why these values matter

Metrics that underscore business success and customer loyalty such as Net Promoter Score, market share and revenue growth appear to have a direct correlation to identifying and building on specific customer values. So what does this new definition of value look like in the contact centre? And what tools and technologies can be used to deliver on customer expectations in terms of these values?

T-Mobile is seen as market leader in Europe in terms of customer service and they have recently made large investments in AI technology in order to boost the customer service offerings. The reasons behind this touch on several values such as improved quality of service and better efficiency. The company provides a good example of how to use value elements as a basis for delivering better customer service.

Here are several key strategies that they implemented to support their contact centre in delivering better customer service.

Chatbots – Identifying that customers wanted access to information and service 24/7, T-Mobile “employed” 500 chat bots to attend to frequently asked queries using online Livechat. This strategy appeals to several values on multiple levels, it provides quality, variety, simplifies, saves time, reduces effort, avoids hassles, provides access and hope for customers. For T-mobile it’s also improving efficiency and saving money in the longer term.

Callback IVR – One of the frustrations for customers using contact centres is that if their query is not resolved first time round and they end up having to call back again, they often have to explain to agents all over again what their query is about. With T-mobile’s callback IVR, customer get the option of speak to the same consultant again and can simply pick up the conversation where they left off, rather than having to start all over again.

Active steering – As soon as a customer query is identified and email response is generated providing additional links to help resources which may include FAQ’s and videos. It also directs customers to the service page and community where they be able to find additional answers.

Search & SEO – By using Google campaigns, T-Mobile picks up on customer queries and directs them to a variety of resources, either the contact centre directly or other digital service channels. In this way they are providing customers with a direct link to information and resources and taking the hassle out of searching for answers.

Social media – T-mobile have a strategy of listening and reacting to what customers post online. Using technology to crawl social media, they identify key issues and are able to respond proactively thereby improving both customer service and loyalty.

With each of these offerings T-mobile appeals to different values for customers on a functional, emotional and social level and it certainly seems to be cementing customer loyalty. Their proactive approach to delivering on customer expectations is reinforcing their position as a market leader and many a contact centre can take a cue from them.

Carolyn Blunt is Managing Director of Ember Real Results, an organisation within the expert customer management consultancy Ember Group and that works with contact centres to improve performance through world-class training, coaching and learning.

Carolyn is co-author of the book ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ published by Wiley.  As an industry writer and speaker Carolyn was voted Most Respected Person in the UK Contact Centre Industry by readers of Call Centre Helper Magazine. Carolyn is an engaging and trusted speaker for ‘Customer Contact Expo’, ‘The Forum’ and ‘Call Centre Helper’.

Twitter: @carolynblunt @realresults101