“You should be valuing people, and not assets,” says marketing guru and Kellogg School of Management’s Philip Kotler, who recently spoke at Melbourne’s World Marketing & Sales Forum.
Striving to create a positive customer experience should be one of your business’s core values. And if you can build a ‘customer first’ culture, spreading across your finance department to human resources to manufacturing, you have a greater chance of outperforming those companies that don’t, says Kotler.
Performance can be measured in different ways, but ultimately fostering this kind of culture will lead to more revenue growth, increased customer satisfaction and new product success.
There are seven constituents of a customer-based culture, which you should apply to your business strategy in order to develop a core value system for the future:
1. Customer insight
Do you understand the buying patterns and habits of your customers? Monitoring what the consumer does with your product after purchase can help you understand their level of satisfaction and allows you to respond effectively to their changing demands.
2. Customer foresight
Your company should be able to predict what customers will want in the future, by tracking changes in their spending behaviour. Are they about to switch to a new product or substitute yours with an offering from a competitor, and are you prepared for that change?
3. Competitor insight
Knowing how your competitors operate will give you the edge. Understand their strategies and objectives, essentially how they go about engaging with customers and converting leads, and seek ways to out-do their performance.
4. Competitor foresight
You and your team should have an instinct of where your competitors are moving. How are they responding and reacting to the market? This will help you spot trends as you work towards creating brand differences.
5. Peripheral vision
What’s going on in the wider world? You don’t want unfavourable trends to result in a fall in profitability. A successful customer-based culture must recognise the big forces – political, economic, societal, technological and environmental changes – that impact their business.
Banish the idea that certain departments don’t relate to other functions in the company and instead foster a sense of shared enterprise. Effective collaboration can breed innovation, so get different departments working together on shared goals – for example marketing and finance, sales and IT.
7. Strategic alignment
This is a simple but important point – are all the parts of your company strategically aligned? And is focusing on and improving customer service, and exceeding customer expectations, a broader company mission? Communicate to your employees the importance of embracing a valuable customer-based culture.