Published On: September 5, 2022|Categories: News|

In the past, customers judged the value of a product or service based on two things; price and quality. Today’s customers, however, have an expanded concept of value that includes; the convenience of purchase, dependability and after-sale service. One might therefore assume that organizations should meet all these customer expectations to beat competition. Notwithstanding, this isn’t always the case. Companies that have taken the lead in their industries over the last decade have typically done so by narrowing their business focus, not broadening it. They have done so by;

  • Redefining value for customers in their respective markets.
  • Building powerful and cohesive business systems that deliver more of that value compared to their competitors.
  • Boosting the level of value that customers expect.

Dr. Rita Okuthe joined MBA students from IESE Business School for the ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Programme, where she engaged them on the need for ‘customer obsession’ in driving the success of any business. “Customer-centered organizations are indeed the most successful organizations. In any business that you are involved in, customer intimacy should be part of your strategy,” Dr. Okuthe emphasized.

The Doing Business in Africa Programme is designed by Strathmore University Business School in partnership with IESE Business School, Spain. The Programme aims to expose the IESE MBA students to business operations in Africa and by extension, doing business the African way. The Programme comprises weeklong sessions with faculty members from both Schools and gives MBA students from both Schools a chance to interact and understand the different aspects of business in the continent through case studies and experiential learning.

Changing a company’s nature and culture isn’t cheap, nor is it easy. However, customer intimacy can create a more sustainable and profitable model for some. This isn’t just about taking a proactive approach with customers but  targeting a specific subset of customers whose desires you know you can meet. By gaining insight into the specific wants and needs of your customers, you are better able to meet and even exceed them. Additionally, it enables you to build strong and personal relationships with your customers, which consequently engenders customer loyalty.

Organizations that excel in customer intimacy combine detailed customer knowledge with operational flexibility so that they can respond quickly to almost any need, from customizing a product to fulfilling special requests. They also engage everyone at every level to be successful in implementing this strategy. This article highlights different customer intimacy strategies you can employ to drive change within your organization.

“All Hands on Deck” Customer Service

“If you are the CEO of a company and you spend more time in the corner office than in the field, you’ll have a problem in the long run,” Dr. Okuthe highlighted. Having everyone at every level of your company provide customer service is a big part of the customer intimacy strategy. This means involvement from top-level executives such as the CEO and VP to interns. “There should be a mandatory customer day where the senior management team goes to the front-facing desk at least once a month,” she further emphasized. This strategy enables every employee to listen and respond to customers.

Be a “Customer-First” Organization

If you want to survive in the ever-changing landscape of modern businesses, putting your customers at the very centre of your company culture is the key to long-term success. Start by asking yourself; “Why is my business here?” If the answer to that question is anything “product-related”, go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your entire business strategy. As your business grows, it’s very easy to lose touch with those who helped you gain success- your customers. Amazon is the company it is today because they put the customer at the centre of everything they do- from discussing the customer in every staff meeting to building specialized customer feedback tools to improve their overall sentiment.

Understand the Customer Journey

Ensure the customer journey is simple. One of the main challenges companies face in improving customer intimacy is understanding the stages a customer goes through with a product or service. Once you’ve understood the journey a customer goes through in purchasing your product, create a journey map that is simple and easy to use. This helps foster long-term relationships with your consumers. Additionally, learning to anticipate client needs will allow you to recognize a pattern and deliver tailor-made products and services.

Use Data Effectively to Make the Right Moves

Learn as much as you can about your customers. Talk to them, visit them, gather feedback, and analyze their activity on your website. This raw information serves as an important way to build and improve customer intimacy. Using analytics in your customer intimacy strategy is essentially the core to boosting your business in a vastly competitive market. For example, something as simple as purchase history or most viewed pages can reveal patterns, interests and sentiments. The more focused your strategy becomes, the more customers will feel closer to your brand and get what they want when they least expect it.

Explore External Partnerships

Work with other companies to find a solution, if you believe it to be in the customer’s best interests. “If there’s a small start-up doing well in a particular field and could be your competitor in the future, buy or partner with them. Also, don’t try to control how they do things after absorbing them,” Dr. Okuthe emphasized. For example, Amazon sells products from other smaller retailers on its website. This enables it to offer a greater range of products than it could stock on its own, and consequently, customers don’t need to search for what they need from other e-Commerce websites.

Empower your Team Members

Provide your team with the tools, training and resources needed to give the customer exactly what they need and want. Inspire and encourage them to deliver an outstanding customer experience at every point of contact. Ensure you recruit people who share your commitment to customer intimacy. Everyone should be taught to recognize a customer’s lifetime value to the organization, rather than just looking for the next transaction. Additionally, boost your team’s engagement by recognizing and rewarding those who go the extra mile.

Host Customer Events

The most direct way to build customer intimacy is by meeting them in person. Coordinate and host events such as cocktails, brunches and dinners. These events offer an intimate and personal way to get to know your customers better and for them to meet the faces behind your brand.

When your business continues to grow, hosting customer events can become overwhelming, costly and time-consuming, but that shouldn’t stop you. Set up webinars featuring your customers discussing new features, feedback and stories on how they use your product or service. Additionally, encourage your customers to bring their friends or family to these events as they could be potential consumers.

About the MBA for Executives Programme

Our MBA for Executives Programme is best suited for individuals with at least 2 years of managerial experience and who are looking to broaden their knowledge and expertise. This Programme helps them develop their talent and harness competencies necessary for the next level by unlocking their inner potential to discover new horizons. We offer two modes of learning for the MBA for Executives Programme: Evening and Modular. Learn about the MBA for Executives Programme here. March and April 2023 Intake is ongoing! Apply  here

Article Michelle Nthemba

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