Are your customers really at the heart of your business?

Yesterday I travelled to the Marketing Week Live! conference at London Olympia to find out at first hand from other professionals what’s new and exciting in the world of marketing. I was intrigued by a case study that was a great example of collaboration between a retail and a research business. The challenge the retailer faced was how to put customer experience at the heart of their business. That’s sounds simple, but it was complicated by the mix of retail outlets, brands and locations – about 720 of them.
Their solution was to use real time feedback from customers, fed to them by phone calls and e-mail from PC’s mobile phones and tablets, process it centrally and then get the relevent feedback to managers in the stores. They tracked the data and analysed it to look for trends and patterns that could be implemented in the longer term to improve customer staisfaction.
As a result of the data analysis, individual stores and staff were given tailored training where appropriate and those who received great customer feedback were rewarded to reinforce the behaviour.
Management processes were changed at the same time, giving staff on the ground more authority to respond faster to customers, rather than have to refer the issue higher up the management chain of command.This gives the customer a more immediate result from their feedback.
Of course, this larger business had more resources to invest in the new process – larger marketing budgets, new IT systems, more call centre staff to handle the real time enquiries and the management resource to collate and analyse data. But the driving force behind the inititiative was a new CEO determined that, rather than just pay lip service to their customers (have you ever met a business that said they provided poor customer service?), they really would place them at the heart of the business. Smaller businesses have a huge advantage here that means they don’t necessarily need to invest on this grand scale – they frequently are already in more immediate contact with their own customers. In our experience, those that do place customers first, even if they run a high street retail store in tough economic times, grow their business through increased customer loyalty.
Happy retailing!