This is part 3 of a customer service blog series based on conversations with members of Insightly’s client services and customer success teams.

Many companies talk about being “customer-centric.” In reality, too few invest the time and effort to provide truly customer-centric experiences.

How can you push your organization to become more customer-centric?

Recently, I sat down with Luke Via, Senior Director of Customer Success at Insightly, to discuss best practices for enabling customer-centric experiences. Here are four important tips to consider.

 

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1. Align around providing the best possible customer experience

Modern buying cycles are complex. Gone are the days of exclusively relying on sales to handle every customer interaction. Marketing, customer success and support, product development, finance, and a myriad of other stakeholders play important roles in the customer experience.

Before you can align your teams and individual contributors around an ideal experience, you need alignment at the top. “Being customer-centric requires alignment among all of a company’s executives and agreement to focus on the best possible customer experience,” says Luke Via, Senior Director of Customer Success at Insightly. “From marketing to selling to supporting customers with great products and services, leaders must consciously seek new ways to improve.”

Open and honest communication is the best way to cultivate alignment among leaders. Start an internal conversation and begin collecting opportunities for improvement. Explore how your company can maximize value across every stage of the customer experience—and with the highest level of satisfaction. Which parts of the customer experience are contributing to (or eroding) satisfaction?

Tip: Frontline staff, who regularly interact with your customers, can be an excellent source of ideas. Find ways to include them in the conversation, too!

 

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2. Define your ideal customer journey

Once leadership agrees that the customer experience is a top priority, it’s time to develop a shared vision of the ideal pre-sale and post-sale experience. “Leaders need to gain a clear understanding of a customer’s desired outcome,” says Luke. “It’s about knowing where customers are today, why they arrived at your solution, and the resources they’re willing to spend to achieve their goals.”

Journey mapping is one approach for obtaining a shared vision of the customer experience. As pointed out in 3 ways to use CRM data in building customer journeys, mapping your current journeys involves three basic steps:

Define your ICPs and personas. Gain a clear understanding of the types of companies and people you serve. What do they have in common? Organizing customers by ICP (ideal customer profile) and persona will make it easier to think in terms of an “ideal” experience.

Gather data to identify similar journeys. How do your ICPs and personas advance through the customer journey? Do they go through common steps when purchasing or renewing? Use data from your CRM or other business systems to avoid flawed assumptions.

Build your customer journey map. Your journey map could be a simple spreadsheet or a complex diagram. Either way, the end product should be backed by real-world data and easily accessible by leadership. Which parts of the journey are less than ideal for the customer? What steps can be taken to provide a more customer-centric experience?

Frequently reevaluating your journeys through the eyes of the customer will help you close the gap between the status quo and the ideal. And, according to Luke, it’s also an activity that can have a measurable impact on your bottom line. “If you provide the best experience possible, customers are more likely to stay,” says Luke. “So, if you’re looking to grow, you should be customer-focused through the entire journey.”

 

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3. Get the right data, metrics, and tools

How do you know if you’re providing a customer-centric experience? Collecting the right data and monitoring the right metrics is key for establishing a baseline and tracking progress. Which data and metrics are most important? The answer may vary from company to company, but here are a few to consider:

CSAT is the measurement of a customer’s satisfaction with a particular interaction. A sustained uptick in aggregated CSAT can mean that customers are generally happier with their experiences.

Contraction, or churn, measures the number of customers who take their business elsewhere during a period of time. Negative experiences lead to elevated levels of contraction, while positive experiences reduce churn. So, it stands to reason that lower contraction indicates an improvement in the customer experience.

Average time spent per support ticket measures how long agents take to resolve customer issues. Customers prefer shorter wait times to longer ones, so reducing time per ticket is bound to make customers happier in the long run.

Aligning all of your customer interactions—across sales, support, and marketing—into one system like Insightly can make it easier to track and report on key metrics. Eliminating data silos reduces complexity and makes it easier to develop a comprehensive view of the customer experience.

 

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4. Establish an effective feedback loop

Internal data and metrics are no substitute for direct customer feedback. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to implement a scalable feedback loop. “Effective companies do more than ask for feedback,” says Luke. “They use feedback to initiate meaningful internal discussions and ultimately communicate it back to their customer base.”

For example, Insightly’s founder and CEO, Anthony Smith, regularly hosts product release webinars to share the company’s latest innovations—innovations that stem largely from customer feedback. These webinars not only serve as an effective vehicle for feature announcements, but they also help customers feel more connected—and committed—to the Insightly experience. “Celebrating victories is huge because people want to feel like they’re being heard,” says Luke. “Forming an emotional connection further solidifies the customer’s connection to the company.”

Time for a customer-centric approach?

Customers have never had more choices at their disposal. In an increasingly commoditized marketplace, the companies that deliver the best experiences will win.

Stay tuned for additional customer service tips. Next time, we’ll explore the relationship between customer success and the customer experience.